Local News

Charter School Admission Becoming a Matter of Luck

Posted February 12, 2007 6:16 p.m. EST
Updated February 12, 2007 7:55 p.m. EST

— Hundreds of parents in the Triangle are turning to charter schools to educate their children. These free public schools don't require any bond dollars to build, but school districts pay for children to attend them and there is a cap on how many the state allows.

Some local leaders say it would make sense now to change the rules.

So do some parents.

Juliet Connoll will be playing a lottery Tuesday, though that wouldn’t be her choice.

"I've got my fingers crossed- I've got everyone that I know crossing their fingers," she said Monday. She's not crossing her fingers with dollar signs in mind, however. She's gambling on schooling.

"We're hoping for entry... into Franklin Academy," Connoll explains.

Her daughters are two of a record 1,520 students applying for acceptance at the Franklin Academy Charter School in Wake Forest. Connell is a substitute teacher there.

Only 101 new students will be accepted to Franklin Academy next year and as charter schools become more and more popular, Wake County leaders and administrators here want to change state policy.

"With the number of applications we have, we could open up another school our size. However, the state does cap the number of charters in this state. It also caps how large we can grow each year," Franklin Administrator Denise Kent explained.

She said she supports lobbying the state Legislature to lift North Carolina's cap on charter schools. The arguments against charter schools have been that they drain local resources and that they deplete the student population in regular schools.

"By raising the cap, you're giving parents the opportunities to choose and give them a choice and help alleviate some of the overcrowding in Wake County," Kent said.

Currently, charter schools are capped at 100. There are 94 operating in North Carolina.

Soon, the state will reach the limit, and parents like Connell won't have any safe bets.