Major charter school legislation moved a step closer to reality on Wednesday as the Senate Education committee approved HB 618 by a party-line voice vote.   If enacted into law, the legislation would, among other things, transfer authority to authorize charter schools from the State Board of Education (SBE) to the Charter School Advisory Board (CSAB).

Currently, CSAB makes recommendations to SBE which has final authority to approve all charter schools. Under the new legislation, sponsored by Rep. Tricia Cotham (R-Mecklenburg). CSAB would have the ability to approve charters. The State Board of Education would serve as an appeals board and be the final judge of all decisions appealed by the review board.

Opponents of the bill say it will strip the State Board of Education of its authority to authorize and manage charter schools in North Carolina. Charter school advocates say the bill will help to streamline the application process and help good schools replicate more quickly.

The animosity between these boards is no secret—and another story. Suffice it to say, the bold strokes are no surprise.  The bill would reduce a layer of bureaucracy and help CSAB address a bevy of charter school issues more effectively. That alone is reason enough to give the bill a serious review.

HB 618 is now under consideration by the Senate Rules Committee.