Charter school leaders vow to fight closing

Posted February 6, 2014 11:02 p.m. EST
Updated February 6, 2014 11:12 p.m. EST

— Jane Miller has every intention to keep Pace Academy’s doors open, but the state Board of Education has other plans.

The body unanimously voted Thursday not to renew the Carrboro public charter school’s charter.

State officials cited multiple problems, including governance and finances, behind their decision.

Miller, who co-founded the school 10 years ago, said fixes are now in place but understands why officials voted to close the school.

“Directly related to testing and the performance of students,” she said.

She pointed out that more than half of the school’s 157 students have special needs.

“They have a diagnosis of autism, with associated challenges, or they are learning disabled,” Miller said.

Those students are part of the reason why the school was created, said Miller, who added they are being compared to their peers in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.

“That school district has the highest performance in the entire state,” she said.

The unfair comparison, Miller said, is why Pace's leaders will appeal the board’s decision.

“I agree, standards are important, but there has to be, there must be a consideration for students not able to meet that bar,” she said.

Pace is one of 127 public charter schools currently operating in North Carolina.

The state Board of Education approved more than 20 public charters last month, including five in Wake County. Harnett and Halifax counties will get their first public charters. Other charters will open in Durham, Orange, Wilson, Wayne and Cumberland counties.

Critics say public charters take funding and some of the best students from traditional public schools while advocates point out they have to do more with less.

Charters do not receive funding for buildings and do not receive state lottery money.