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Gov. Cooper Vetoes Bill That Would Allow Charter Schools to Receive Taxpayer Money for Construction, Renovations

Source: WRAL

In late July, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a right-wing bill that sought to allow massive changes to the state’s charter school system, WRAL reported. Republicans will more than likely attempt to override his veto.

According to WRAL, House Bill 219, also known as the “Charter Schools Omnibus,” would take away a limit on enrollment growth at low-performing charter schools and allow them to automatically add enrollment and grade levels over time without approval from the state.

The bill would also allow charter schools to give preference to students from certain preschools. The current law requires charter schools to determine admission by a lottery system, not by the preference of the school. The legislation would also let charter schools enroll and charge tuition for out-of-state and foreign exchange students.

Perhaps the biggest change HB 219 would make is that it would allow charter schools to ask for and receive taxpayer money for expenses such as construction, renovation or building purchases.

Current law states that charter schools must secure and finance their own buildings. State and local taxes cover the operating costs of charter schools but don’t currently cover other expenses like construction.

Counties would also be given the green light to raise taxes in order to generate the necessary funds for improvements to these charter schools.

Republicans in support of the bill claim that the legislation will “even the playing field” between charter schools and traditional public schools, which are already fully taxpayer-funded.

Cooper and fellow Democrats oppose the bill because the Republican-controlled legislature already does a poor enough job funding traditional public schools – despite having more than enough money to adequately do so – and taking more of that money and giving it to charter schools will only exacerbate the problems our public schools are facing.

“This bill allowing more students to attend failing charter schools risks their education and their future,” Cooper said the day he vetoed HB 219. “Diverting local resources to build charter schools without clear authority on who owns them risks financial loss to county taxpayers who have no recourse.”

House Bill 219 passed both chambers with full Republican support and at least one Democratic vote, WRAL reported. It’s likely that lawmakers will override the governor’s veto when they return from their extended vacation on Aug. 7. 

Five other vetoes by Cooper remain eligible for override. Cooper has vetoed 14 pieces of legislation so far this session and Republicans have overridden all eight of those that have been voted on so far.

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