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NC Senate Advances Local Charter School Bill

North Carolina legislative building
Wikimedia Commons

The state Senate on Thursday debated a controversial bill to allow four local governments to create their own charter schools. The bill applies to the towns of Cornelius, Matthews, Huntersville and Mint Hill - and as a local bill is not subject to veto.

The legislation allows these predominantly white, affluent towns to split from the majority-black Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system and carve out their own charter schools that favors children in their communities.

Related: Four NC Towns Could Run Their Own Charter Schools

For these reasons, Senator and Mecklenburg Democrat Joyce Waddell called it a bad bill.

"Because the bill adds zero to the promise of public education, primarily guaranteeing higher tax-payer burdens," she said during floor debate.

Under the legislation, the municipalities would fund these charters with local taxes.

Critics say it sets a bad precedent for the rest of the state.

Proponents, like GOP Senator Ralph Hise, say it gives local communities more educational choices.

"Municipalities all over will have the option," Hise said, "or, in this case, these four will have the option of starting a school. They still have the option of going the traditional route and creating a non-profit to do the exact same thing."

The bill passed a preliminary vote 30 to  20 with five Republicans voting against it. A final vote is scheduled for Monday and then the legislation would go to the House.

Rusty Jacobs is a politics reporter for WUNC.
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