Legislative Update – NC State Senate Votes to Remove Cap on Public Charter Schools

The Senate floor in Raleigh, NC on February 23, 2011.


Yesterday was a good day for charter schools in North Carolina!

Live! The vote totals on Senate Bill 8.

The North Carolina State Senate took up Senate Bill 8 and voted convincingly to remove the cap on public charter schools.  The bill also creates a statewide charters commission to authorize schools and hold them accountable. The State Board of Education could veto the commission’s decisions with a three-quarters majority. The bill would preserve a current requirement that a charter school’s student body represent the racial and ethnic makeup of its community, but does not contain Democratic amendments requiring charters to provide transportation and meals to low-income children.  One more vote is required before the bill moves to the House.


The Learning Center! Charter School’s sole intent is to provide our  school community with information about what is happening politically in  our state regarding charter school law.  We solely seek to inform.

Legislative Update

[This comes directly from NC Alliance for Public Charter Schools President Eddie Goodall. ]

Charter Leaders,

The School Boards Association is contacting every legislator regarding the Sugar Creek funding. Please urge your legislators to support Senate Bill 8 “as is” without losing our “Current Expense Funds”. You may want to furnish your legislators with the summary Jim has prepared for you below.

The Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS) for Senate Bill 8 passed out of Senate Finance today and is on the Senate floor tomorrow for passage at 3 pm. You may listen at www.ncleg.net (Chamber audio for senate!)

Jim Stegall, our lobbyist, is doing a great job for YOU in the legislature! His number is 704-221-1958 if you want to thank him.

Re: Charter School Funding and Senate Bill 8

Dear Senator Davis,

The original charter school law mandated a division of all public education operating funds between district and charter schools on an ADM basis.  The idea was for each type of public school to receive the same per-pupil amount, with the money following the student to either the district school or the charter school as the parents chose.  Charter schools received no money for facilities, but in exchange were free to spend the operating funds they received in ways different from the district schools, and they did—putting extra money into some programs and services, less or none into others.

Lawmakers decided that the simplest, fairest way to achieve an equal division of operating funds was to base it upon the “local current expense fund,” the account in which LEAs were required to maintain all of their operating funds.  This is what the original charter school law mandated.  However, many LEAs took it upon themselves to withhold certain monies in that fund from the calculation of the per-pupil amount to be shared with charter schools.  In effect, they decided (without any legal authorization) to reserve some of the money for themselves before dividing the remainder with charter schools.

When some charter schools learned that they were being shortchanged, they brought suit.  Since there was no legal basis for LEAs to withhold these funds the suits were successful every time.

In the closing days of the 2010 session of the General Assembly, the North Carolina School Boards Association lobbied quietly to have certain changes made to the Uniform Budget Format (G.S. 115C-426) which in effect “legalized” what the LEAs had been doing, and giving LEAs up to three years to pay any court-ordered settlements with charter schools.  The changes to the law were not presented as a separate bill, but rather inserted into the reconciliation version of the 2010-2011 budget act.

As the laws now stands LEAs may exclude from the calculation of per-pupil funding a host of public monies intended for public education received from various sources, leaving charter schools with a much-reduced per-pupil figure relative to their district school counterparts.  Senator Steven’s Senate Bill 8 seeks to remedy that situation by removing the language that was inserted into last year’s budget bill and installing language that makes clear that LEAs must divide the entire ‘current expense fund’ equally with charter schools by ADM, with certain exceptions for funds that are restricted as to use by the donor or grantor.  In effect, Senate Bill 8 restores the original intent of the charter school law, which was that all monies appropriated for public education be divided equally on an ADM basis and follow the child to the school of the parents’ choice.


Concerned citizen


The Learning Center! Charter School’s sole intent is to provide our  school community with information about what is happening politically in  our state regarding charter school law.  We solely seek to inform.

Helping the Charter School Cause

A new charter school bill is moving fast in the North Carolina Senate and charter schools need our help.

Senate Bill 8, the “Charter Cap Plus” bill, passed the full Senate Education Committee today and will be on the floor for a full senate vote tomorrow in all likelihood. Amendments by Sen. Malcolm Graham to address access to charter schools by adding mandates for weighted lotteries, transportation, and food service, were defeated primarily on a party-line vote. Republicans argued that the law already provided for efforts to attract and educate at risk children and the charter schools had demonstrated an ability to do that as testimony by Cheryl Turner of Sugar Creek Charter and Michael Pratt of Rocky Mount Prep provided. Matthew Norcross, a high school student and product of Phoenix Academy, told of his successful journey through that High Point charter school.

The bill sets up a Commission to authorize, monitor, and report on the state’s charters as well as other provisions you have been asking for. One of these is the reversal of the onerous language inserted into the 2010 Budget Bill which allowed the LEAs to continue to remove certain funds from the “Current Expense Fund”, which the law originally intended to be shared with the charter schools.

There will be fierce opposition by the school administrators and school boards in the coming days (hours).  Senate Bill 8 will do great things for existing and hopeful future charter schools in our state!

Senator Jim Davis at (919)733-5875 or by email at Jim.Davis@ncleg.net.

Representative Roger West at (919)733-5859 or by email at Roger.West@ncleg.net.

The Learning Center! Charter School’s sole intent is to provide our  school community with information about what is happening politically in  our state regarding charter school law.  We solely seek to inform.

Fourth Grade Visits Cherokee County Museum

The fourth grade class has been studying the regions of North Carolina in social studies and recently visited the Cherokee County Museum to learn more about this mountain region in which we live.

They got to see artifacts from Cherokee County as well as tools and clothes from early settlers in the area.  They also got to see and learn a great deal about The Trail of Tears.

Did you know this valuable resource is within walking distance of TLC?  Maybe you should check it out too.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Donations

Remember those pesky Math-A-Thon workbooks your kids brought home earlier this year?  Did you force them to complete them during the week we had off due to snow?  I did.  But after learning that our school donated $1,737.00 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through the sponsoring and work done in these workbooks, I don’t feel so bad.

And get this!  Over the years, our school has donated a total of $11,023.00 to St. Jude.  Not too shabby for a small school in rural western North Carolina!

More on Lego Mindstorms

The Learning Center! students are often asked to “think outside the box” when taking many of their classes and “Lego Mindstorms” is no exception. In its third year as an elective course at the school, Lego Mindstorms encourages creativity such as “thinking like an engineer” while working with Legos. The class objective is to create a robotic vehicle and will introduce the programming of that robot’s movements on the computer using special software and hardware. The final project will be to create a robotic vehicle that moves around the classroom based on the program the student have developed.

Ms. Christy, teacher for this elective says “Teamwork is a must!”  The students worked in groups to build a robotic vehicle and programmed it on the computer using Lego Mindstorms software.  “I enjoyed watching the trial and error period,” said Ms. Christy. “Especially when they tested to see how far the vehicle would run and where they needed to “tweak” their measurements.”  Ms. Christy was very excited when one of the groups had programmed their vehicle to make turns and stay on the sidewalk all the way to another classroom building.  The students met from 1:45 – 2:55 every Friday to work on their projects.