Good morning. I am Steven Sizemore, Chairman of the Buncombe County Board of Education. I am pleased to be here with my friends and counter-parts from the Asheville City School System, Mr. Al Whitesides and from the Haywood County Board, Chuck Francis.
First I want to recognize the entire legislative team from Buncombe County, Senator Martin Nesbitt, Senator Tom Apodaca, Representatives Susan Fisher, Patsy Keever, and Tim Moffitt for their work on behalf of the Buncombe County students and public education system. I especially want to thank Representatives Fisher, Keever and Ray Rapp from neighboring Madison County for the work they are doing on this very important legislation which could have a significantly devastating impact on the financial operations of the Buncombe County School System.
Last night at the meeting of the Buncombe County Board of Education, our Board passed a resolution in opposition to Senate Bill 8 in its present form. In doing so, each member of the Board made it clear we recognize the Charter Schools in Buncombe County and throughout the State are public schools; and, while the Board voted to endorse the Resolution opposing Senate Bill 8, we all made clear we do not oppose Charter Schools.
Our Board recognizes the Charter school system is an educational partner. Due to the legislative flexibility afforded the Charter schools in the delivery of curriculum and educational services, there are significant differences in the operations of Charter School System and the Traditional Public School System. As a result of these operational differences, the differences in the funding thereof is justified.
The Buncombe County Board of Education is elected to represent public on the Buncombe County Board of Education & to that end, to ensure we as a Board make decisions in the best interests of the students of the Buncombe County Schools. Based on the current regulatory structures imposed by the legislature, the Buncombe County Board of Education has no coordination with or oversight of the Charter Schools in Buncombe County. Therefore, the decisions of the Buncombe County Board of Education should and must be made regarding the System our Board oversees. To that end, regardless of how anyone views the benefits and burdens of Senate Bill 8, there is no question Senate Bill 8 will take money away from the students and operations of Buncombe County Public Schools.
As presently being considered, Senate Bill 8 will remove the protections of the public school systems fund balances, interest and other accounting practices established by the Legislature in 2010. It will potentially entitle the Charter schools to monies raised by booster clubs, athletic associations, and PTA/PTO’s in the traditional public schools. It will entitle the Charter schools to portions of funds designated to the traditional public schools programs such as More @ 4, Head Start, and Smart Start … programs which the Charter schools are not required to provide. It will entitle Charter Schools to a portion of funds for rental fees charged by the facilities in the traditional public schools. It will entitle the Charter schools to funds from free and reduced lunch programs required to be provided in the traditional public schools but not required to be provided in the Charter schools. It will entitle the Charter schools to a portion of the funds the traditional public school students pay for out of district school attendance and funds paid by the traditional public school students for summer and other non-traditional opportunities. It will potentially entitle the Charter schools to a portion of private gifts and contributions to the traditional public schools.
These potential funding entitlements created by Senate Bill 8 all would flow to the Charter Schools in legislation which does not require: Charter Schools to provide transportation or food services to their students; the same licensure requirements of teachers as the traditional public schools, and, does not require the same oversight and regulatory control as the traditional public school systems.
As a member of the school community, and as a member of the Buncombe County Board of Education, I applaud these legislative leaders in their efforts to do as we on the Buncombe County Board of Education must do … make decisions in the best interests of the students.