Developers of the proposed Cardinal Charter School in Knightdale say they will leave Knightdale and look elsewhere for a place to locate their school after the town of Knightdale twice spurned requests to approve sites for the new school.
In an unusually frank exchange, Cardinal Charter officials basically say they didn’t feel welcomed in Knightdale. That’s a victory of sorts and a loss in other ways.
The General Assembly has allowed the proliferation of charter schools throughout the state, which will undoubtedly result in decreased diversity and a further dilution of public funds for existing schools in favor of spending money with private entities – such as Cardinal. In a sense, Knightdale has said it doesn’t want to be part of that game. Town leaders have for some time now, been vocal about increasing student outcomes at the traditional public schools. They have worked with school leaders to make investment in the Knightdale area schools and indications are that the renewed interest is helping those schools.
So, in a sense, Knightdale’s reaction to the Cardinal request is a victory for the public school system – the kind of victory public schools have needed badly for some time now.
But there is a cautionary tale here for Knightdale leaders too. Knightdale continued to grow even through the recession and, just now, we are starting to see an uptick in growth as the continual spillover from Raleigh hits Knightdale before it reaches other eastern Wake County towns.
That means the town can be a little more demanding and require greater concessions from developers. But town leaders want to avoid gaining the perception – as its neighbors in Wendell have – of being too difficult to deal with.
While it may seem that Knightdale is the natural place for new development to take root, there’s nothing that says it has to happen there. Developers still have other choices.
Knightdale’s Development Services Director Chris Hills should take the recent criticism from Cardinal under advisement and ask whether his department is doing all it can to encourage development while still being discreet enough to assure that the development is the kind of thing Knightdale’s long-range plans envision.