NC House and Senate approve charter school expansion bill

From Staff ReportsJuly 16, 2013 

A bill allowing charter schools to expand without the State Board of Education’s permission is on its way to Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk.

The bill the House and Senate approved Tuesday could also end the ongoing legal fight involving Pamlico County Schools and Arapaho Charter School

Under H.B. 250, charter schools can expand one grade per year without asking the state board’s permission. The bill may end Arapaho Charter School’s battle with Pamlico County by allowing the charter to add grades for high school students. Pamlico County school administrators oppose the expansion because it would draw more students away from Pamlico County High School. The state board denied Arapaho’s request to add grades when Pamlico said the expansion would hurt county schools. Arapaho appealed.

The bill passed the House in a 68-47 vote after lawmakers cut off debate. Opponents of the bill say the legislature is overstepping its bounds, infringing on the judicial process by cutting off litigation before mediation could resolve it.

“Charter schools … are an important part of the public school process,” said Rep. Rick Glazier, a Fayetteville Democrat. “But there are limitations … It has never been the thought of charter schools to eviscerate the public schools in their areas, and that is what we’re doing.”

Supporters argued that charter schools should be allowed to thrive if they’re operating efficiently and giving students a good education. The board would be able to deny charter schools expansion if they aren’t performing well.

“I don’t see the kids leaving (the public schools) in droves,” said Rep. Michael Speciale, a New Bern Republican who represents Pamlico County. “It’s not school system versus school system. All this bill does is allow them to expand one grade per year so they can keep the students that they have. It’s a small school.”

The Senate passed the bill 41-8 with no debate.

Staff writer Annalise Frank

On second thought, no ATVs on roads

All-terrain vehicle owners will no longer have the chance to drive them legally on public roads.

Lawmakers erased changes to a bill that would have allowed counties to permit ATVs on streets and highways in the House Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations. The new version of the bill passed without opposition Tuesday.

Senate Bill 501 originally amended the definition of ATV to reflect changes in ATV models available in the state. But an added provision let counties allow people 16 years of age and older drive them on roads with speed limits of 35 mph or less. Rep. Timothy Moore, the committee chair and a Kings Mountain Republican, cut the ATV-on-roads provision from the bill, despite his personal view that it was limited enough to be safe.

He said it “opened Pandora’s Box,” referring to the backlash it had received from safety advocates, businesses selling ATVs and others.

In its place he injected an unrelated provision creating a Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on General Government. It had been stuck in the Senate in a separate bill since March. The 12-member committee would vet departments and agencies like the Department of State Treasurer and the Office of State Budget and Management and recommend improvements to the General Assembly.

Staff writer Annalise Frank

Rules for vacant county seat changed

The House approved a bill that changes the way vacancies on the Wake County Board of Commissioners are filled. The House approved the bill unanimously and without debate. It now goes back to the Senate for a vote.

Under the bill, the executive committee representing the vacating member’s political party will be consulted to fill the vacancy. If board members reject that nominee, the party’s executive committee will be asked for a second name. If that second person isn’t voted onto the board, a special primary for only Democrats or Republicans, depending on the vacating member’s party, will vote on a successor.

Staff writer Lynn Bonner

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service