The first charter school in Southeast Raleigh will open in August with more students than expected.
PAVE Southeast Raleigh Charter School will serve 127 students. The school planned to enroll 120 students in kindergarten and first grade this year, according to its application with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
The school will serve mostly low-income and minority students. Ariana Kanwit, the school’s principal, said families have enrolled at PAVE because it will provide lunch and transportation services, which most charter schools don’t offer.
“The draw is that it’s accessible,” Kanwit said. “When charter schools don’t provide meals and transportation, it’s hard for low-income families to have access to them.”
Charter schools are taxpayer-funded public schools that are exempt from some of the regulations traditional schools must follow.
PAVE budgeted $40,000 for buses and plans to implement a lunch program that follows the guidelines of the federal free and reduced-price lunch program, according to its charter application.
Meals and transportation services are a key part of the PAVE model.
The original PAVE charter school opened in 2008 in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Raleigh school will be the second location in the country, and PAVE plans to open six more schools by 2020 – three in North Carolina and three in Brooklyn.
PAVE Southeast Raleigh Charter School will be similar to the Brooklyn school, according to the charter application. Curriculum and assessments will be the same.
Students at PAVE also attend school for eight hours a day, which is an hour longer than most schools in Wake County. The school year is 10 days longer than Wake County’s school year.
Eventually, the Raleigh school plans to enroll about 500 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
The school hopes 100 percent of its students will graduate from college, school leaders have said.
Kanwit, who was a dean at the Brooklyn school, said she has spent the last year going door-to-door in Southeast Raleigh to recruit students.
“We predominantly wanted to be a community school,” she said.
Like all charter schools, PAVE is open to any student in North Carolina. Students from Knightdale, Garner and North Raleigh have enrolled this year.
The Raleigh school is mostly made up of black and Hispanic students, with a large population of students who speak English as a second language, Kanwit said.
PAVE – which stands for the school’s core values of perseverance, achievement, vibrance and excellent character – has been successful in raising test scores among minorities in Brooklyn.
Across the state of New York, proficiency rates among black and Hispanic students were below 20 percent in 2012. At PAVE Brooklyn, 40 percent of black and Hispanic students were proficient in Common Core assessments in the same year.