by Brenée Goforth
Media Manager & Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
This morning, Carolina Journal published a story on the potential expansion of the online charter school, NC Virtual Academy. In the story, CJ reporter Lindsay Marchello reports:
On Thursday, June 11, the House passed Senate Bill 392, by a vote of 87-26. The bill now goes to the Senate for concurrence.
Marchello writes, S.B. 392, among other things:
removes the maximum student enrollment cap for a virtual charter school and permits the State Board of Education to allow a virtual charter school to grow by 20%.
The bill only applies to one of the two virtual charter schools in North Carolina, NC Virtual Academy. The other virtual school, NC Cyber Academy, is instead being monitored on a month-to-month basis.
The bill was drafted as a response to the increasing demand for this form of online schooling; however, some lawmakers oppose this growth due to the school’s poor performance on their school report card. According to Marchello:
The two virtual schools have been operating since the 2015 school year. Over that period, the schools have earned low marks for student performance. NC Virtual Academy has a “D” on its school report card and hasn’t met growth over the past two years.
Some lawmakers, such as Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, defend the low rating by attributing it to the challenging profiles of the students these schools take on. Others, such as Rep. Graig Meyer, D-Orange, find the ratings particularly problematic. According to Marchello:
Rep. Graig Meyer, D-Orange, introduced an amendment to S.B. 392 which would condition enrollment growth on improved student performance. NC Virtual Academy could increase student enrollment by 20% this year, but to do so the next year it would have to earn at least a “C” on its student report card.
[However,] The amendment narrowly failed with 56 lawmakers voting for it and 57 voting against it.
Charter schools are on the rise in the state. An estimated 200 charter schools will exist in North Carolina by 2020. The question is whether or not any of those will still be virtual by then.