There's an interesting give and take going on between those who run charter schools and our public school educators.
Both presumably have the same goal, improving our education system. Public schools use the tax dollars we give them as citizens. But charter schools are also in the business of making money.
So, it's intriguing what's taking place right now in New Hanover County. There's an old abandoned high school near downtown Wilmington that the school board has long since declared too expensive to fix.
A private charter wants to lease it to fix it up and run it as a charter school. But the private group says the school board is requesting too steep a price for that lease. They say it's not fair.
This is an interesting dilemma for our school board. I understand their hesitance. Legally they have to play ball with charters. But they are also trying to protect their territory.
I think ultimately the school board needs to come up with a fair price for the school. Competition works in the business world and it should work in our educational system as well.
That's my turn. Now it's your turn. To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at email@example.com.
Emailed comments from viewers:
Thank you for highlighting the subject of the abandoned Lakeside
It is unfortunate that you could not have titled your piece
"Charter Schools AND Public Schools" instead of having to use the "versus" as
is the case. And for readers who may not follow the topic, charter
schools are public schools authorized to nonprofit corporations by the State
Board of Education. Public charter schools are tuition-free and must
admit every child who applies.
Regarding Lakeside, the sole consideration should be the best
interest of the children whom we are all trying to educate; and we should be
cooperating, not negotiating.
One clarification to your piece is needed for the statement, "But
charter schools are also in the business of making money."
In fact under the North Carolina charter law, public
charters are issued only to nonprofit corporations with volunteer boards.
Under the law, their sole financial goal is to operate the school in an
economically sound manner and to ensure that the children attending the public
charter school are being treated equitably under the law and not as
All schools, whether district or charter, must obtain goods and
services from the open market. McGraw-Hill, Pearson, Microsoft, Apple,
Dell, IBM, Xerox, Staples, the contractors, architects, food service companies,
management companies, developers, banks, insurance companies, furniture
companies, CPA firms, and law firms are a few examples of vendors who compete
for the business of the schools and seek to earn profits by providing superior
quality at the lowest cost to the schools. But the boards of nonprofit
charter schools are free to choose their vendors from the open market to
optimize the price/performance trade-off. Choosing facilities is no
exception as recognized by the charter law.
The charter law states that local boards are required to lease
empty facilities to charter schools under the terms requested by the charter
school "unless the board demonstrates that the lease is not economically or
practically feasible." To date, the board has not demonstrated to Douglass
Academy that its request of $1 per year is not economically or practically
feasible. Nor have they explained why they offered the empty Virgo
facility free of charge to Virgo Charter School yet persist in seeking to
charge Douglass Academy students for the empty Lakeside facility.
Additionally in the case of Virgo, the board was to pay for extensive
renovation while Douglass has offered to pay to renovate Lakeside.
The taxpayers have paid once for Lakeside, and the taxpayers and
their children now own it. They should not have to pay twice.
Thank you again for bringing this issue to the attention of your
viewers. I would be happy to visit with you and discuss this or any other
charter topic at your convenience.
Baker Mitchell, Trustee
Charter Day School/Douglass Academy
How can the school board justify using more taxpayer money for an albatross that's already paid for but they don't use? They should dump it and their petty pride and let someone else benefit.
I've heard twice now
your comments on the charter school issue currently being discussed in
Wilmington. I'm still not sure what your point is, though, because both
times I have been distracted early in your comments by your claim that
"...charter schools are in the business of making money."
You don't say "some
charter schools," but make the statement that implies making money is part
of the definition of a charter school. I don';t believe this is
true. My granddaughter has recently been introduced to the idea of
charter schools in the Fulton County School District in Georgia. There
they make the point that the funding for charter schools will continue to come
from the public funds for schools, but being a charter school makes it possible
for the school to get a waiver from certain state requirements or
regulations. Is this different in North Carolina?
I also understand that
there are commercial companies that will assist in developing and
operating a charter school and I can understand that they would do this for a
profit, and the funds must come from public funds. But are there other
sources of funds for charter schools?
I ask you to notify me if I am wrong in my thinking and explain where I am wrong. If am right, maybe you should use your next opportunity to explain your misstatement on the air.
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