NC Court of Appeals overturns rulings giving more money to charter schools

khui@newsobserver.comFebruary 18, 2014 

— The N.C. Court of Appeals has overturned a pair of lower-court rulings requiring the Wake County and New Hanover County school systems to turn over extra money to two charter schools.

The decisions released Tuesday by a three-judge panel found that trial-court judges incorrectly determined that charter schools are entitled to get a share of the rainy-day funds that school systems have on hand but don’t use.

The panel overturned the $126,640 judgment that Torchlight Academy received against the Wake County school system and the $138,879 judgment that Charter Day School won against the New Hanover County school system.

Charter schools are taxpayer-funded schools that are independent of the school systems in which they’re located. They get their funding passed on to them from the school districts where their students live.

Charter schools have long argued that school systems have not turned over all the dollars they’re entitled to receive.

In these two cases, both charter schools successfully argued to trial-court judges that the per-pupil funding they receive should include a percentage of the money Wake and New Hanover have in their fund balances. Districts can take money from the fund balance for things such as paying for emergencies and balancing the budget.

But in the appellate decision, Judge Douglas McCullough said charter schools are only entitled to a percentage of the fund balance that school systems actually appropriate for use, not a share of the total amount.

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