HB 219 To Shift More LEA Funds To Charters; Other K-12 Bills See Action This Week

The bill filing frenzy at the General Assembly continued this week with the introduction of House Bill 219, which is likely to renew a longstanding tug-of-war between LEAs and charter schools over funding. The bill, introduced by Rep. John Torbett (R-Gaston), a House K-12 Education Committee and Education Appropriations Committee Co-Chair, would limit the types of funding that school districts now legally can withhold from sharing with charter schools. Only money from trust funds, federal grants restricted as to use, and special programs could be set aside by LEAs and excluded from the required per-pupil share of local and other funds that must be sent to charter schools in their communities. LEAs, under H219, would no longer be able to exclude the following: reimbursements, indirect costs, tuition, fees for actual costs, sales tax revenues, sales tax refunds, federal appropriations made directly to the LEA, pre-kindergarten funds, appropriated fund balance, and interest income.

Katherine Joyce, NCASA’s Executive Director, said this legislation already is causing concerns from superintendents and other school district leaders.

“While we know the legislation aims to ensure equitable funding for students educated in both school districts and charter schools, this legislation as currently written will actually provide an unfair advantage to charter school students by forcing LEAs to share moneys they receive for programs and services that their local charter schools don’t even offer,” Joyce said. “We will be working to share this concern with the bill sponsors and hope our school administrators will do the same.”

Click here to access a webinar by the North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA) on LEA and charter school funding to learn more about why this proposed funding shift is concerning.

In addition to the funding shift, H219 would also: limit enrollment growth only in low-performing charters, prohibit the State Board of Education from considering the LEA impact when authorizing or renewing a charter, allow existing charters to launch a new ”micro school,” allow counties to provide facility funding to charters, and change the state funding of charters to reflect actual enrollment. The bill has been referred to the House Rules Committee, although it is likely to be moved to the House K-12 Education Committee for its first debate that is expected to occur before the General Assembly’s May 4th crossover deadline. That is the date by which policy bills not affecting the state budget must gain approval in their originating chamber and cross to the other to remain eligible for further action.

In other bill action this week, Sen Tom McInnis (R-Richmond) filed Senate Bill 187, which addresses one of NCASA’s priorities by reviving and expanding a former program allowing retired educators to return to work in high-need schools. In addition, the following legislation gained House approval and have been sent to the Senate: House Bill 11, which would change the governance structure for the state’s schools for the deaf and blind; and House Bill 60, which would set the second week of November as SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy) Awareness Week and encourage training for school personnel responsible for students with epilepsy or otherwise predisposed to seizures.

For a comprehensive listing of all state legislation affecting K-12 schools, including ones that were introduced this week or received other legislative action, view NCASA’s weekly bill status report.

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