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Green light for bill to allow charter schools to expand without State Board of Ed approval

The House bill that was modified at the last minute to allow charter schools to expand without having to gain State Board of Education approval passed the Senate floor yesterday, 34-11.

HB 250, which would have allowed charter schools to expand several grades at a time wihtout having to make a request to the State Board of Education, was amended before passage.

Sen. Norman Sanderson from Pamlico County put forth an amendment that would allow charters to expand at only one grade at a time. Sanderson’s amendment seemed to respond to considerable pressure from his constituents at home, who are concerned that the passage of the bill would spell disaster for their lone public high school.

This NC Policy Watch story reported that Arapahoe Charter School’s request to expand to a K-12 school was recently denied by the State Board of Education. The school’s director told NC Policy Watch that he decided to circumvent the appeal process by asking local lawmakers to find a legislative fix to allow the school to expand without State Board of Ed approval.

While Sanderson’s amendment appears to be a concession, it would in fact still allow Arapahoe Charter School to expand, one grade at a time, over the next three years. The public charter school currently offers grades K-9.

As outlined last week, the public high school in Pamlico County could be devastated by Arapahoe’s expansion.

Sen. Jerry Tillman also ran an amendment that effectively weakened the current requirement that public charter schools’ student populations must reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of their local district. The language in his amendment would instead allow charters to simply make efforts toward diversity.

The bill must be reconciled with the House before going to Gov. McCrory’s desk for his signature.

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