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.

Sincerely,

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.

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