NC laws may hurt charter school funding

January 19, 2010 9:05:22 PM PST
Tuesday education leaders held a news conference to highlight their concerns about the future of charter schools in North Carolina.

The timing of the event was no coincidence because today the state submitted an application for more than $400M in federal funding. However, there are concerns the current laws governing charter schools in NC may hurt the chances of the state receiving all of the money.

"The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools did a national ranking of states," said Darrell Allison, president of Parents for Educational Freedom NC. "When it comes to states, we came in at 32nd."

That low ranking is out of 40 and has some like Allison wondering if the state is in a race to the bottom for stimulus money.

Allison believes current state laws for charter schools will hurt the chances of receiving all of the $400M.

"We're very concerned with that report because with the race to the top funds we stand to receive 470 million dollars," he said.

But he believes the state can improve its chances of receiving money if laws restricting the number of charter schools in the state are changed.

"We've done nothing in 15 years of lifting the cap," Allison explained. "We've had a cap of 100 over 15 years."

Currently there are 96 charter schools in North Carolina with a maximum of 100 statewide with five per district. Advocates say an increase in the cap will allow more schools to open.

"We have children, we have more than 16,000 families who want to enter charter schools so again, we need to look at ways here in the short session in May to lift the cap," Allison said.

The bottom line is if current laws are a factor in receiving stimulus money, a bill may already be making its way through the General Assembly to increase the cap on charter schools.

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