NEWS: Charter Cap Could Be Lifted in North Carolina

From The Associated Press:

Senate Republicans proposed sweeping changes Wednesday to North Carolina’s charter school law, including creating a commission to license them and new potential funding avenues in addition to eliminating a 100-school cap that has been the bane of charter advocates.

The bill, which would open the door to let charter schools get funds from counties and state lottery proceeds to buy land and buildings, would mark the most dramatic changes since the law authorizing these alternative schools was passed in 1996. Changes will be considered before a vote comes as soon as next week in the Senate education committee that initially debated the measure Wednesday.

Opposition to ending the current cap has withered as the General Assembly switched to the GOP this year and Republicans made it a campaign platform to permit more charter schools, which have open enrollment and don’t charge tuition. But they are run by private boards and exempt from many rules imposed on traditional public schools.

Under the cap, 53 of North Carolina’s 100 counties don’t have charter schools, which has led to more than 20,000 families on waiting lists, said Darrell Allison, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina.

Karen Sutton, 38, of Charlotte, told the committee that she had been on waiting lists for two years to get her fifth-grade daughter, Kailyn, in one of two local charter schools known for high academic achievement. She said Kailyn will perform better in a small classroom environment the charter schools provide, rather than in traditional schools.

“Please consider lifting this cap to help parents like me,” she said.

Committee co-chairman Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, reassured Sutton: “Your two-year wait is over.”