School Board expected to support resolution opposing school funding bill

Stanly County Board of Education is expected to support a resolution during its meeting Tuesday night opposing a North Carolina House bill that would change the regulations regarding charter school funding.

House Bill 219, also known as Charter School Omnibus, would “create unequal rather than equal local funding for K-12 education,” according to a copy of the draft resolution shared with the SNAP, by narrowing the scope of funding sources local districts could withhold from charter schools.

Several other school boards, including Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Burke County, and Chatham County, have already signaled resistance to the bill.

Stanly County school board members were first introduced to the resolution during a work session last week.

Critics of HB 219 contend it would unfairly advantage charter schools by forcing districts to share funding from sources including appropriated fund balance, federal reimbursements, Pre-K classroom funds, sales tax refunds, indirect costs and tuition and fees for actual costs.

Charter schools can already apply for many of these funds and can keep 100% of their revenue from these sources. So by then receiving money from the school districts for the same funds, “it is essentially double dipping,” Superintendent Dr. Jarrod Dennis said in an interview Monday morning.

He said he “was surprised but not blindsided” when he first heard about the bill, which was introduced in late February.

“I’ve seen bills in the past where charter schools have wanted a chunk of capital money, but I have never seen bills that wanted all of this,” he said.

Some monies that Stanly County Schools receives, such as Pre-K classroom funds, should not be shared with charter schools because many do not even provide similar programs, Dennis said.

“Why are you going to take money from programs that you don’t even offer?” he said. “Is that fair? Because now I have to make up that deficit.”

Dennis emphasized he does not oppose funding for charter schools, he just does not like hurting public schools to do so.

“It comes to a point to where if I’m doing something and you’re not it, why are you taking my money for what I’m trying to do,” he said.

If passed into law, the total financial impact of HB 219 to Stanly County Schools in lost K-12 operating funds based on fiscal year 2022-2023 would be “substantial,” per the resolution.

Several superintendents across the state, including Dennis, are heading to Raleigh on April 18 to meet with a group of House legislators on the K-12 Education committee, including Rep. John Torbett (R-Gaston), who introduced HB 219.

Underscoring the importance of the resolution, the school board invited Rep. Wayne Sasser, State Sen. Carl Ford and Stanly County Commission Chairman Scott Efird to attend Tuesday’s school board meeting.

Roughly 8,600 K-12 children in Stanly County attend public schools while only around 400 children go to charter schools, according to Dennis.

There were 204 charter schools across North Carolina serving 130,485 students in North Carolina as of October 2021, according to Public Schools First NC. Approximately 8% of the state’s 1.55 million school children attend charter schools.