by Rick Henderson
Editor-in-Chief, Carolina Journal
The seventh iteration of Senate Bill 337, creating a separate advisory board to deal with public charter schools, passed the House last night by a 96-14 margin and will return to the Senate. In its original form, S.B. 337 would have set up a policymaking board independent of the State Board of Education.
A provision in the original measure forcing potential charter operators to pay fees gave some lawmakers and charter advocates pause. Then, the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law warned that the board would run afoul of the N.C. Constitution, which places the State Board of Education solely in charge of public schools, and that’s what charters are. Creating an independent board would have led to lawsuits, forcing the state to use tax dollars on litigation rather than schooling or other more pressing purposes. Moreover, some charter advocates worried that an independent board might not be able to offer resources to charter operators that had been provided by the Department of Public Instruction.
The House removed the fees, switched the board’s role to an advisory one, and is on the verge of sending the bill back to the Senate. Good catch.