Wake Ed

Lawmakers nix requests for Wake County school flexibility

The crossover deadline passed Thursday in the General Assembly with the Wake County school system striking out on its requests for legislation giving it flexibility on setting it own school calendar and operating its own charter schools.

The Wake County school board agreed to press legislators for local bills, meaning the legislation would not affect the entire state, for flexibility on both issues. No bill was filed on giving Wake flexibility to operate charter schools. House Bill 206, which would have exempted Wake from the state’s school calendar law, died in committee.

Crossover is a marker that serves to divide bills that have a chance of becoming law this session from those that have little or no chance. Both the House and Senate had to clear policy proposals sponsored by their own chambers by the end of Thursday for them to be considered during the next two years.

Bills about money don’t have to meet the deadline.

Wake was among 75 North Carolina school districs covered by 45 different local school calendar bills, according to LOCAL (Let Our Calendar Authority Be Local), a coalition pushing for school calendar flexibility. None of those bills passed either chamber.

Only one statewide calendar bill, House Bill 164, passed before the deadline. But despite being called a school calendar flexibility bill, Leanne Winner, the chief lobbyist for the N.C. School Boards Association, said the legislation doesn’t give school districts any more flexibility than what they now have.

FreedomWorks, one of the members of LOCAL, had urged lawmakers to reject House Bill 164 since it wouldn’t provide any additional flexibility.

Winner said that the legislature also didn’t approve any bills giving districts flexibility to approve and run their own charter schools.