RALEIGH — The State Board of Education gave preliminary approval Thursday for 25 charter schools to open next year, the largest expansion of the program since the legislature lifted the state’s 100-school charter cap last year.
The state board approved all the charters recommended by an advisory council, including five in the Triangle. The decision came despite the opposition of groups such as the N.C. Justice Center, which said approval shouldn’t be given to schools that had not received an “excellent” rating from the council.
But state education officials pointed to how they’ll still have to give final approval to the schools in March before they can open in the 2013-14 school year.
At that time, the new schools will be expected to show they’re on track to open.
The 25 new schools would add to 107 charter schools now open statewide. Charter schools are public schools that receive taxpayer money, but they operate without some of the constraints of regular public schools.
Among the group approved Thursday:
• The Longleaf School of the Arts in Raleigh.
• The Institute for the Development of Young Leaders in Durham.
• The Howard & Lillian Lee Scholars Charter in Chapel Hill, which would focus on closing racial achievement gaps.
• The Expedition School in Orange County, specializing in science, technology, engineering and math.
• Willow Montessori in Chatham County.
The Durham school board had asked the state not to allow any more charter schools to open in Durham County, as school officials are worried about the migration of more students from regular public schools.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education members also had raised concerns; five of the new charter schools approved Thursday are in Mecklenburg County.