The North Carolina Senate and the House have now approved legislation that allows four municipalities in Mecklenburg County to create their own charter schools. Since the legislation is a local bill, it does not require the Governor’s signature to become law.
HB 514, sponsored by Rep. Bill Brawley, is offered as a solution for parents from Mint Hill, Matthews, Cornelius and Huntersville, North Carolina who said they are fed up with being shortchanged by Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Schools.
I support charters. And, I support expanding the number of charters. However, I don’t support legislation (HB 514) that allows towns in Mecklenburg County to create their own charter schools and also allows cities across North Carolina to ask for tax money for public schools.
Such a prospect raises valid questions concerning the operation of a charter school and its board, that can‘t be ignored. Will a school’s conflict of interest policy be sufficient? How will the required nepotism policy be enforced?
The bill also allows cities across the state to provide tax money for public schools. Currently 15 municipalities operate school districts across the state. And most of those date from the time when schools were run primarily by cities. It’s not exactly sure how the changes in funding would impact schools. But if a municipality wanted to provide money for a charter, all the funding would need to be upfront. How such decisions would impact local public schools is not known. School districts currently receive most all their funding from state, local and the federal government. It may only work to further confuse North Carolinians about how schools are funded.
HB 514 seeks to provide a solution to a problem faced by suburban communities in the Charlotte Mecklenburg area. Despite legislators seemingly good intentions, however, it doesn’t. Allowing municipalities to create their own charter schools only perpetuates many of the shortcomings, of the current system, and institutionalizes the animosity between charter and traditional public schools.
The new legislation raises far more questions than answers. You must ask: why haven’t CMS and surrounding suburban communities been able to come to a solution? Why can’t local communities just start additional charters? Good answers are lacking to both those questions.
Because CMS and suburban communities can’t get along is no reason to upend the current process of how charters are funded and operate. The price of uncertainty is simply too high.