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  • Summary date: Mar 14 2013 - View Summary

    Enacts new GS 115C-238.29A1 creating the 11 member North Carolina Public Charter Schools Board (Charter Board), located in the Department of Public Instruction but exercising its powers and duties independently of the State Board of Education and Department of Public Instruction. Includes the State Superintendent of Public Instruction as a secretary and nonvoting member. States the Charter Board's purpose as authorizing and overseeing high-quality public charter schools throughout the state and to exercise authority for approving charter applicants (was, final approval by the State Board of Education). Sets out membership qualifications, terms of office, filling of vacancies, meeting times and provides for officers and removal of members. Sets the Office of Charter Schools as the principal administrative unit under the direction of the Charter Board. Establishes the Charter Board's duties, including overseeing the process for accepting and approving applications for charters and overseeing the process for monitoring the operation of charter schools. Gives the State Board of Education veto power over any action adopted by vote of the Charter Board if the State Board's veto is taken within 45 days of the date of the Charter Board's vote to adopt the action.

    Current law provides that any person, group of persons, or nonprofit corporation may submit an application to a chartering entity, which may be a (1) local board of education, (2) the board of trustees of a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina, or (3) the State Board of Education. Current law also provides that regardless of which chartering entity receives the application, the State Board of Education (SBOE) has final approval of the charter school.  This act amends GS 115C-238.29B to (1) make the Charter Board created in this act the only chartering entity; (2) provide that only a nonprofit corporation may seek to establish a charter school; (3) require that the application for a charter school include the names of the initial (was, proposed initial) members of the board of director's of the nonprofit applicant; (4) delete the SBOE final approval authority and (5) authorize the Charter Board to establish and collect reasonable fees for initial and renewal charter application in accordance with GS Chapter 150B, Article 2A. Provides that the funds are to be placed in the "Charter Application Fund" and used by the Charter Board for administration of this Part. Prohibits the refunding of an application fee if the application is rejected or the charter is revoked.

    Makes a conforming change, repealing GS 115C-238.29C (Preliminary approval of applications for charter schools). Makes multiple conforming changes in GS Chapter 115C to charter school provisions, replacing the State Board of Education as the final authority on charter schools with the Charter Board created in this act.

    Amends GS GS 115C-238.29D to encourage the Charter Board to give preference in reviewing charter applications to applications that demonstrate the ability to provide comprehensive learning experiences to students identified by the applicants as at risk of academic failure. Deletes provision that under current law permits a local board of education in the administrative unit (LEA) where the charter school is located to be heard by the State Board of Education as to any adverse impact the proposed growth of a charter school would have on the LEA's ability to provide a sound basic education to its students.

    Amends GS 115C-238.29E to require that at the request of the charter school, a local board of education in the LEA where the charter school will be located, must lease any available land or building to the charter school for $1.00 per year unless the board demonstrates that such a lease is not economically or practically feasible, or the board has inadequate classroom space to meet its enrollment needs. Provides that if the local board leases the facility to a charter school for $1.00 per year, the charter school is responsible for maintenance and insurance for the school facility.

    Amends GS 115C-238.29F regarding the instructional program for a charter school to clarify that the charter school must comply with Article 9 (Education of Children with Disabilities) of GS Chapter 115C and the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA), 20 USC § 1400, et. seq., (2004) as amended. Deletes requirements specifying that a certain percentage of teachers at specified grade level ranges hold teacher certificates and that all teachers in core subjects from grades six through 12 be college graduates. Directs each charter school board of directors to adopt a policy on whether and under what circumstances to require a criminal history check for an applicant for employment. Requires that the policy adopted be employed uniformly by the board of directors. Allows for conditional hiring while a criminal history check is completed. Requires a charter school to comply with the reporting requirements of the State Board and to also provide the reports to the Charter Board. Amends admission requirements to require that within one year after beginning operations, the population of the school shall make efforts to (was, shall) to reasonably reflect specified racial and ethnic compositions. Also removes limitation on priority shown to siblings to birth siblings. Requires that net assets of the charter school purchased with public funds be deemed the property of the state and that assets must be returned to the General Fund upon the dissolution of a charter school or nonrenewal of a charter.

    Amends GS 115C-238.29G to allow the Charter Board to terminate, not renew, or seek applications to assume the charter through a competitive bid process established by the Charter Board (was, may terminate or not renew a charter) on any of the six specified grounds. Authorizes the Charter Board to terminate, not renew, or seek applicants to assume the charter through a competitive bid process if a charter school is inadequate and has had a charter for more than five years. Requires the Charter Board to create rules on the assumption of a charter school by a new entity and provides that public assets would transfer to the new entity.

    Amends GS 115C-238.29H to require that the per pupil share of the local current expense fund be transferred to the charter school within 30 days of receiving the money into the local current expense fund. Requires the local school administrative until to also provide each charter school to which it is transferring a per pupil share all of the following information: (1) total amount of funds the unit has in each of the specified funds; (2) the student membership used to calculate the per pupil share, and (3) how the per pupil shares were calculated. Requires the court to award attorney's fees and costs, plus interest, to the prevailing party in an action to enforce the transfer of funds. Also require the court to order any delinquent funds, cots, fees and interest to be paid in full within three years. Applies to any final judgment entered after the act becomes effective.

    Amends GS 115C-238.29I to require that the report on the effectiveness of charter schools and the effect on public schools to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee be submitted each year by January 1 (was, on January 2, 2002). Deletes the authority to establish a Charter School Advisory Committee.

    Repeals GS 115C-238.29J (public and private assistance to charter schools) and GS 115C-238.29K (criminal history checks).

    Amends GS 115C-426(c) to remove special programs from the items that funds other than the State Public School Fund, the local current expense fund, and the capital outlay fund. may be used to account for.

    Amends GS 115C-448 to prohibit special funds of individual schools from being included as a part of the local current expense fund of a local school administrative unit for determining the per pupil share of the local current expense fund transferred to a charter school.

    Amends GS 105-278.4 to provide that buildings and the land they occupy, and additional land necessary for the use of the building are exempted from taxation if the building is wholly and exclusively used for educational purposes by (1) the owner, (2) a nonprofit education institution occupying the building gratuitously, or (3) a charter school even if the school is not the building owner.

    Requires that initial appointments to the Charter Board be made by the Governor and the General Assembly by April 1, 2013. Sets out the terms of the initial members.