[Speaker changes.] (Gavel.) Good morning everyone, I'd like to call this meeting to order. Let me begin by thanking our pages...if you'd please stand as we call your names. We have Christina Stone and we have Cole Winkler and Sarah Finney, Dee Anthony and Jackson Yelberton?????????? Thank you very much for being here and our Sargents-at-Arms...we have Steve Wilson, Robert Young, Justin Owens, and Billy Fritcher?????????? Of course, you all know that we're going to be looking at the public charter school bill, Senate Bill 337 today. We're going to be...Senator Tillman's going to be explaining the bill. We're gonna have committee discussion. We're gonna be reserving time at the end for public comment and we will see where that gets us by ten o'clock but we're gonna go through that format so I will be cutting off Senate Comment to make sure we have time for public comment. [Speaker changes.]Senator Apodaca. [Speaker changes.] This is...it's 10:05 already so have we runover? [Speaker changes.] Eleven...I was thinking Central Time Zone. [Speaker changes.] Right, Senator Tillman, you have the floor to explain your bill. [Speaker changes.] Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming. Members, thank you. Today I'm going to be presenting the bill with the help of Staff on the Charter Public Schools. Number one, I want us all to remember that we have a great public school system. We have a great charter school system and I want you to remember they're all public schools and we're all here to support what's best for our students. If you got good ideas in theory you would be sharing them with one another ... in practice, you're not. You oughta' be working harmoniously to help these children get the best education you can. That's not occurring. Ideally, the State Board of Education and the Charter Advisory Committee of the past would be working hand-in-glove to promote the positive on both sides. That has not been the case. Now, if that's not the case...and the reason we have charter public schools, ladies and gentlemen, is the marketplace demanded it. It's all over America. It's not in North Carolina, it's everywhere. People want choice. If you are locked into a poorly performing school and you have no choices, then you're dead on arrival. Where parents and students are not satisfied, they will demand a choice. Whether we have a charter bill or not, folks, they will seek out what works best for them and their children. Now, some people say, well, parents don't know what's best. Folks, parents know what they want and we've gotta provide a means to get there. If there were not a need, we would not have charter public schools. If charter public schools do not succeed and meet those needs, they will die on the vine...the market will determine that and the market only works where you have choice. If you don't have anywhere else to go, you have no choice and the marketplace can't work. Public schools, for the main, are doing a super good job...drop out rates are lower than they've ever been and there are a lot of progress. There are a lotta places where they're not making progress and that's why we have this bill. And, at this time, I am going to ask the Staff to run through this bill, then we'll take committee questions and comments, then we'll go to the public. I would like for ?????? or Cara to weigh in on the bill before you. [Speaker changes.] Staff? [Speaker changes.] I'm going to be using the summary that all of you have as the reference to go through this. [Speaker changes.] But, prior to that, ??????????? We do have an amendment that we have passed out...have we not? [Speaker changes.] Yes sir. [Speaker changes.] Mister Chairman. [Speaker changes.] Yes, we'll need a ...Senator Apodaca moves for adoption. [Speaker changes.] It's just a technical clean up. This is all this is. There will be a PCS coming when we vote the bill next week. [Speaker changes.] Do we have any questions or comments on the amendment? Senator Stein. [Speaker changes.] Thank you, Mister Chairman. Question about the second section of the amendment...the page two, lines 11 to 12 on the removal. Am I right in interpreting the amendment that members of the charter board can actually kick off the superintendent of instruction under... [Speaker changes.]
