The bill that would allow charter schools to expand the grades they offer without prior approval from the State Board of Education will be on the Senate floor this afternoon. The bill has already passed the House.
HB 250, Charter School Enrollment and Charter Revisions , was originally intended to address only charter school enrollment procedures. Last week, NC Policy Watch reported  that the director of Arapahoe Charter School, Tom McCarthy, decided to work with his local lawmakers, Sen. Norman Sanderson (R-Carteret, Craven, Pamlico)  and Rep. Michael Speciale (R-Beaufort, Craven, Pamlico)  to craft legislation that would allow his school to get around a State Board of Education decision to deny Arapahoe’s request to expand to a K-12 school. The resulting bill would allow all public charter schools to expand their offerings, within certain limits, without State Board of Ed approval.
At a Senate Education Committee hearing last week, lawmakers briefly debated the new language – language that the House never even saw – and offered a favorable report for the bill, even as Leanne Winner, director of governmental relations for the North Carolina School Boards Association, explained to the committee the devastating effect it would have on rural school districts.
“We already know that passing this provision would immediately threaten the very existence of Pamlico County’s lone public high school,” Winner told NC Policy Watch.
The law currently requires public charter schools to gain State Board of Education approval in order to expand their offerings. The requirement is in place to mitigate any potential adverse impacts on local school districts resulting from public charter school expansion.
Click here  for more background on the Arapahoe Charter School and the bill that hits the Senate floor today.