The N.C. House narrowly approved a budget provision that would provide $1 million to a private group to help start charter schools in rural counties.
Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, a charter school advocacy group, would get $1 million to launch a pilot program aimed at fostering more charters in rural areas. The group would give out $200,000 grants to new schools to help with start-up costs.
Democrats sought to kill that budget item and instead direct $1 million to fund more teacher assistants. Their amendment garnered support from a few Republicans but fell short in a 53-60 vote Thursday evening.
“This is the first time that I believe in the history of the legislature that we’ve done what this is asking,” said Rep. Rick Glazier, a Fayetteville Democrat. “We’re giving $1 million of taxpayers’ money to an entity to then choose the charter schools to fund. … It is not our job to take away public funds and give them to a private entity to make public decisions.”
But Republicans defended the plan, pointing out that PEFNC would not be allowed to use any of the money for its overhead costs, and it would have to match the $1 million grant.
“One of the complaints we always get is that all of the charters to Wake, Durham and Charlotte,” said Rep. Paul Stam, an Apex Republican. “We’re trying to encourage charters in places where they don’t have access to them.”