Just want to make sure I'm reading it right. First of all, that's in the bill. The members of the charter advisory board, in the bill, may eliminate a member. [SPEAKER CHANGES] But not the Superintendent of Public Instruction, under the bill. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Could we, I think the staff has an explanation, if I could have [SPEAKER CHANGES] I'd be surprised. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Actually the amendment actually cleans that up because what we inadvertently did was one of the ?? members was not going to be able to be removed. The amendment makes it consistent so only an appointed member could be removed but the superintendant, the treasurer and the lieutenant governor could not be. And that's why it's in the technical amendment to clean that up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you for that clarification. Any further questions or comments? We have a motion on the floor. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I'm just, sorry. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay. ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I just have not been through. I only got to number 2 out of 7. If you could briefly identify what the other ones do just so we know what's going on, to make sure. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Staff please. [SPEAKER CHANGES] The first one on page 2, line 5, that's a conforming page. The voting privileges are set out in 29 A1 C, they're all voting members except for the superintendant and so that's just a clean-up. Page 211 and 12, to correct that cross-reference so that it's only the appointed members, not the exofficio that can be removed. Page 4, line 23, there's an unneeded state that was added. That's just a clean-up to take that out. Page 5, lines 27 through 28, that's a conforming change. There was a missed reference to the preliminary chartering entities that are being repealed elsewhere in the bill so that's just to make a conforming change to indicate that it's the charter board ?? Page 9 lines 10 and 11, also conforming change to clarify this is the section that deals with teachers that are enrolled in the retirement system that the state board is still providing funding to charter schools but the charter board is approving so it's just a clarifying change. Page 11, line 9, there was a typo in this sentence. It said asset and it should have been and, so that's correcting that. Page 13, line 31, that's a drafting convention that we typical use shall rather than must. Page 13, line 33 again a drafting convention just to keep the numbering straight and the next one is the same. And then on page 15, line 16 through 17, there were two other sections in the statutes for the health plan and for the retirement system that refer back to this section so those needed to be brought in as conforming changes. And then finally, page 15 line 19 is changing the effective date for the charter board to be appointed from April 1 to August 1, since April 1 is rapidly coming upon us. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Any further questions? All in favor of the motion? All opposed? The ayes have it. The amendment passes and the bill as amended is before you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] ?? if you would, continue? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes sir. So the first section of the bill, section 1A, creates the North Carolina public charter school board, and it goes through the purpose of the board and the qualifications and all of the powers and duties of that board. One thing I did want to point out is that in that section the state board would have the authority to veto by three fourths vote any action adopted by the vote of the charter board and that veto would have to be taken 45 days within the date that the charter board voted on that action. It might be easier for me to just do it by the section of the charter school statute so 238 29B makes, would state that only non-profit corporations would be able to apply to the charter board to establish a charter school, so there would be a change from what the current law is where persons or groups of persons can make the application. The option to obtain preliminary approval is repealed from the statutes. Applicants would no longer have to submit copies of their application to the local board of education or the LEA in which the charter school would be located. And the charter board does not have to consider any information received from the local board regarding the charter application. The charter board would be able to establish reasonable fees for initial and renewal of charter applications and they would follow
APA under 150b to do that. In 238 29c, preliminary approval of applications for charter schools, that would be repealed; all applications would go directly to the new charter board. In 29d, final approval of application of charter schools, there is some ?? that went on, so conforming changes and the charter board would be encouraged to give preference to applications that show capacity to provide learning experiences for students identified at risk of academic failure and in improving enrollment growth for existing charters the board would not have to find that the local board of the LEA in which the charter was located, had the opportunity to be heard about impacts on the enrollment growth of the charter school, what kind of impact that would have on the LEA’s ability to provide a sound basic education to its students. In 29e, charter school operations, they would not be able to agree to be accountable to the local board. All charters would be accountable to the state charter board and at the request of the charter the local board of education of the LEA in which the charter is located would be required to lease an available building for a dollar a year unless it can show the lease is not economically or practically feasible or that it needs the space for its own enrollment needs. In 29f, the general requirements, the bill would remove requirements that set out that certain percentages of teachers employed in charter schools must hold teaching licenses and all criminal background checks would be done by the charter school Board of Directors so at the charter school level. Admissions requirements, there would be some changes regarding multiple siblings, if there was a lottery and multiple siblings were applying the