charter schools

Welcome to the 10th edition of WFAE Talks, our weekly podcast in which WFAE News Director Greg Collard and reporters Lisa Miller and Ben Bradford discuss stories in the news and how they're covered. They also delve into general office banter.

This week, they discuss Duke Energy's continuing coal ash problems, an interpretation of state law that says charter schools don't have to reveal how much teachers are paid, and Central Piedmont Community College's decision to pull out of a federal loan program.

There is a lot going on with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, to say the least. The state will open 11 new charter schools in August and 26 next year. There’s a new reading law and many third graders in the state may have to go to summer reading camps. Union County is looking to redistrict hundreds of students. Common Core standards and digital learning are transforming what kids learn and how they learn it. State's school report cards are due for release this week, and CMS has yet to release its long-promised school data reports. And much more. Two of the city’s education reporters join us to share updates on everything going on with CMS.

North Carolina has received notices from 170 groups that want to open charter schools in 2015.  Forty-three of those schools are planned for Mecklenburg and 18 more for neighboring counties.  Two years ago, the state lifted its cap on charter schools.  This year 156 groups said they planned to apply, but only 70 ended up submitting applications and ultimately just 26 were approved.

A move to create a panel separate from the North Carolina Board of Education to oversee charter schools is not moving forward.  Instead, the House Education committee supported a bill Tuesday that creates a new advisory board.  Basically, it would reduce the size of the advisory council from fifteen to eleven members and allow the governor only three appointments as opposed to eight.  The advisory council recommends to the state board of education which charter schools should open and close. 

A charter school bill that would change the oversight of charter schools in North Carolina has raised a lot of questions and speculation.  The bill would appoint a body independent of the state board of education to decide which schools should open and close.  The bill also includes several other changes like doing away with criminal background checks for charter school employees. 

A bill that creates a new board to oversee charter schools is moving forward.  The Senate Education Committee approved it Wednesday.    

Senator Jerry Tillman of Randolph County wants to create a new board specifically to monitor charter schools and vet applications for new ones. 

North Carolina has 107 charter schools and dozens more are looking to open in the next couple of years.  State lawmakers today are considering a bill that would change the application process and oversight of these schools.     

The number of applications to open charter schools has jumped significantly since the charter school cap was lifted in 2011.  There used to be a couple dozen applications per year.  This year 156 groups plan to apply and that means a whole lot of work for the people who review them. 

Joel Medley is in charge of the office that oversees all of the state’s charter schools.  This year, he expected to hear from a lot of groups wanting to open schools, but not quite this many. 

GonchoA / Flickr

Charter schools are supposed to offer a free, independent alternative to traditional public schools. North Carolina has just over 100 of them, and the state board of education is expected to approve 25 more at its February meeting.

North Carolina is getting ready for a new breed of charter school.  They’re virtual schools, where students do all or most of their work online.  The state board of education Thursday is set to approve new policies to guide these schools.  They include paying the schools less per student than a regular charter and capping the student to teacher ratio.

North Carolina has no online charter schools, but it’s had a lot of interest in opening one.  That’s got the state board of education wondering how to deal with schools that operate so differently from traditional schools.