North Carolina lawmakers would look at how to split school districts into smaller ones under a bill passed Wednesday by the state House.
House Bill 704 would create a joint legislative study committee to look into whether legislation should be introduced to allow for the breakup of previously merged school systems. The committee would also consider how to divide school districts and whether a local referendum or petition would be needed before a district could be split.
“This is a bill to create a study on whether or not some large school systems should be broken up,” said Rep. Bill Brawley, a Republican from Mecklenburg County and one of the bill’s primary sponsors. “It is merely a study and is not aimed for any particular school system.”
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The bill was approved 104-16 and now goes to the Senate. If approved, the committee made up of state lawmakers would make a final report by May 1, 2018.
Many transplants to North Carolina are used to individual towns running their own small school systems. In contrast, most school systems in North Carolina are county-based.
Over the years, many school systems in the state merged to try to save money and to integrate schools. The state went from 167 school districts in the 1960s to 115 now.
The bill’s two other primary sponsors are Rep. John Bradford of Mecklenburg County and Rep. Chris Malone of Wake County. All three legislators represent counties where there’s been support from some suburban residents to break up their large school districts.
Wake County is the nation’s 15th largest school system with 159,549 students. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system is the nation’s 18th largest system with 147,000 students.