school would enter just one surname, right now the single surname requirement only applies to multiple birth charters. Let’s see, assets, if the charter school is dissolved or the charter is not renewed all assets purchased with public funds become property of the state and returned to the general fund rather than the LEA in which the charter is located. In 29g, non-renewal or termination of charters, the charter board would be able to terminate, not renew, or find applicants to assume the charter through a competitive bid process established by the charter board and the board would have to develop rules on the assumption of the charter that cover all aspects of the operation and public assets would transfer to the new entity. In 29h there’s some changes to local funds for charter schools. The bill would provide that per people share of the current expense fund has to be transferred to the charter within 30 days of receipt of monies into the local current expense fund and LEAs would have to provide each charter that they transfer money to specific information within a 30 day time period including its total amount of monies that it has in each of the funds that they are allowed to have under 115c 426c, the membership numbers that they’re using to calculate the per people share of the current expense fund, and how that local current expense fund was calculated, and then in actions to enforce the provisions of the transfer of local funds courts would award the prevailing party reasonable attorney’s fees in costs and interests. In 29h, review of the charter school, it would repeal language currently in the statutes that provides the state board may establish a charter school advisory committee and it would also repeal the date in the statutes that provides that final approval of charter schools must be granted by March 15. There would be no date ? in the statute any more, the charter board would come up with the timeline. 29j would repeal that whole section where currently there’s a description of how local boards can provide support to charters within their LEAs and private persons and entities are encouraged to provide funds and help them so that section would be repealed. 29k repeals the criminal history checks conducted by the state board of education that’s done at the state level right now but because of the change I discussed earlier criminal history checks would be done by the charter board at the charter school level, the local charter school board would do that. In section 2, we get into some changes in the uniform budget format. The bill would eliminate the fund that
LEAs currently can have for special programs, there's not really been apparently a clear definition of what those are so this will eliminate the ability to have a fund for those programs. And then the bill would add language that special funds of individual schools would not be included as a part of the local current expense fund of a LEA for determining the per people share that has to be transferred. Section 3 makes some changes to the property taxes and certain real property is exempt from property taxes right now, specific criteria are met, and this bill would modify one of the exemptions by stating that the assumption would apply if the building is wholly and exclusively used for education purposes by a charter school even if the charter school is not the owner of the building. And then section 4 of the bill is just provides for a phase in of the membership of the state charter board. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Sen. Tillman. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you ??, thank you staff for the work that you've done on this. We started this process in January, I've had about 26 meetings and 17 or 18 version, I believe we may be on 17 or 18 now, I'm not sure, but we did this work preliminary to coming to you today, and everybody that's wanting to be at the table has been at the table and has given me valuable input on this bill. And we're trying our best to clarify the structure, the organization and the funding that's been in contention for a good while. That's what this bill attempts to do, Ill be glad to take questions starting with the committee. Mr. Chair. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Alright, do we have any questions from the committee? Sen. Allran. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. I really like your bill, Sen. Tillman. I just have a question. On line 17, it says that the state superintendent of public instruction is a nonvoting member, and then it says there are 11 members. But then that would make 12 members, and then on line 5 of page 2, it says all members are voting members, but that member's not a voting member. I just wondered if you should call the secretary an ex officio member with no vote? Isn't that what you normally do when you- I mean you said she's a member, and then you said she's not a member. And you said they all have a vote, and then she doesn't have a vote. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Staff looks like they have an answer to this. [SPEAKER CHANGES] That's what the amendment does, it clarifies all of that. The first part of the amendment takes care of the voting and nonvoting inconsistencies. [SPEAKER CHANGES] ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Great. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. Sen. Robinson. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr. Chair, and several questions here regarding this: Would you, Sen. Tillman, just as a preliminary, tell me on the current advisory council for charters under the state board of education, who is represented and how are they appointed? [SPEAKER CHANGES] The current one has been, is being abolished. [SPEAKER CHANGES] No, I'm asking currently, who's represented? How are they appointed and who's represented on that if that's your boy? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Since they're gone, I don't know. I haven't even thought about that Sen. Robinson. Since they're not going to be in effect any more, I don't even care. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, well I do. Can staff answer the question? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Staff can, I'm sure. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Staff? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I believe they're appointed by the state board, and there're representatives of the state board or DPI who can answer that right now. