Contact Eddie Goodall
Charter schools say no to Charter Board
Charlotte, NC June 3, 2013
The NC Public Charter Schools Association announced today that its nine-member Board of Advisors has voted to oppose the creation of an independent public charter schools board. Senate Bill 337, “NC Public Charter School Board”, passed the Senate on May 7 and would establish a new charter governance body, supplanting the State Board of Education.
The Association said it had initially supported the bill as a vehicle to get needed changes in the law, including requiring school districts to account for and pay local funds owed to charter schools in a timely manner, defining more equitable allocation of local funds, and providing that properties leased to charter schools be exempted from property tax liability.
But the Association had acknowledged and stated in its own legislative agenda, which was derived from a statewide series of charter forums in October of 2012, that a new charter body was not necessary given the anticipated fundamental shift in North Carolina’s political leadership, especially with a new constituency of the State Board of Education.
Eddie Goodall, Executive Director of the Association said:
“We do not believe the push for a charter board was generated from the broader charter community but rather from a very small group of individuals who want to distance charters from the traditional public school system. Several years ago that looked like the only way charters might be helped. However, the State Board gave the Charter Advisory Council unexpected latitude in its first two years, resulting in district school systems trying to work more collaboratively with charters in many cases. The Department of Public Instruction, under the leadership of Dr. June Atkinson, has also recognized the role of charters in public education reform and has enhanced its support in our state.
Our members feel that the charter movement can experience dynamic progress working within an environment that is now more complementary, versus creating a higher wall between our two types of public schools. We still want less regulation and more resources, but that and oversight by the State Board of Education are not mutually exclusive in our view.
We also feel an unintended consequence of governance disunion may be a negative impact on traditional public schools and their boards which we hope, under the current structure, will witness and integrate the reforms and behavioral dynamics that cause charters to attract parents. That means better educational opportunities not just for charter students, but for all students.
Our recommendation is to retain the Charter Advisory Council, strengthen its weak conflict of interest policy, provide it with more resources, including charter application review help, and stress the importance of stronger, especially more visionary, leadership within the body.
We still thank Senator Jerry Tillman for his efforts and have made attempts to let him know that his charter board provisions are not broadly supported by the heads of charter schools.”
Carl Forsyth, the Managing Director of Voyager Academy in Durham, Association member, and early critic of the charter board concept added, “I applaud the Advisory Board of the NC Public Charter Schools Association for opposing the proposal to set up a Charter School State Board of Education. Our Association has chosen the route of collaboration and cooperation between charters and district schools instead of contention. This decision by our organization will enhance charter school growth in North Carolina not only through the addition of more quality independent and autonomous charters, but also through the conversion of many district schools to charter schools.”
The Association Board also said it rejects the bill’s provisions to infuse a new non-refundable application fee on charter founders and fees on charter renewals. Goodall said, “We should consider rewarding new charter entrepreneurs and high-performing charters, not taxing them.”