School leaders review charter figures, lost funds

By Chase Jordan -
Register -
Britt -

As 2017 coming to a close, Sampson County Schools is expected to lose a chunk of money due to 10 students who decided to seek their education at other places.

But school officials are optimistic about the low amount of students who picked charter or virtual school alternatives over a public education.

Stephen Britt, SCS finance officer, recently presented the fourth budget amendment, which brought about discussion regarding enrollment. One of the changes was the reduction of about $50,000 in state funding due to charter school students.

“This was expected,” Britt said while referring to money associated with average daily enrollment and other services for students. “We had 10 charter school students that live within the county in virtual and onsite charter schools.”

Charter schools are authorized by the State Board of Education, with operations being handled by an independent non-profit board of directors. The schools receive local and state dollars to function. Education at a virtual charter is like a brick and mortar building, with the exception of courses being online.

Several board members made comments regarding the matter. It was noted that Sampson County does not have charter schools.

“But we do have some students that goes across line to brick and mortar schools,” said Board Chair Timothy Register said.

Board member Telfair Simpson and other members expressed their feelings about funding going outside the county boundaries, while trying to understand the process.

“A lot of people don’t understand that in North Carolina, local school systems is the ones that actually funds the charter schools,” Britt said while explaining the process.

Register said it’s important for his colleagues to understand the impact that charter schools are going to have directly on the district.

“I would encourage you to do a little bit of research on some of our neighboring county brick and charter schools, who’ve recently been in the news that receiving upward to half a million dollars in money from public schools to operate their schools, with absolutely no accountability at all … none,” Register said.

He continued and said that a lot of people online refer to them as “K-12 daycare.”

“It’s time, I believe, for the legislature and the people of North Carolina realize the failed path that we’re on with charter schools,” Register said.

Simpson added that a lot of the charter institutions are treated as athletic schools.

“It’s what some of them are designed for, strictly athletics,” Simpson added.

Following an approved budget amendment, the total revenue and expenditures is now $81.18 million. Sources of income come from the state ($54 million), local expenses ($11.41 million), federal funding ($6 million), capital outlay ($3.81 million) and child nutrition ($5.85 million). The funds are used to educate more than 8,000 students, which comes with tedious tracking task for funding. He said some school districts have have hundreds of students attending charter or virtual schools.

Despite losing funds, Board Vice Chair Kim Schmidlin expressed optimism about the low number of students and not having a charter school in Sampson County. She feels that it’s a result of having a good district with great outcome.

“There’s other counties where the public school system is not producing good results and that’s where you see a lot of these charter schools,” Schmidlin said.

Board member Mary Brown agreed.

“If we can keep this momentum going of quality education, with quality teaching and supervising, then I know that we’ll continue to do a great job,” Brown said.



By Chase Jordan

Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.