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Do we have a member of DPI or state board in the audience that could answer that? Please identify yourself and what agency you're with. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I'm Martez Hill, the executive director for the state board of education. There are 15 members of the advisory council, 8 are appointed by the governor, 3 by the House, 3 by the Senate, and 1 by the state's superintendent and of those members, I think 11 of them are actually running a charter school or they are a member of a board of a charter school. One is a city superintendent, one is a former superintendent, and one is a former superintendent. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Alright, thank you very much. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up, Mr. Chair? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Go ahead, Sen. Robertson. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Leads to my next question in terms that I heard. Sen. Tillman, in giving your comments,
[0:00:00.0] …Talk about the lack of collaboration or working etcetera and I know that when the guy will say that was said with the intent of that collaboration and working with the state board. So, my question is that Charter representation is on that advisory board, what is and they have in fact approve charters since we lived at the ___[00:30]. So, what has been the issue in terms of the need for a charter board itself? What are those issues that have laid to the need for charter board as opposed to the current framework of advisory council? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, I will talk about that but I do wanted to know the Senate Bill 10 eliminated them and this bill also eliminates the board because there has been friction and there has been a feeling that we are accepting you gradually at best and other have been some conflicts where that the two sides do not work corporate together, we are sharing the ideas of what's working in charter schools and public schools, it’s not work like I wanna to work and we need a new cast of players and we are doing that with many boards and commissions and this happens to be one of them and there are good reasons for doing what we did. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I have got more Mr. Chairman but I will come back. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Great, thank you for your graciousness and we will come back to you. Senator Bryan. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I’m not sure your mic is on. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I may have missed it somewhere but I was wondering since the new board is supposed to be made up of members who, but incarnation is support of advocacy for I think to has some good strengthening of charter schools, do we have any conflict of interest requirements and my concern is for example if this board get significantly stacked with people who are connected with private developers of charter schools and then they can’t figure out a way to have a sort of easy time of getting their stuff established etcetera. Do we have any, is there any protection against conflicts of interest with these charters? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chairman. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, Senator. [SPEAKER CHANGES] If you trust your Senate in your house and your Governor to make a good appointment and you trust the Lieutenant Governor and the Treasurer who will be a member of this floor, if you trust those appointments it will be fine, if you don’t trust them you let the charter board know they can ask their own member. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up Mr. Chairman. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, follow up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] We trust and we all human beings and money talks as they say and empowering influence talks so are you open to considering some kind of conflict debentures, provisions or if are some proposals in that regard? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chairman. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, Senator Tillman. [SPEAKER CHANGES] What you are saying and Senator Bryan could apply to any board, any commission in the state and I say you don’t do that until you say there is a need and then we will take steps to remove the member. As we would if we have poorly performing charter schools, I know the charter school people don’t want poorly performing schools and we will get rid of those and I’m all for that. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, follow up one other additional question Mr. Chairman. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I thank you Senator Tillman and the other question is, I looked at I happy to see the language of the charter schools, it must make efforts to reasonably reflect the ratio and ethnic composition of the LEA in which they are located and I’m wondering and this maybe a question for staff or the Senate, is that language changed in anyway some of my constituents have indicated to me that the previous language was more directed that it shall reasonably reflect or something, can you let me know of that language change from the original requirements? Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, on page 10 line 27 you can see the underline new language make efforts to has been added to the phrase, ‘Shall reasonably’. Shall it make efforts to reasonably now. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chairman can you…Senator Tillman can you let us say why we remove from shall reasonably reflect to shall make efforts too? I thought like the old saying about trying and you never get it… [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Stein is good at splitting hairs that didn’t come up in the legal profession. I think that both mean the same thing the intent is… [0:04:58.9] [End of file…]
