When Rep. Bill Brawley of Mecklenberg County first championed HB 514, he promoted a bill that allows for cities to use property tax money to fund local schools. It also allows for some select cities and towns to establish their own charter schools with enrollment preference for their citizens using taxpayer money. And because it was a local bill, it did not require the governor’s approval; therefore, Gov. Cooper could not issue a veto.
To many public school advocates, this “Municipal Charter School” bill is beyond egregious and potentially sets North Carolina back decades as far as treating all people equally. It exacerbates an already fractious situation that has endured gerrymandering (which is making its way to the Supreme Court), a Voter ID law, cowering to big industry instead of protecting the environment, and giving massive tax cuts to corporations that hurt public services.
There are a plethora of ill-fated consequences that can manifest themselves quickly because of this bill. The first three would be felt all over the state. The fourth would only be seen in Charlotte-Mecklenberg Schools as it was originally a local bill.
- It could raise everyone’s property taxes in the state. Whatever the state now mandates for public schools and does not choose to specifically fund can now be passed on to local school systems.
- It potentially weakens every public school system in the state whether or not it currently has a charter school. Now charter schools can ask the local district for funds to finance anything from custodians to benefits for charter school teachers.
- It will probably cause a rise in charter school applications and eventually lead to more charter schools in the state. And the more charter schools there are, the more it hurts traditional public schools which still service the overwhelming majority of students in the state.
- But most importantly, it would be allowing for the systemic re-segregation of student populations in the Charlotte-Mecklenberg School System under the auspicious call for “school choice.”
But now that fourth consequence can now be felt in every county in the state.
Today, December 13, 2018, during a special session of the North Carolina General Assembly to supposedly iron-out details for the new Voter ID amendment, a Technical Corrections Bill called SB 469 removes the provision for the original HB 514 that stipulated its “local bill” status. The ramifications of that are enormous.
The Charlotte-Mecklenberg School system, who vigorously fought against the original bill, posted the following Legislative Alert:
What this means is that HB 514 may no longer be a local bill that only affects one of 100 counties in North Carolina. It allows for HB 514 to be a statewide mandate. The use of property taxes for local municipal charter schools would now be available to all counties. The implications are now even more far-reaching when looking at how student populations could now be even more segregated all over the state.
The four municipalities targeted in the original are fairly affluent populations that are majority white. They are Mint Hill, Matthews, Cornelius, and Huntersville. These municipalities could already create their own charter schools for their own citizens using county property tax revenues.
But every municipality in the state will have this power if SB 469 passes. The North Carolina General Assembly still has a super-majority until January as the recent elections saw dramatic gains for democrats that take away veto-proof powers in the NCGA.
Ironically, one of the GOP incumbents who lost his re-election bid was Bill Brawley, the man who championed the original HB 514, a bill that now has the potential to re-segregate many student populations around the state while allowing for unregulated charter schools to take more resources away from traditional public schools.