Local News

Charter Schools Take Fight For Funds To State Supreme Court

Posted October 30, 2002 1:34 a.m. EST

— Local governments give money from fines and forfeitures to North Carolina's public schools every year. Charter schools, which are also public schools, do not receive those funds.

Charter schools want a share of the money and is taking its case to the North Carolina Supreme Court.

Like teachers at traditional public schools, teachers at Rocky Mount Charter School spend their own money on some necessary classroom items. Unlike traditional schools, charters are not getting fines and forfeiture money from the state.

"I have over 100 students. These are county students that came to us from other schools in the system and it would be very helpful to find some extra funding," said Belinda Carter, Rocky Mount Charter teacher.

There are 95 charter schools across the state that hope to eventually get that money.

Rocky Mount Charter School is the largest school of its kind in in the state. School leaders said the traditional school system owes the school about $200,000.

"The money has been withheld, continues to be withheld, and our children are just as deserving as other children in the county," Carter said.

"There is nothing that I know of in the law that would indicate that the charter schools are entitled to fines and forfeitures money," said Dr. George Norris, Nash-Rocky Mount school superintendent.

The Nash-Rocky Mount School System said it does not owe the money until the state Supreme Court or the General Assembly says it does. A decision could come as soon as next summer, but the school system said it will not pay until it is told to.

"We want to comply with the law, but we certainly don't want to do this at the expense of our kids," Norris said.

Wake County schools receive between $3 million and $4 million each year from fines and forfeitures. Cumberland County schools receive more than $1 million from the same source.

A technical corrections bill passed late in the legislative session prohibits charters from collecting the money retroactively, but opens the door for the schools to get the money after July of next year.