State plans to close Moore County charter school

Students, parents and teachers are rallying around the Academy of Moore County to keep it from closing at the end of the school year.

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ABERDEEN, N.C. — Students, parents and teachers are rallying around the Academy of Moore County to keep it from closing at the end of the school year.

The state Board of Education has voted against renewing the charter for the school, which has 174 students from four counties. A spokeswoman for the board said students at the school haven't made sufficient academic improvement.

As a charter school, the Academy of Moore County is allowed to operate independently from the local school district, giving school administrators and teachers more flexibility with the curriculum.

"I'm not told when I have to teach something (or) how I'm going to teach it. I get to do exactly what I learned in college," fifth-grade teacher Suzanne Dunn said. "I love it because it's a lot more individual attention to each of the children."

Still, the school receives state funding and must meet state performance standards for student achievement.

State Department of Public Instruction records show that the Academy of Moore County met state academic growth standards in the 2008-09 school year but failed to meet them in the previous four years.

The school also missed the majority of its Adequate Yearly Progress goals under the federal No Child Left Behind law in 2006-07 and 2007-08, according to DPI records. It met most AYP goals in the two years before that and met all three goals last year.

"We have struggled academically in the past, and it was a very unstable population, a lot of turnover teacher-wise," said Allyson Schoen, the school's director of education.

The school, which was founded in 1997 and serves kindergarten through the eighth grade, has stabilized recently, Schoen said. It moved into a new $2.2 million building in August 2008.

The school is taking legal action to reverse the state's decision. Schoen said the state Board of Education is ignoring the school's recent strides.

“We have adhered to the state course of studies strictly. We’ve got 100 percent highly qualified teachers in place,” she said. "We're not only meeting the students' needs academically, but socially (and) emotionally."

Jenn Councill said her fifth-grade son was failing in public school in Hoke County. At the Academy of Moore County, she said, he's on the honor roll.

"It's very family-oriented, small and quaint," said Councill, who has a daughter in first grade at the school and planned to enroll her 4-year-old in kindergarten.

"I think it's horrible," she said of the prospect the school will close.

“I can’t imagine the children going back to the public school system where they’re not making any progress,” Dunn said.



Bryan Mims, Reporter
Michael Joyner, Photographer
Matthew Burns, Web Editor

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