Under the Dome

Charter school companies to take over low-performing schools

The governor’s office on Tuesday announced a number of recent bill signings by Gov. Pat McCrory, including a statewide district for five low-performing schools that is meant to improve student proficiency.

House Bill 1080 establishes the new district for schools that will be turned over to charter school management companies and overseen by a superintendent chosen by the state Board of Education. The five schools will be selected from a pool of struggling schools.

The law requires that charter operators who want to work in the district must show they know what they're doing and that they have a plan for “dramatically improving student achievement.” Legislators who supported the plan said North Carolina’s program would have more safeguards than neighboring Tennessee, where a similar district has not improved student performance after three years.

The bill passed both chambers on split votes.

Other signings include legislation aimed at boosting the state’s agricultural industry and helping veterans:

▪ Senate Bill 770 is this year’s farm bill, a multifaceted piece of legislation that is meant to help out agriculture interests. It allows schools in the state to give preference to using North Carolina-grown and raised food; creates agriculture emergency response teams, and eases regulations related to work on farm buildings. It passed both the House and Senate on split votes over some provisions that were controversial.

▪ SB105 sets up a place to voluntarily mark on income tax forms if a taxpayer or spouse is a miltiary veteran. The state will use the data to determine how best to help veterans.

▪ SB886 creates survivorship benefits for firefighters and rescue squad workers pension funds.

▪ SB865 increases the number of local governments that can participate in the state health plan for teachers and state workers.

▪ SB815 allows the Longleaf School of the Arts to participate in the state health plan.

▪ SB667 makes minor changes to election laws.

▪ SB508 amends several laws relating to bail bond, collection agency and criminal court mediation.

▪ HB742 clarifies licensing requirements for professional engineers; allows public schools to use licensed maintenance plumbers.

▪ HB483 changes land-use regulations on multi-phased developments.

Craig Jarvis: 919-829-4576, @CraigJ_NandO