I and I think what I well functions are reported by the way will be subject to all ethics regulations all just like every other board will break out your other concerns I will problem with that and I don't see much difference layer I think into areas that you what is a definitely incentives to talk to here's German invasion search only not appreciate your bill what are another slaughter for the scone and listens serious matter as we as we work to improve the educational system as a whole appreciate also brought some question and I I would is a look at that language understand why initially she might have been some concern about it but I think we experience across a stay is one where often you have schools that are trying to do exactly that reflect the demographic and their ileitis as you noted in our district now Saudi Howard charter school all is a heavily minority all about makeup of the student population in that it doesn't reflect the to the population ovale a despite I'm sure their best efforts to do exactly so I think it's appropriate to to say they shall make entities reason whatever speakers indicate wondering kidnaps kids in and take him to a charter school this is a voluntary situation where parents are seeking send their kids there so having the language is appropriate appreciate I just follow up on that out I was Israel's first but the schools are one reflect and sometimes they can't impart what I can't get another voluntary they don't provide transportation to get the metal rod free lunches kids so if you're a parent about allowing if your low-income parent know how much earnings and your kid wants to go to a charter school while highly together you'll have transportation our unit feedlots where is there in the public school and have a school bus and I would have much provided to them so really it's not a choice it's a choice for middle class and and I think it charter school foxholes are support charter schools because I do believe in innovation and I have innovation question for you to the perplexing session in your bill where you're taking out competition with I understand what forget their I think that for charter schools really were so that every kid has a chance of having access to the most innovative ways to deliver education has to be a requirement that there be some transportation provided in some food provided if you are low income so then have to go out there and get every kid but that we don't foreclose the opportunity for children to have that opportunity so I have two amendment's motion from one account to get in but if I can have those distributed appreciate it soon essential we win this one the around the corral several times prior charter legislation just goes now I think in many cases providing transportation and school food service I IS that you can really start of the charter school in the list I would ask you sex down to study the case of those charter schools like to Sugarcreek with about 90% Minardi how they get there by like someone to get their fire that has for so much higher than their cohorts over and above scopes of your partially right and the I'm sure electronic it but you can snap your fingers and make that happen overnight before we vote on Masters bill sponsor question is what I do something I had not considered that you give them three years before you put these requirements on in the don't do it right away if we put in sort of a grace period for start of schools is this Sunday dinner and I had to take off the table that you want to talk about it were going to have one more meeting to vote on this and take some last-minute amendments that will be CS coming next week that will include a couple of other ideas these are not in the air and the using the you can do what you want your written him him son you can present them now or have about on more you might want will more discussion about these are not my difficulty about yourself and to see how I feel about the amount of time to read them I'm not sure that I'm in love with fortunate after every meal I like you as I just
I'll hold these amendments[SPEAKER CHANGES]that's what I suggest if we got questions or issues we can discuss them today then offline next week the two of you can discuss them and perhaps you two can come up with a amendment that we can discuss next week[SPEAKER CHANGES]may I have the follow-up question I don't know if anybody else yes you may[SPEAKER CHANGES]thank you thank you it had to do with why the competition ideal I mean the whole notion of charter schools is to have as many alternatives within the public schools structure that's available to the kids and the best ideal shall win why are we denying local school boards from being able to do a charter school or a University from able to do a charter school I don't know if any of them have done them yet, but why a matter of law would we preclude them from doing it I understand what the amendment says only non-profits can do it[SPEAKER CHANGES]Senator Tillman staff has a question unless you would like to comment on that first they have an answer[SPEAKER CHANGES] let staff go ahead[SPEAKER CHANGES]okay[SPEAKER CHANGES]it always been like actually once you get the charter you have to have a non-profit even if a LEA were to apply for a charter school if their charter school application were approved they would have to form a non-profit to actually run it so the change that you reference in terms of Universities through LEA's they no longer would be able to do preliminary approval which is something they can do right now of a charter school for anybody it takes away any entity from doing preliminary approvals but it would not impair or impede the ability of an LEA or an University to create a non-profit board then apply for a charter school[SPEAKER CHANGES]Senator Hartsell had a question[SPEAKER CHANGES]actually I have several questions[SPEAKER CHANGES]I have seven more minutes before I have to go to public comments so I know Senator Hartell and Robinson have a couple of questions and if anyone else does and the Senator Allran[SPEAKER CHANGES]regrettable I didn't have an opportunity to look at this version until last night a chance to talk with the primary sponsor several of my concerns I've been involved charters one way or another for quite some time including the original legislation which has not been really allowed to be used very well I think that what drives what we have here the first question is really something of what Senator Stein just asked why do we want to eliminate the preliminary approval from the local school and universities just because they haven't taken advantage of it why would we want to eliminate it?