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Businessman Plans Chain of Private Schools

Posted August 20, 2007

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— Wake County commissioners agreed Monday to lobby state lawmakers for more charter schools after a local businessman presented his plans to open two dozen private schools in the area over the next decade.

Robert Luddy said his chain of private schools would be modeled on his popular Franklin Academy charter school in Wake Forest. He recently opened his first private school, Thales Academy, off Capital Boulevard in north Raleigh.

Class sizes at Thales Academy and his other private schools would be kept at about 20 students, and each school would have fewer than 450 students overall, Luddy said. The tuition at Thales is about $5,000 a year, but he said the price is worth paying to avoid Wake County's overcrowded and overburdened public school system.

"I think there's an incredible demand, particularly when schools are available at a reasonable expense," said Luddy, the founder and chief executive of Captive-Aire Systems Inc., which makes ventilation equipment for restaurants and commercial kitchens.

North Carolina state law limits the number of charter schools statewide to 100, but Luddy said more charter schools are needed to give parents more educational options and to create competition for public school districts.

"No system will guarantee that all kids will be geniuses, but what we can do is educate the students to their very highest potential by giving individual attention in the concept we've developed," he said.

Although he supports more choice for parents, Wake County school board member Ron Margiotta said he sees Luddy's idea of dozens of private schools as a threat to the district.

"These private schools are a concern because it's just a matter of time before they bring down the Wake County Public School System as we know it," Margiotta said.

But school board Chairwoman Rosa Gill disagreed.

"I don't see them as a threat," Gill said. "I see them as an enhancement to our program. I don't think that private schools (or) parochial schools are going to take the place of the public school system."


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  • Wheelman Aug 22, 2007

    Private schools and vouchers are not a "racial" thing. In fact, they do the exact opposite. They level the economics since the vouchers are the same regardless of income. This means that those parents who wouldn't normally be able to send their children somewhere other than public schools would have that choice. Vouchers give parents a voice in how the dollars devoted to their child's education are spent. This is why the public schools don't like them. Without vouchers the public schools don't have to worry since only so many people can afford to pay taxes and private school tuition. Vouchers mean power. Private schools are typically safer because the discipline is better. It's better because they will boot them out if they become a problem and the parents don't fix it. To those who don't like paying taxes because you don't have kids...we all pay taxes for things we don't care for or never use. A well educated population benefits everyone and the entire economy.

  • JennyT Aug 22, 2007

    Where does the line for vouchers start?

  • common_sense_plz Aug 21, 2007

    This has nothing to do with race, and it need not be brought into the picture. It is about a better, safer and a much more diciplined education for our children. Our children need stability, not to be moved around year after year, and clear across town to another community. The public school system is failing because the teachers have no support from parents, the school cannot dicipline. Parents no matter where your kids go to school, it is still your responsibility to be supportive of them and the teachers. Success begins in the home. so if you want your children to be a success, then you have to support them, and the school they go to. It is not the teachers job to raise your kids and teach them the difference between right and wrong, and give them morals....that is your job...stop failing yoru kids, no matter their age, they still need you, and want to know that you support them in a positive way.Otherwise they will end up in gangs and on drugs and alcohol.what a bright future

  • mumof3 Aug 21, 2007

    I have 2 kids that I took out of public school to enroll in Thales Academy. I couldn't be happier - my kids are getting an excellent education, the population is diverse both ethnically and socio-economically, and I finally can say that my kids are at a school that puts the emphasis on education. It was a stretch for my family economically, but it's worth it entirely. Thales is not a school merely for the privelidged, they provide tuition assistance when needed. Bob Luddy is doing a great service to education in NC. I'm not surprised the WCPSS is nervous.

  • SteamTrain Aug 21, 2007

    Correct HTSU, although diversity of some kind has been mandated by the Feds...and eventually we all end up having to go along with it. Embrace it! (kidding)

    Sthrnldy, unless your folks could afford to send you to private/parochial, your basic education was likely paid by a lot of people without kids. Otherwise your folks would have been hammered with double the taxes they actually paid. The "I dont have kids in school" argument doesn't wash.

  • mumof3 Aug 21, 2007

    I am personally sick of paying taxes for things I don't use! - sthrnldy -

    This is a completely ignorant statement - who do you think paid for your kids to go to public schools? If we were to carry that line of reasoning to a logical end, then I should get a refund for each year that I didn't have to call the police or fire department. And maybe I could get a refund for the roads I don't use. A refund on my social security would be nice too, since I doubt it will even be available to me

    Asking developers to pay for schools in the neighborhoods they are building is not going to fall on the backs of the developers, it will translate into higher home prices. The triangle is a great place to live, and we ALL benefit from the additional tax revenue, sales tax, homeowner taxes, etc. that come when you have a growing society. If you are sick of the growth, try living in a dead town like Buffalo sometime, and see how a city manages when no one wants to move there and there is no expansi

  • Greyhound_Girl Aug 21, 2007

    Sthrnldy, it's a great idea, but the children walking to school would be against the Wake County Public School System's plan to "diversify" based upon "socioeconomic" factors. So...as has happened in Cary, children living in more "affluent" neighborhoods are bused to SE Raleigh schools to "balance".

  • Sthrnldy Aug 21, 2007

    I am personally sick of paying taxes for things I don't use! Both of my children are out of school and my tax money goes toward more and more schools. Simple solution-when upscale subdivisions are built, it should include it's own school for the children that live in that subdivision. The homeowners dues or community fees should pay for this, as well as the teachers salary etc. You would not need to have a bus, children could walk. This would take alot of presure off of the Wake County School System.

  • Nancy Aug 21, 2007

    "In the event such a tax break were granted to those parents, can you imagine the infinitesimally small amount of time subsequent to that it will take for people with no kids or people whose kids are now grown to demand the same break? Trust me, if I can't get it, they won't either."

    Elcid, there are places with vouchers already that the issue of "mine" has not come to pass, so I don't think that's truly a valid argument.

  • dohicky Aug 21, 2007

    $5000 tuition is probably reasonable since teachers and buildings are expensive. It sure isn't affordable for a lot of people that would like to have their children in a place more inducive to learning. A lot of people sacrifice luxuries for their kids to a better school. None of us really sacrifice but do without 'nice stuff'.
    I am for anything people can do for themselves and their children. The govenment just cares about control - politics. Mr Margiotta is really concerned about maintaining the bureaucracy that is Wake County PS and having a position of control.
    And SteamTrain - maybe you lucked up or you just live in your own little corner of the state. Open your eyes and see what the public school systems are producing.