NC surpasses 200 charter schools as state board approves 10 more

Posted June 6, 2019 2:31 p.m. EDT
Updated June 6, 2019 3:02 p.m. EDT

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— The State Board of Education has approved 10 new charter schools to open during the 2020-21 school year, including three in Wake County. Thursday's vote means the state has now approved more than 200 charter schools since the program began in 1996.

Charters, which are publicly funded and privately run schools, have been booming in North Carolina with more than 109,000 students currently enrolled at 184 schools across the state. Twelve more charters will open this fall, followed by 10 the next year – putting the state's count at 206 charter schools.

Last year, the state received 35 applications. Of those, 10 were approved Thursday and two were sent back to a lower board for more review. They are as follows:

New charter schools approved to open in 2020-21 school year

  • CE Academy (Wake County)
  • Doral Academy of North Carolina (Wake County)
  • Wendell Falls Charter Academy (Wake County)
  • Alamance Community School (Alamance County)
  • Revolution Academy (Guilford County)
  • Robert J. Brown Leadership Academy (Guilford County)
  • Achievement Charter Academy (Harnett County)
  • MINA Charter School of Lee County (Lee County)
  • Wilmington School of the Arts (New Hanover County)
  • Elaine Riddick Charter (Perquimans County)

Applicants sent back to NC Charter Schools Advisory Board for more review

  • North Raleigh Charter Academy (Wake County)
  • Wake Preparatory Academy (Wake County)

The state board voted to send North Raleigh Charter and Wake Preparatory back to the Charter Schools Advisory Board for more review after receiving a lot of feedback from the public, including Wake County Public School System leaders. The charter board will review the feedback on Monday and make another recommendation to the state board about whether the two schools should open.

Wake school leaders and others should have submitted that feedback to the Charter Schools Advisory Board when the board was reviewing the charter applicants, not after, said Lt. Gov Dan Forest, who sits on the state board. By submitting feedback later, they slowed the process, he said.

"I think what you tend to see is almost stall tactics," Forest said. "We want to make sure everybody's voice is heard, but we do have a process for a reason ... I feel like we’re punishing these applicants."

While charter schools have continued to see their numbers rise, traditional public schools – which still educate the vast majority of students in North Carolina – have seen their numbers drop.

The Wake County Public School System planned to enroll 1,900 new students this school year but only grew by 42 students, or roughly two classrooms. A Wake schools' spokeswoman attributed the slowdown to fewer children being born in Wake County, the aging of the county's population and parents having more school choices, including charter schools.

The latest charter schools annual report showed charter enrollment in North Carolina has increased more than 200 percent in the past 10 years. State funding for them has grown from about $16.5 million in 1997, when there were 34 schools, to more than $580 million last school year, a 3,415% increase. Of the $8.93 billion in state funding for public education last school year, 6.5 percent was allotted to charter schools.