charter buses

State lawmakers have tweaked legislation that would lift the cap on the number of charter schools allowed, but opponents remain wary.

Backers of Senate Bill 8 say it would increase educational opportunities for children since charter schools are intended to provide innovative learning options, free from many of the regulations that apply to traditional public schools.

“We need to provide more options under the public education umbrella,” Darrell Allison, president of Parents for Educational Reform in North Carolina, said. “Far too many families in our state and far too many families in Rowan-Salisbury have only one option.”

There are currently 99 charter schools in 47 of the state’s 100 counties.

Allison, who graduated from A.L. Brown High School in Kannapolis, said the success that many of those charter schools are experiencing cannot be replicated because of the cap, and more than 20,000 students statewide are on waiting lists for charter schools.

“The vast majority of North Carolina does not have a charter school,” he said. “It’s not that public charter schools are more superior, but if we have more options than children have a better chance at getting a quality education.”

But opponents say the bill, which also seeks to clarify the current funding formula, could be detrimental to public school funding.

“I think this would pretty much be a dagger in the heart of public education,” Dr. Jim Emerson, chairman of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education, said.

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