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Bill would let NC charter schools admit out-of-state students


The state’s House Education Committee Tuesday approved a bill that would allow North Carolina’s charter schools to admit out-of-state and foreign exchange students.

House Bill 531 would allow charter schools to charge them tuition to cover their costs. They could be admitted only if they do not displace in-state students.

Some members of the education committee seemed surprised to hear that traditional public schools can already do that. And some worried those students would be subsidized by taxpayers.

“Do you know how much we, the taxpayers of North Carolina, would be putting into having students coming across state lines to attend charter schools?” asked Rep. Diane Wheatley, a Cumberland County Republican.

The answer: Zero, according to Rep. Sarah Stevens, a Republican who’s the lead sponsor.

Stevens said cross-state admissions are mostly an issue for counties near state borders — such as the Charlotte region in the southern part of the state and Mount Airy, where she lives, in the north. Neither charter schools nor traditional public schools have to provide transportation for out-of-state students.

The bill won voice vote approval. It would need the support of the full House and Senate to become law.

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Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.