WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Gov. Pat McCrory this summer demanded transparency for the way charter schools spend public money. A bill he signed today guarantees public access to some of that information, but lets companies that run the schools keep private other information about their spending.
“I am pleased the legislature responded to my concerns and required full transparency for the names and salaries of all charter school teachers and employees,” McCrory said in a news release today announcing the bill’s signing.
While Senate Bill 793 requires charter schools and their school boards adhere to North Carolina’s public records and meeting laws, it does not include provisions to require the private companies that run the schools to release to the public all information about how they spend taxpayer money, including the salaries of top administrators.
McCrory’s statement on the bill seems to indicate, though, he is pushing state regulators to assure some level of accountability from charter school companies.
“I have also asked Chairman Bill Cobey and members of our State Board of Education to ensure that contracts with private entities also provide transparency on salaries and other personnel information,” McCrory said. “Consistent with the State Board of Education’s authority to oversee the successful operations of public charter schools, Chairman Cobey has assured me that he will direct agency staff to collect information from charter schools, including all financial and personnel records, necessary to achieve that goal.”
Earlier this summer McCrory threatened to veto the bill if it included language that would make the salary data of employees private. That was eventually pulled from the bill.
Several area media outlets, including WWAY, have submitted requests to Baker Mitchell’s Brunswick County-based Roger Bacon Academy and Charter Day School Inc., which run four charters schools in southeastern North Carolina, asking for administrator salaries. Monday, Sawyer Batten, RBA’s Public Information Officer, denied our most recent request by claiming state public record laws are not applicable to RBA, and thus the company is not required to release any information. The company claims the school administrators, despite their clear roles within the schools, do not work for the school, but for the private company.
McCrory spokesman Ryan Tronovitch has not answered how the governor plans to enforce any NC School Board directives for transparency from charter school companies or whether that information would include administrator salaries.