Funds for ‘Oppurtunity Scholarships’ in NC going unused, ‘collecting dust’ officials say
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Government Relations Coordinator Charles Jeter says school leaders having been taking a deeper look at how your taxpayer dollars are being spent for students across the state.
“Last year they allocated $44.84 million of taxpayer money but they only spent $28 million,” says Jeter. “We think that’s a misuse of funds.”
Jeter is talking about the Opportunity Scholarship program for North Carolina - Kindergarten through 12 students.
“You could have children from low income households use that as basically a credit, a scholarship to go to private education,” says Jeter.
Through the program, eligible students can get up to $4,200 a year, if they attend certain non-public schools.
“To me its not necessarily necessary because they’re just providing the same services that private schools already provide," said one parent, we asked about the issue.
“State law currently requires the general assembly to add 10 million dollars every year in funding,” says Jeter.
That means each year taxpayers shell out millions to fund this scholarship program.
“I’m all for scholarships in public schools," said another parent.
But officials say CMS students don’t have the option to receive those scholarship funds since they’re a public school system.
“This fiscal year they’ve allocated 54 million dollars for a program that as of January 1st had only spent 19 million,” says Jeter.
Jeter says when you take a look at the funds, nearly 60 percent of the money for the program isn't being spent each year… so what's happening to that left over money?
“What happens with that 20 million dollars of left over funds that’s not spent is its not used for anything else,” says Jeter.
When Jeter says that money could be used towards more important things—like hiring more school counselors or resource officers.
“If its not being used then yeah I would see the benefit of using it somewhere else within schools," said another parent.
“We’re just allowing money to sit in a bank account collecting dust," says Jeter.
Jeter says CMS isn’t asking to stop the program but instead they are asking the NC General Assembly to freeze the current $54 million.
WBTV reached out to the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority, who handles the Opportunity Scholarship program; we have not heard back yet.
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