State gets record number of charter applications for 2014

Mar. 04, 2013 @ 08:56 PM

Seven new public charter schools could be on the way to our region.

The state Department of Public Education's Office of Charter Schools Monday announced it had received 70 applications for charter programs that would, if approved, open in August 2014 throughout North Carolina.

That's less than half of the 156 letters of intent received in January, so the potential statewide glut of charter schools may not quite be at hand. However, it is an uptick from the 63 applications received last year and it is a record since the first charter school was approved in this state in 1997.

Some of the seven applicants this year in Durham,  Orange and Chatham counties are returning after prior rejection, such as The Expedition School in Orange County and Reaching All Minds Academy. But some applicants, such as the Antonio Academy and Excelsior Classical Academy, are new.

Also up for consideration for the first time: The NC Connections Academy, which would be a statewide online charter school.

Durham Public Schools administrators and Board of Education members have spoken against public charter schools in the past because the charter schools divert money - and students - from the traditional public schools.

 Anthony Rodriguez, director of advocacy for the North Carolina Public Charter Schools Association, said in a prepared statement that the growth in applicants is a sign.

"Parents, students and educators are seeking choices and competition in education," he said. "Charter schools provide this choice. The association has been working with many of the applicants and we are positive that we will see quality applications as the charter council reviews them."

Darrell Allison, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, said he wasn't surprised by the flood of applications, "which confirms our efforts for eliminating the cap on public charter schools."