News

Hours after UNC-Chapel Hill released details of an independent investigation into academic fraud at the school, Governor Pat McCrory issued the following statement:

unc-chapel-hill-logo“The finding of academic fraud is a disturbing reminder of what can happen, even at our flagship university, when we misplace priorities and have a lack of oversight. It is imperative that we ensure there is accountability at all of our universities to make sure we are upholding a culture in which students, parents and taxpayers are getting a return on our most important investment: education.

I’m again reminded of the words of former UNC system president Dr. William Friday, ‘People do not want their lifetime measured by how much their football team won or lost. There is something valuable they want measured on their intellectual tombstone when the time comes, and it will come.’ Dr. Friday words still ring true today.

I look forward to working with Chancellor Folt and all the chancellors to maintain North Carolina’s devotion to excellence in higher education.”

To read the full 136-page report on the scandal by Kenneth Wainstein, a former top U.S. Justice Department official, click here.

News

vote-stickerAs we reported early this morning, the Court of Appeals refused to review Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald Stephen’s order requiring the opening of a voting site on the Appalachian State University campus.

With that refusal, the State Board of Election scheduled a 4 p.m. meeting to vote on a new Watauga County plan that would include a site at ASU. The Board also, though, had filed a request with the Supreme Court for a stay of the Stephens order and a review by the high court.

By 4 p.m., the Board had not heard from the Supreme Court, so went ahead with the meeting and unanimously approved a new plan that included a site at ASU, per the Board’s public information officer Josh Lawson.

Just after adopting that new plan, the Supreme Court granted the stay and agreed to hear the case.

According to Lawson, despite the Court’s ruling, the Board would have to schedule yet another meeting to adopt another plan without the ASU site in response to the high court’s decision.

Lawson said that as of now he knows of no new plans to hold another Board meeting to do that — a decision that would come from Board Chair Josh Howard.

Meaning this: Unless something changes overnight, early voting will take place at a site in the Student Union of the Appalachian State campus (likely the “Price Lake” room).

Follow this post for further developments overnight.

Commentary

Medicaid expansionConservative political support for one of the central components of Obamacare continues to grow. The latest conversion: North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis.

This is from a story by reporter Craig Jarvis in Raleigh’s News & Observer about Tillis’  televised appearance on Time Warner Cable’s “Capital Tonight” show last evening:

Medicaid: Asked if he thought it would be likely that the state legislature would expand Medicaid coverage after refusing to do so previously, Tillis said it might make sense once the state has better control of the financing of the program, which is notorious for its cost overruns.

He said he didn’t have an ideological objection to expanding the coverage. But he said when the state auditor told the previous governor that money was being wasted on it, the appropriate response would not have been to make it bigger and more costly.

“I would encourage the state legislature and governor to consider it if they’re completely convinced they now have the situation under control,” Tillis said.

In other words, the Speaker is echoing the McCrory administration’s imperfect but mostly encouraging line on the issue. Let’s fervently hope that Tillis’ successor as House Speaker and Senate President Pro Tem Berger adopt this same common-sense stance so that the matter can be disposed of as early in 2015 as possible.

News

The standoff between Baker Mitchell Jr, whose company runs four Wilmington-area charter schools, and North Carolina’s education agency is continuing.

Baker Mitchell of Roger Bacon Adademies, with students.

Baker Mitchell of Roger Bacon Adademies, with students.

The state has demanded – but has yet to receive– details from Charter Day Schools, Inc. about the salaries paid out to Roger Bacon Academy employees who work in the four public charter schools run by the company.

Owned by Mitchell, Roger Bacon Academy has exclusive contracts to manage and run four schools in Southeastern North Carolina — Charter Day School in Leland, Columbus Charter School in Whiteville, South Brunswick School in Bolivia and Douglass Academy in Wilmington.

The board chair of the non-profit in charge of the schools recently claimed that the private company owned by Mitchell won’t give the salary information to the schools’ board of directors.

John Ferrante, a Wilmington lawyer and chair of the non-profit Charter Day Schools, Inc., told Phillip Price of the N.C. Department of Public Instruction last week that the non-profit board of directors can’t get detailed salary information of headmasters and assistant headmasters from Roger Bacon Academy.

Price, DPI’s chief financial officer, summarized his Oct. 17 conversation with Ferrante in an email to State Board of Education Chair Bill Cobey and several DPI employees. N.C. Policy Watch received a copy of that email through a standing public records request it has with DPI.

“He [Ferrante] indicated that he had requested that information and they had responded that it was confidential and not available,” wrote Price in the Oct. 17 email. “Mr. Ferrante was concerned that his schools would be punished for something that was out of their control (and parents were expressing concern).”

The Charter Day Schools, Inc. board of directors governs the four charter schools –– and has the ability to hire and fire Roger Bacon Academy, Mitchell’s private company. Mitchell also owns another company that leases land and buildings to the charter school group.

Read More

News

bcbsNorth Carolinians who will be re-enrolling or signing up for individual health insurance plans next month are getting a preview of 2015 rates today.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina announced Wednesday that consumers could expect to see a 13 percent increase on individual Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans. On the plus side, many of those customers will receive subsidies.

Rates for grandfathered and transitional plans will also see a double-digit increase next year.

Here’s more from the BCBSNC website:

“There are three distinct categories in the individual health insurance market, and each is affected differently,” said Patrick Getzen, BCBSNC vice president and chief actuary. “Rates are based on the population of each group and the medical services they use. There needs to be a mix of customers within each category to balance risk and expected costs.”

Some customers may see rate changes that vary significantly from the average increase for their group. Many ACA customers will benefit from federal subsidies that are available to qualified consumers based on household income. Several factors impact rates, including the population of the group and the medical services they are using.

BCBSNC

Blue Cross will offer 35 plans in all, with consumers able to compare plans starting November 15th. The annual enrollment period runs from mid-November through Feb. 15, 2015.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield is North Carolina’s largest health insurer.