NC Governor Knocks Virtual School Growth Plans
- By Dian Schaffhauser
North Carolina is getting restive about virtual charter schools. Recently, Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed Senate Bill 392, which, among other stipulations, would have removed caps on enrollment at two virtual charters in the state and allowed the State Board of Education to approve student enrollment growth higher than the current 20 percent per year allowed.
At the same time, 220 teachers at a third virtual school reckoned with a temporary layoff of almost a quarter of its teaching crew.
In his veto, Cooper noted that current law already allowed the state board to lift the enrollment cap on virtual charters.
The legislation would have applied specifically to North Carolina Virtual Academy. Earlier this year, the academy had asked the state board to "abandon its operator, K12, and run day-to-day operations on its own," as local reporting explained. That approval was given.
Another charter that might have benefited, North Carolina Cyber Academy, is currently unaffected by the proposed law or the veto because the state's Charter School Advisory Board is monitoring its progress due to poor outcomes. Until the school is out from under monitoring status, it would need state board approval to raise enrollment.
Both academies have received "D" grades from the state in their performance for 2016, 2017 and 2018.
The North Carolina Virtual Public School, a different school altogether, has lost teachers who taught during the summer; they won't be allowed to teach during the fall semester to satisfy state laws regarding temporary employees. The high school assured families that the "employment issue" wouldn't affect the ability for their students to get into the classes they needed. During the 2018-2019 school year, NC Virtual had 32,000 students enrolled, many taking courses unavailable in their local schools. Before the layoff, the school employed 800 teachers.
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.