News

A group of Wilmington-area charter schools has given up on its fight to keep secret the salary information of its employees.

On Thursday, Charter Day turned over the data requested more than a month ago by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, allowing the management company to be removed from “financial probationary status” which had threatened state funding.

Despite marking the documents trade secrets, the Wilmington Star-News reports that salary information will be made public early next week:

‘The state Thursday said it intends to make the salary information provided by Charter Day public even though the school group had marked it as “trade secrets.”tradesecret

In an email, DPI spokeswoman Lynda Fuller said the state intends to release the information at 5 p.m. Monday.

There’s a standard provision with state contracts that if during the bidding process a vendor marks something as a trade secret that officials don’t find as a trade secret there is a 48-hour delay before that information can be released.

That’s the practice officials are employing here, according to DPI officials.’

Charter Day contracts with Roger Bacon Academies to operate its school in Leland as well as Columbus Charter School in Whiteville, Douglass Academy in Wilmington and South Brunswick Charter School in Bolivia.
News

There are currently 148 public charter schools open in North Carolina with 11 additional schools hoping to open their doors in August of 2015.

As the Charter School Advisory Board prepares to discuss charter school renewals for 2015 at its Thursday meeting, Education Week examines what happens when things don’t go well and a state is confronted with a charter school closure. Here’s an excerpt from Arianna Prothero’s article:

charterschoolsAlthough closure rates for charter schools nationally have fluctuated over the past five years, according to survey data collected by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, the number has stabilized, and NACSA doesn’t expect it to go down. If anything, the organization said in a 2013 report, closures may rise because of growing pressure on authorizers to close underperforming schools, and the effect of state laws that do so automatically.

For the most part, charters are closed when authorizers choose to not renew their contracts at the end of the term limit, most often because of poor academic performance and financial reasons. More than 15.7 percent of charter school contracts were up for renewal during the 2012-13 school year, and of those, 11.6 percent were denied. For charters outside their renewal period, the closure rate was 1.9 percent in that school year, according to NACSA.

Whatever the justification for closure, the decision to shut a school down is perhaps the easy part; execution is a different story. Read More

Commentary

As the Mining and Energy Commission prepares to meet this Friday to finalize suggested changes to proposed fracking rules, the Fayetteville Obsever writes the state must put forth the most stringent rules from the start. Here’s more from Wednesday’s editorial:

Frack-free-400Fracking in North Carolina would be speculative, constituting a risky roll of the dice. That’s not the case elsewhere, such as in Pennsylvania, where the fuel has been found and is being tapped.

With such risk and no advantage to turning their attention here, well-managed and experienced companies aren’t as likely to take a gamble on fracking in North Carolina right now. Maybe when and if those other locations run dry, but not now.

That’s precisely why getting this state’s regulations right is essential. It’s not those who know what they’re doing that we have to worry about. It’s the wildcatters with barely the equipment, financing or know-how to make a go, desperate for the chance of a big find and willing to cut corners to make it happen.

The North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission is completing work on recommended regulations, adjusting the framework legislators have put in place before opening the door to fracking. The commission’s work will go back to lawmakers, who have the final say.

Having paid attention to feedback at public comment sessions this summer, commissioners are improving rules in ways that will be burdensome for fly-by-night speculators.

That includes allowing unannounced inspections, expanding setbacks to protect local water supplies from runoff and creating a permanent archive of fracking records.

But commissioners haven’t found the right answer to all issues. They appear poised to allow open pits to store fracking waste on the assumption that it’s too late in the process to change that. They say more stringent rules could be added a year from now.

They should heed fellow Commissioner Jane Lewis-Raymond of Charlotte-based Piedmont Natural Gas. She’s advised banning open-pit storage from the start, promising that industry leaders won’t object.

Tough rules now avoid expensive cleanup later. And they should also encourage the riff-raff to gamble on tearing up the earth under some other state’s feet.

Read the full editorial here.

Friday’s Mining and Energy Commission Meeting gets underway at  9:00 AM in the Ground Floor Hearing Room of the Archdale Building located at 512 N. Salisbury St., Raleigh, NC.

Commentary

The editorial board of Raleigh’s News & Observer gets it right on the mark with Tuesday’s editorial recognizing the importance of this Veterans Day:

american flagHere is a day that all Americans can and must embrace. Today, many thousands of Americans in uniform face the same threats, the same imminent dangers, that those in the World Wars faced. They are far from home, where they must protect their own safety, those of their fellow troops and those of the civilians they’re often charged with keeping from harm.

And at home, their families struggle financially and emotionally with the stress of having a mother or father in harm’s way far from home. Military service is demanding in so many ways, and it is good to see the VA intending to put more resources into mental health care to help service members and their families cope.

Those in uniform protect our very freedoms, all those laid out by the Founding Fathers and their successors in the Bill of Rights and the Amendments to the Constitution.

We owe respect to them and to our country. God blesses America in many ways, but one way, one profound way, is with the voluntary and courageous service of those veterans to whom we now pay tribute.

Read the N&O’s full editorial here.

News

healthcare.govOpen enrollment doesn’t begin until Saturday, but starting today consumers can check out the rates and the various plans available for 2015 on the federal health insurance exchange.

Consumers who purchased a health insurance plan through the exchange last year can either renew their current plan or enroll in a new plan for 2015.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, UnitedHealthcare, and CoventryOne are all offering plans on the exchange this year.

North Carolinians will have four categories to choose from: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. For more on those “metal” levels, click here.

To examine the available plans and estimated premiums, visit Healththcare.gov and start by entering your zip code. Consumers can look at the available plans for 2015 and compare them with their current coverage.

November 15th will be the first day to log in and make changes to your coverage. You have until December 15th to choose a plan and complete the enrollment steps to be covered on January 1st of the new year.