[SPEAKER CHANGES]senator[SPEAKER CHANGES]Mr chairman[SPEAKER CHANGES]Senator Tillman[SPEAKER CHANGES]Senator Hartsell we have a hundred and fifteen school units LEA's I had one Superintendent come to me about becoming a charter LEA when we have a serious need out there we can always open the gate to do that I want to say the need I don't think it's there I don't think we need those at this time[SPEAKER CHANGES]you have the follow-up or another question Senator Hartsell[SPEAKER CHANGES]I'll follow-up with that response why many of the earlier colleges that we have are shrinking community colleges are in effect schools and yet there are no review of that process and actually there are several formats out there that are similar to that it seems to me that it would be useful to have in some form of fashion community colleges in some case Universities involved in this process because we've given them some opportunities before they never integrated it why aren't we looking at the community colleges[SPEAKER CHANGES]Mr chair[SPEAKER CHANGES]Senator Tillman[SPEAKER CHANGES]Senator Hartsell I never heard of any college anywhere be called a charter school there are traditional public school students to many of them are on the college campuses they are in programs that are set up where they can cooperate between the two I don't know where you getting that[SPEAKER CHANGES]I'm not saying that[SPEAKER CHANGES]do you have a follow-up[SPEAKER CHANGES]I'm not saying charter schools I'm simply saying their structural organization original high schools out in the far east is in effect if you look at the formative organization it is a charter and it's just set up a little different with a different format it seems to me that our goals should be to integrate the system in some fashion such that we have
All these forms of organization that are dealt with in some kind of integrated fashion. that's all I'm saying. And it goes along with the third question, and just before, the reason I was late coming in here, I was talking with a fellow who was a home schooler. And there's a bill coming through to modify the definitions and treatments of home schooling, that permits some other folks to do on an individualized basis, what in effect makes a home school something of a charter school. And it seems to me it's not a charter, but it's taught by someone other than a parent. And there's folks out there who have, in effect the same thing. Again, it seems to me it would be useful to integrate that system. [SPEAKER CHANGES]Senator Tillman. Okay, that was more of a comment. [SPEAKER CHANGES]I don't want to talk about these things. [SPEAKER CHANGES]That was more a comment than a question. Let's do this, I've got Senator Allran, and then Senator Robinson and Bryant. Let's see if we can get to that in 5 minutes. I'd really like to hear from the public special, because we have some time for questions next week. Senator Allran. [SPEAKER CHANGES]Thank you, Mr. Chairman. On page 9, subsection 6 on page 9, I'm not sure if maybe there's been some amendments or not. I'm just going by the original bill that was handed out to us. Why is it apparently an optional to have criminal record checks for perspective employees? I would think that at a school you would always at least do a criminal record check for virtually everyone. [SPEAKER CHANGES]Senator Tillman's staff appears to have a good answer for this, if you'd like to defer. [SPEAKER CHANGES]Yes. [SPEAKER CHANGES]This language tracks very similarly to what's required for LEA's, and another section of the statute is also optional for LEA's. My understanding ismost in-practice do it, but it's not required. [SPEAKER CHANGES]They all, I'm sure, do it but it's not required. [SPEAKER CHANGES]Senator Allran, do you have a follow up? [SPEAKER CHANGES]It just seems kind of ironic and sort of counter intuitive. You're talking about children. I mean, what's the issue of getting a criminal records check on virtually anybody? I mean, it just seems like something that would be the minimal thing you would do, almost before you do anything else. [SPEAKER CHANGES]Mr. Chairman? [SPEAKER CHANGES]Senator Tillman. [SPEAKER CHANGES]If I'm voting hundreds of thousands of dollars out there to form a non-profit, to form a charter school, I'm darn sure I'm going to be protective of it. I just don't want to be told every step I have to take. [SPEAKER CHANGES]Let's go to Senator Robinson, and Senator Bryant, and then we'll go to some. [SPEAKER CHANGES]Okay, just to follow up to that since Allran. I had the same question because I don't understand that. In most agencies, in most establishments where children are the client, I know we have some provisions that people who work with them have to have criminal record checks. Staff, is that, and you're saying this is an optional policy? [SPEAKER CHANGES]Staff? [SPEAKER CHANGES]Mr. Chairman. [SPEAKER CHANGES]Let's, Senator Tillman? [SPEAKER CHANGES]Guilford county is not required to do that in their own school system. They do it, and they do it. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES]Okay, Senator Bryant. [SPEAKER CHANGES]Two quick comments, Mr. Chair. On is again, on the conflict of interest piece. I just want to make it clear, and I'm paraphrasing, but my understanding of the state ethics requirements are that if I'm on the board I can't make money directly on the transaction I'm engaged in, I'm approving on the board. I doesn't preclude me from having a business relationship with people who are coming before the board in other transactions that are not related to the transactions before the board. So, I just only throw that out, in terms of an appearance of impropriety where some people are going to accept it, and some people are going to reject it. You don't want a bunch of complains and everybody on the board being investigated. so I just throw that out. and secondly, I do, it may be symbolic in some respect, but I want to encourage keeping that old language 'shall reasonable reflect on the diversity' piece. I am concerned about the level of segregation, or racial concentration of these charters, even where they are significantly African American. I think our statement of policy should be strong. Clearly the board can look at how they enforce, and what efforts our people are making. And I think we may need to look at other issues around why that divide is developing, and the educational advantages or disadvantages of that. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES]Alright. Thank you for your comments. Senator Tillman, any comments on that, or would you like to go to public comments?
