RALEIGH — The State Board of Education gave final approval Thursday for 26 new charter schools to open this fall ‑ the largest expansion of the program since the late 1990s.
Six Triangle-area schools received approval, with four from Wake County: Cardinal Charter, Dynamic Community Charter, Envision Science Academy and Wake Forest Charter Academy. Approval was also given to Anderson Creek Club Charter in Harnett County and Reaching All Minds Academy in Durham.
Other schools approved Thursday include 11 in the Charlotte area and Providence Charter High School in Rockingham County, applied for by Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger Jr., the son of Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger.
Charter schools are public schools that are exempt from some of the regulations that traditional public schools must follow. They are also independent of the school districts in which they’re located.
While she voted to approve the new charters, State Treasurer Janet Cowell said they should consider the impact that these schools have on taking funding away from the traditional public schools. Legislators removed last year the provision in state law letting school districts raise concerns about the impact of charters.
The number of charter schools in North Carolina has expanded sharply since legislators eliminated the 100-school cap in 2011. There are now 127 schools with Thursday's vote raising the number to 153 schools. But the state Board is scheduled to vote February on a recommendation to not renew the charter for PACE Academy in Orange County.
The number of charter schools could rise to more than 200 next year. A total of 71 applications have been received to open new charter schools in 2015.
On Monday, the state Office of Charter Schools will recommend to the Charter Schools Advisory Board which of the 71 applicants should go forward for further review.