Charter school advocates request cap removal

Posted May 3, 2010 3:59 p.m. EDT
Updated May 3, 2010 4:46 p.m. EDT

— A statewide group that supports charter schools is recommending the state eliminate its cap on the number of charters allowed.

The North Carolina Alliance for Public Charter Schools says for the state to have any hopes of winning hundreds of millions in federal education funding, legislators should lift the cap for phase two of the Race to the Top (RTTT) competition.

The state missed out on the first round of RTTT grants.

Charter school advocates said the state’s grant proposal was handcuffed from the start because the state hadn't demonstrated support for the alternative schools. North Carolina has limited the number of charter schools to no more than 100 since they began in 1996. A bill approved by the House last year would have raised the cap to 106.

The state also tracks student performance at charter schools. According to a new policy, any school that that don't meet a certain benchmark two out of the next three years will be closed.

Leaders at charter schools claim they are being unfairly targeted.

“With our state facing a deficit in excess of a billion dollars, we can ill afford to put obstacles in the way of receiving over $400 million in federal funds. By passing common sense legislation with bi-partisan support that clearly benefits the citizens of this state, it is a win-win proposition," Paul J. Norcross, chairman of the NC Alliance of Public Charter Schools and Phoenix Academy in High Point, said in a statement on Monday.

The group said lifting the cap will dramatically improve North Carolina’s student achievement across diverse populations and increase high school graduation rates and college attendance and success rates.