Four of the Five County Commissioners in Durham County are asking the State Board of Education to stop approving charter schools until the General Assembly requires them to provide meals and transportation to underprivileged students.
Aside from the motivations behind the Commissioner’s actions, I doubt the commissioners are aware that the statutes only authorize — not mandate — the provision of transportation (G.S. 115C-239 and 115C-252) services by local schools. In addition, the statutes only require local schools to provide services to the extent practicable (115C-263).
Charter schools can choose to provide food and transportation services to students, and parents know when they apply for admission whether it is provided. Transportation and food services can require significant additional expenditures and this will come at the expense of educational services. As more charter schools compete for students you will see schools use these two services as additional benefits to draw students.
Requiring charter schools to provide food and transportation services would require significant additional expenditures with no additional funds to purchase buses or build cafeterias. The requirement would erode institutional autonomy and flexibility, once a defining quality of charter schools.
If traditional public schools are not required to provide transportation and food services, requiring charter schools to do so is unfair and unreasonable. To the extent practicable is reasonable phrasing here. Why shouldn’t charter schools be governed by the same principle?