StarNews Editorial: Charter schools need to tell taxpayers what they’re getting for their money
THE FOLLOWING IS AN EDITORIAL FROM STARNEWSONLINE.COM: Charter schools are here to stay in North Carolina, at least for the foreseeable future. As their numbers increase, however, the ability of the taxpayers to keep track of just how their money is spent is shrinking. That should worry residents who wouldn't tolerate the same secrecy from their school district or local government.
When the Charlotte Observer tried to get teacher salaries for its region's charter schools, it was told those records aren't public. State officials are interpreting the laws that created independent charter schools to exempt them from the same level of financial scrutiny as the traditional public schools – even though millions of taxpayer dollars are siphoned from the public schools to charter schools annually.
They and charter operators say there's not need to increase accountability requirements and take the position that those schools are exempt from many aspects of the state's public records and open meetings laws. Baker Mitchell, whose Roger Bacon Academy operates charter schools in New Hanover, Brunswick and Columbus counties, is also president of the N.C. Alliance for Public Charter schools and a member of the state's Charter School Advisory board. He told the Charlotte Observer that the annual audit required, which is public information, should suffice.
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