Vance County school board joins lawsuit

Jan. 13, 2014 @ 10:13 PM

The Vance County Board of Education has joined the list of plaintiffs who represent a statewide coalition against using public funds for private school tuition.

The board voted unanimously at its meeting Monday night to join 25 plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Scholarship Opportunity Program, which will provide scholarship grants of up to $4,200 per year to eligible students to attend nonpublic schools in 2014-2015. Other school boards across the state are also considering joining the measure, and others joined Monday as well.

The lawsuit is also sponsored by N.C. Association of Educators and the N.C. Justice Center.

Superintendent Ronald Gregory said he recommended the board vote to join the lawsuit because it expressed the central idea that public money should not be taken for private schools.

Chairwoman Gloria White was also supportive of the resolution, adding that it will not cost the board anything to participate.

N.C. School Board Association’s Legal Assistance Fund will cover the litigation costs.

The program was established as a provision of the 2013-2015 state budget bill and was passed by the General Assembly in July 2013.

The legislation allocates $40 for the 2014-2015 fiscal year and $50 million for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

To be eligible, students must reside in households with incomes no greater than 133 percent of the amount that qualifies for free or reduced lunches.

The groups in favor of the new law argue that it affords low-income families greater choice when it comes to their child’s education.

Applications for the program will become available through the State Education Assistance Authority starting Feb. 1.

In other business:

• Principals and staff from Yancey, Rollins and New Hope elementary schools presented the school board with information related to the curriculum, reading assessments and specialized programs targeted to raising student achievement levels.

• The art club at Aycock Elementary School presented the school board members each with a set of ceramic coasters in honor of School Board Appreciation Month during January.

• The board voted to approve revisions to the proposed Transition Academy, which is a new minimum credit diploma program for at risk high school seniors and juniors in Vance County Schools. The program was created to increase the district’s graduation rate, which at 64.9 percent is the lowest of all 115 school districts in North Carolina.

 

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.