[SPEAKER CHANGES] Here's what I'd like to do. We have got five people signed up and I'm going to give you the order and if you could be at the microphone and be ready so we can keep moving through this. You will have two minutes and the sargeant at arms will be letting you know when the time is up and let's keep to that so we can keep on schedule. We do have meetings to get to. The first person to have is ?? Pruden, followed by Baker Mitchell, and we're going to alternate back and forth between pro and con for this bill. We do have three people who are unfavorable towards the bill and two that are favorable so if there's one person more that's favorable that would like to speak, we could put you in at the end but that isn't necessary so- and please give your name and who you're with, for the record, and the second person will be Baker Mitchell. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you senator Soucek, senator Tillman, and members. My name is Edward Pruden, I'm superintendent of schools in Brunswick county. We appreciate the opportunity to share our concerns. Like their counter parts in public schools, students in charter schools also deserve highly qualified teachers. Many charter schools do not include a high school component and those students usually finish their K 12 educations in public high schools with one hundred percent highly qualified teachers. That being the case, why does this bill weaken the requirements for teacher licensure in charter schools? I appreciate the convesations that is already taking place on the topic of on the softening of the language about reflecting the ethnic makeup of the community. As you know, governor McCrory interest in Korea and technical education in North Carolina schools is very high and the bill would cause the transfer of C T E funds from an L E A to a charter school whether or not the charter school actually offers C T E classes whereas the North Carolina constitution vests authority over public schools and the state board of education. Why is it necessary to create a separate board to oversee charter schools? The bill would create a separate system of charter schools in North Carolina parallel to and apart from traditional public schools system. Creation of a separate charter school board appears to diminish the authority of the governor and the six new members of the state board of education he has recently appointed. At a time when state and local governments are challenged for resources and are attempting to be frugal of tax payer's money, it seems unnecessary, redundant, and wasteful to create a second board to oversee public schools. In closing, if the purpose of charter schools is to serve as laboratories of innovation from which public schools may benefit and if we wish to encourage collaborations that are growing around the state, then this bill would seem to have the unintended consequence of completely separating and driving apart the two components of our public school system. I thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you mister Pruden. And- committee, one thing I recommend for us to do is , this public comment is very good. Sometimes things are stated as rhetorical questions, sometime it's stated as fact. Let's continue to go through this and look at what is actual and what is not because it is a complicated bill and not just because something is purported as fact doesn't mean it always is so let's continue to use this as a debating point, not necessarily one hundred percent authority. We have Baker Mitchell followed by Carl Forsythe. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Tillman, senator Soucek, I wish to thank you for bringing this bill forward. My name is Baker Mitchell, I'm the incoming chairman of the North Carolina alliance for charter schools and this bill has a hundred percent support from the alliance. We just finished up our state wide conference last weekend. We had nearly two hundred attendees and they were uniformly in favor of this bill. I think we should note that the bill actually increases the accountability of charter schools to the state and to the citizenry through the additional reporting that's required in this bill so the interest of all our groups is education of our children and the highest possible quality. We want to be totally transparent and have the parents and state know how these schools are performing so we're one hundred percent in favor of this bill. Thank you very much. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. Next ?? Carl Forsythe and then Doug Hanes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Good morning. My name is Carl Forsythe and I'm the managing director of Voyager academy charter school in Durham. Voyager academy has twelve hundred and fifty students in grades kindergarten through eleventh grade. We have two thousand students on our wait list and this year we had almost
three thousand applications for our school. I'm here today to ask the committee to reject the proposal to create a North Carolina public school charter board. Based on my six years of experience as a charter school director, the creation of a charter school board would not be in the best interests of the charter schools in our state, or in the best interests of public education as a whole. The state constitution provides for a general and uniform system of free public schools. Senate bill 337 sets up a dual public school system within our state. It would create a negative climate of competition that would not benefit the children of North Carolina. The current structure of oversight of charter schools and the current approval process for charter schools is sufficient. Charter schools work best within the overall structure of a ?? school system. For many years I was an elementary school principal in Durham Public Schools. And when I was a principal, I was very very competitive. I wanted my school to be the best school in Durham, and for my kids to perform at the highest levels. Even though I was competing with my fellow principals, I knew I could call on them at any time, for new ideas and for different ways of enhancing student learning. We were all working towards the same goal. This positive competition was because we were all working towards the same goal and the same mission. Senate bill 337 does not foster this type of collaboration. Our schools will not improve if we pit public school educators against one another in a battle for students and scarce resources. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Please finish your comments if you could. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Public schools operate best when district and charters, professional educators, work together and learn from one another. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. We have Doug Haynes followed by Leigh Bordley. