Under the Dome

Low-performing charters have more ways to stay open

The House overwhelmingly approved a bill that will change charter school oversight, allowing less frequent reviews of charter schools and making easier for struggling schools to keep their charters.

Under the bill, charters would no longer be reviewed at least once every five years. Instead, a school would be reviewed once before its charter expires, unless there are indications it’s in trouble.

Rep. Paul Stam, an Apex Republican, said the change will allow the state to focus on the schools that need the most help.

The State Board of Education would no longer be able to revoke a charter simply because a school is low performing. Charters with low test scores that meet or exceed growth, or those that are making progress on improvement plans would be able to stay open.

The House approved the bill 110-4. It now goes to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature.

A national charter advocacy group, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, wrote House leaders opposing the bill, saying it would leave the state board with little authority to close low-performing schools.

Lee Teague, executive director of the N.C. Public Charter School Association defended the bill in a letter to legislators. With the changes, charter schools and traditional public schools will be judged by the same standard, he wrote.

Lynn Bonner: 919-829-4821, @Lynn_Bonner