At 8:30 Wednesday morning in 544 LOB, lawmakers will take up a new version of Senate Bill 8, Charter School Reform.
House GOP leaders said last week they'd slowed down the process to consider input from the measure's opponents. Democrats expressed concerns about charter governance and standards, transportation and lunches for low-income students, and money problems for local boards who could find themselves facing a dozen or more new charters seeking to share education funds.
From a quick read, it looks like some of the Democrats' concerns are addressed (or at least acknowledged) in the latest version of the bill.
- It would require schools to offer transportation to low-income students living within 3 miles of the charter, and must have a plan for food services for students who would qualify for free or reduced-price meals at traditional schools.
- It would also put the new governing Commission under the State Board of Education's authority.
- And it would cap the number of new charters per year at no more than 50 statewide.
Charter supporters will like some things in the new version, too.
- Charter schools would still be eligible for more local funding, including lottery construction money.
- It would allow the establishment of "virtual charters" - online schools - as long as they have a "physical presence" in the state.
- And it would raise enrollment growth caps for existing schools from 10% per year to 20%.
House Speaker Thom Tillis said today he hopes to hold a floor vote on S8 this week.