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much. My name is Doug Haynes, and I am a founding board member and now chief executive of the Rocky Mountain Prep Charter School in Rocky Mountain. We are one of the original charter schools from 1997. We now have over 1100 students. We are a school-wide Title 1 school with 70% free and reduced lunch. We provide transportation services, free and reduced lunch, and have been doing a lot of new things at our school. We are very much in support of this bill and ask for your support of it. We believe that this bill, particularly the governance board, will restore the original intent of charter schools, which was to provide freedom to innovate within public education, in exchange for accountability. And over time, as I've come back recently from being out of charter schools for awhile, I found that we're really regulated in many ways just like other public schools. We have some flexibility in the way we do our financing, but in many other ways, the Department of Public Instruction, which in some services is very supportive, as far as policy, is set up just to serve district schools. And so it has become very difficult for us to innovate with things like teacher evaluations, certifications, and other things to get greater accountability. We also support the reimbursement of local funds. We have one local district that provides, that owes us 850,000 dollars in a given year. It pays us quarterly. Remember we don't get capital funds, but the last two payments typically come in the last two months of the year. So that makes it difficult from a cash flow point of view. So this provision would help a charter school financially that gets no money for a building debt. We also support the uniform budget format, to eliminate the special programs. We've actually been to court, against a district, that did move funds into a special program. We understand that they have programs, but we believe that it is taxpayer money, and if we find other ways to serve our students with the funding that we've received from the state, without capital funds, we should have the right to do that. Thank you very much for your support. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. We have Leigh Bordley and then our last speaker will be Eddie Goodall. We do have a meeting at eleven o'clock we'll need to clear out for. So please keep to the two minutes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay. My name is Leigh Bordley. I'm a member of the Durham Public Schools Board of Education. But I'm not speaking as a board member today. I'm speaking as a parent of Durham Public School children, as a product of the Durham, of the North Carolina public school system, and a lifelong North Carolinian. I want to thank you for your service and your dedication to our public education system. I believe it's the foundation of our democracy, the engine of our economy, and a sacred moral responsibility. I'd like to raise several concerns that I have about this bill. I want to encourage you to strengthen the language concerning transportation. I don't know what Senator Stein's amendment might say, but I'm guessing I'm in favor of it. My concern is that parents who are not able to transport their children are prevented from even applying to charter schools. If the plan is not publicized and put forward in advance, parents do not even apply. So that in Durham, for example, where 66% of the children attending Durham public schools currently receive free and reduced lunch, parents are put in the position of deciding whether their child will eat, or whether their
A child will have the opportunity to attend a charter school. I don't think that's the choice you want to put parents on...in this situation to having to make. I also encourage you to reconsider eliminating the requirements regarding teacher licensure and Senate Bill 361, which you soon will be considering, you are strengthening teacher quality standards, but the provisions in this Bill will pull you in another direction having excellent qualified teachers in front of all of our children is their success...is key to the success of our schools. I believe charter schools will be disadvantaged by this provision. Children in those schools deserve highly trained teachers just as we have in the traditional public schools. In addition to these specific concerns, I want you to know this legislation will hinder the efforts we are making in Durham to build the kind of cooperative partnership that Senator Tillman has described. Mr. Forsythe has been working with members of the Durham Public School Board of Education to come around, come together around core principals that we believe will support all of our children in getting the education that they deserve. This legislation does not support those efforts. I encourage you to change it. Thank you. SPEAKER CHANGES: Thank you and finally we have Mr. Eddie Goodall. SPEAKER CHANGES: Thank you Mr. Chairman and thank you Senator Tillman for bringing for the Bill. I am the Executive Director of the NC Public Charter Schools Association. We in October went around to four or five cities talking to existing charter schools and the public about what changes needed to be make, made. We think this Bill incorporates most of those. I do...I did want to speak to point out a couple that it did not address. We still would like to share in lottery funds and we also would like to clear up the issue of whether or not county Commissions can fund charter schools or their support organizations. The interpretations, I think, by the Attorney General's office years ago, has suggested they cannot, and we just see this as something that can be corrected fairly easily by adding this to the Bill. Again, all County Commissioners won't want to do this but we're talking about situations in which they can help the charter schools and either possibly get a charter school going or not and we just think they ought, the taxpayers and county commissions ought to have that option. So, thank you very much for the Bill and we support it. SPEAKER CHANGES: Thank you very much. I appreciate the public comments and comments from the Senate. I will allow Senator Tillman to have a final comment and then we will move onto our next meeting. Thank you for... SPEAKER CHANGES: Very briefly, we have a high school in my district that has a pharmacist that wanted to teach a chemistry class at one of the high schools. Of course, he was not highly qualified or certified so he couldn't teach chemistry. He had more chemistry than any of the chemistry teachers. We have a medical doctor in Asheboro who wanted to teach a health occupation class at the high school. Can't do it, you're not highly qualified and certified by our standard. So folks, anytime you've got a piece of bologna there's two sides to it. I don't care how thin you slice it, you have to look beyond what might appear on the paper. Thank you. SPEAKER CHANGES: Thank you very much. Meeting is adjourned.