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CorneliusNews.net: Appeals Court Says Charter Schools Aren't Owed Capital Funds

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Should taxpayers help pay for buildings, school buses and other capital expenses at charter schools? The N.C. Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that state law does not require public school districts to share capital funds with charter schools. The ruling came in a 2009 lawsuit filed on behalf of Sugar Creek Charter School in Charlotte and other charter schools, parents and students. The appeals court affirmed a lower-court ruling that had rejected the schools' claim that they are entitled to receive capital funds from the counties where they're located. The charter schools had argued that "they receive disparate and discriminatory treatment" in North Carolina from state and local governments and that they were "being denied the opportunity to receive from counties or local school administrative units capital funding freely granted to traditional public schools." The court said state law says charter schools are entitled to share school districts' "current expense" and "administrative" funding only, but does not entitle them to same capital funding as public schools. If charter schools want to change the system, the court suggested, they will have to seek new legislation to change the state charter school rules. The ruling avoided a potential serious blow to public schools, coming as the state prepares to expand the number of charter schools. The state legislature earlier this year lifted a statewide cap of 100 charter schools. A flurry of new charter schools could have put a big strain on already tight local school budgets. RELATED LINKS Aug. 2, 2011, text of the N.C. Appeals Court ruling in Sugar Creek Charter School Inc. vs. State of North Carolina (PDF)