The N.C. House of Representatives postponed voting on a bill Tuesday which would channel more funds traditionally allocated for public schools to charter schools until its 2016 short session convenes on April 25.
Elkin City Schools officials have been very vocal about their concerns the bill would hurt traditional public schools.
The N.C. Senate voted 25-19 Monday to approve the bill, with Sen. Shirley Randleman voting against it. Randleman, who represents Surry, Yadkin and Stokes counties in the Senate, said she voted no “because of uncertainties in the bill and what appeared to be unanswered questions.”
Dr. Randy Bledsoe, superintendent of the Elkin City Schools, said he was pleased the House did not proceed with the vote. “Our efforts to inform our staff and our community about the inequities of this legislation was due cause for it not to move ahead at this time,” he said.
Bledsoe said he hopes House members will give the bill more thought and consideration in next year’s short session. He has talked with Randleman and Rep. Sarah Stephens and thanked them for listening to the concerns of Elkin City Schools’ officials.
Stephens, who was expected to vote for the bill, said in an earlier story the proposed legislation would not take anything away from public schools and pointed out that charter schools are also public schools. “We don’t send any funds to private schools at this time,” she said.
Randleman, who represents Surry, Yadkin and Stokes counties in the Senate, said in an earlier article she voted against it “because of uncertainties in the bill and what appeared to be unanswered questions.”
“Several House and Senate members had been working on the bill for some time,” she said, “and I’m not sure if those discussions were reflected in the version which was brought before the Senate.”
Bledsoe said the vote was not about legislators supporting or not supporting charter schools. “The vote was that there were specific parts of the legislation that should not have passed because it hurt traditional public school funding,” he said.
Merry Armstong Lowe, the director and principal of Bridges Academy, a charter school in State Road, said she had heard from two House representatives about the delay. Rep. Jeffrey Elmore, who represents Alleghany and Wilkes counties in the House, called her. “He wanted to express that until some wording changed that he could not support the bill but that he does support our school,” she said.
“He was very supportive and said he is going to visit our school,” Lowe said, “and just wanted me to know that it was not about our school in particular, but that there was some language he could not support.”
Lowe said Stephens wrote to her, saying she was supporting the bill but it would not come up again until the short session. The only House member Lowe said she did not hear from was Rep. Lee Zachary, who represents Alexander, Wilkes and Yadkin counties in the House.
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 336-258-4058.