The Dare County Democratic Party Executive Committee unanimously passed a resolution calling for the Dare County Board of Commissioners and the Dare County Board of Education to publicly oppose both SB 406 and HB 823, known as “The Choose Your School, Choose Your Future” legislation.
The resolution is in response to both houses of the North Carolina General Assembly advancing these bills. The legislation would greatly increase issuance of tax-funded vouchers paid to private schools known as the “Opportunity Scholarship Grant Program.” The funds will be taken from the state education budget. The Office of State Budget and Analysis and the Office of Governor Roy Cooper estimate that the immediate FY 2024-25 decrease in state funding to Dare County Schools will be close to $300,000.
Tax-funded vouchers are issued regardless of parental income to any student attending any private school. Private schools are subject to minimal state regulation and are not held to the same standards that public schools must meet. They operate outside of the authority of the local and state school boards and there is no requirement that their management be located in-state. The state does not regulate teacher qualifications or compensation, or require standardized testing, measurement, or reporting of student achievement. Students with special educational needs may be excluded from private schools. Private schools in North Carolina are not required to provide student transportation or meals. There are no state guidelines for curriculum or course offerings. On-site inspections of the school facility are not required and there are no provisions for monitoring. Days and hours of operation are not prescribed, and there is no requirement of state certification or approval. The use of voucher funds is at the discretion of the school.
Governor Roy Cooper recently stated:
We should not use taxpayer money to send children of millionaires to private schools. Stop private school vouchers with no income limits. It will rob public schools of needed funding and sanctions discrimination. Instead, use public money for public schools. Tell your legislators to oppose Senate Bill 406 and House Bill 823.
Public Education Crisis, sec. 2. https://governor.nc.gov/public-education-crisis
If the legislation is passed, Dare County Schools will suffer immediate and continuing budget shortfalls estimated at $300,000.00 in the first year alone. This shortfall would likely have a negative effect on class size, programming and the ability to hire qualified teachers and other personnel. The county will need to increase its budget allocations made to Dare County Schools from the Dare County Board of Commissioners in order to maintain current educational standards.
The enactment of legislation expanding the issuance of tax-funded private school vouchers will undermine public school education in Dare County and in North Carolina.
The resolution will be presented to the Dare County Board of Education tonight at its 7:00 regular meeting. The resolution will be presented to the Board of Commissioners at its next regularly scheduled meeting.