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9 NC Charters Approved

“NC school board OKs fall open for 9 new charters”
by Emery P. Dalesio, Associated Press
WWAY NewsChannel 3

Nine new charter schools are headed for August openings, the first since North Carolina lawmakers removed a 100-school statewide limit last year.

The State Board of Education approved the schools Thursday despite concerns that not enough was known about the impact the new charters could have on racial diversity and the ability of school districts to repay money borrowed for construction.

“There’s just a lot of financial issues,” school board member and state Treasurer Janet Cowell. She is responsible for protecting the state’s good credit rating and heads a commission examining the ability of other public bodies to repay borrowed money.

Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that get their funding from taxpayers but operate with fewer of the regulations facing traditional public schools.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Martin, Durham, and Chapel Hill-Carrboro school districts complained that the schools planning to open in their districts would draw away funding and alter the racial balance of existing schools.

While the schools were almost unanimously approved, the discussion again framed the differences over charter schools. Advocates say charters create education options for parents while critics say they set back public education by siphoning off funding and students with the most engaged parents.

“I’m not sure how long we can continue to fund two separate public school systems,” said school board member Jean Woolard of Plymouth. “It looks like we’re going down that slippery slope.”

Board Chairman Bill Harrison noted that the public school establishment and charter school advocates have often seen themselves as adversaries, but with the number of charters likely to multiply it’s time for that to end.

“We’re in a new day, and charter schools are part of the public school landscape. I don’t want us to forget charter schools are public

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