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Final vote tonight on bill setting charter school policy

The Senate bill that would have created an independent charter school board separate from the NC State Board of Education goes for a third reading tonight in the House. In its current form, the legislation no longer creates a separate charter school board and requires that at least 50 percent of charter school teachers be licensed, an improvement from the proposed provision that would not require charters to hire any licensed teachers at all.

SB 337 changed dramatically from when it was first filed after tremendous pressure from state education leaders.

State Board of Ed Chairman Bill Cobey told NC Policy Watch he thought the bill was unconstitutional. Moving the charter school advisory council away from the State Board of Education’s direction could be in violation of its constitutional mandate to supervise and administer all publicly funded schools, including public charter schools.

NC State Superintendent June Atkinson told NC Policy Watch, “it’s not in the best interest of the state to have two separate boards.”

Changes to the bill also included preserving the requirement that charter schools reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the district which in they are located; however, that language was weakened in another charter school bill passed last week.

While no other changes to SB 337 are expected at this time, it’s possible the bill could be amended with some last-minute surprises. Stay tuned.

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