New charter school set to open next month

Jul. 22, 2014 @ 05:40 PM

Leaders of Durham’s 11th charter school, Reaching All Minds Academy, said Tuesday that the school is set to open Aug. 18.
The school, with its STEM-based focus, will initially serve students in grades K-3 before eventually expanding each year until it enrolls students in grades K-6.
“We’re on track to open Aug. 18,” said Annie McKoy, chairwoman of the school’s board of directors.
McKoy said the school has commitments from the parents of more than 90 students, about 50 shy of its maximum capacity.
“Recruitment is still ongoing and any parent who is interested still has time to come,” McKoy said.
She noted that veteran educator Thomas McKoy, who is her son, has been hired as the school’s leader and that the school has hired a sufficient number of teachers to serve those students who are expected to enroll.
The school will be housed at 2703 Holloway St. where the Reaching All Minds Organization has provided the Turning Kids Around Outreach-21st Century Community Learning Center afterschool program as a supplemental educational service to kindergarten through eighth-grade students at Title I schools in Durham who need assistance with reading, writing and math.
McKoy said parents have been attracted by the schools STEM-based focus, smaller classroom sizes and the promise of new and innovative ways to teaching.
“We’re offering them [students] a chance to place their minds into a higher order of thinking,” McKoy said. “They [parents] really like what we’re offering.”
Reaching All Minds Academy was one of four charter applications submitted from Durham in 2012.
Three of the four -- Antonio Academy, Excelsior Classical Academy and NC Connections Academy -- did not receive state approval to open for the 2014-15 school year.
However, Excelsior Classical and N.C. Connections, a virtual charter school, have been given preliminary approval for the 2015-16 school year along with KIPP Durham.
If all three open next year, Durham would be home to 14 charter schools.
In recent months, some members of the Durham school board have complained that the proliferation of charter schools in the county is siphoning limited local money from traditional public schools.    
The school district passes through more than $15 million in local money to the district’s existing charter schools, an amount that will grow if the three new charter schools open for the 2015-16 school year.
School officials asked for an additional $716,000 as part of its 2014-15 spending plan to offset a projected increase of more than 300 new students expected to enroll in local charter schools this fall.
County commissioners denied the request, which means the Durham Public Schools must absorb the additional expense using existing resources.