An Apex charter school that delayed its opening a year is moving forward to open next fall by hiring a principal and beginning student enrollment.
Peak Charter Academy – Apex’s first charter school – will be northeast of Apex’s downtown, on the south side of U.S. 64 near its intersection with Blackburn Road.
It’s the second charter school expected to open in southwestern Wake County in the 2017-18 school year. Pine Springs Preparatory Academy in Holly Springs also is scheduled to open at an $11 million, 44,000-square-foot building at 190 Rosewood Centre Drive, which hasn’t been built.
Both delayed their openings after facing issues securing sites.
“My understanding was that it was very difficult to find contractors that could do things on the timeline we needed to do them,” said Steve Pond, the school’s new principal. “We certainly acknowledge that we could have started that earlier, but there was no guarantee that contractors could hit an end-of-August deadline.”
Charter schools are publicly funded with no tuition. They provide families with an alternative to the schools in their attendance zones but are not bound to many of the curricular or regulatory guidelines traditional public schools must abide by. They also don’t receive funds for buildings or transportation.
Peak Charter will become one of 10 North Carolina charter schools administered by the National Heritage Academies, a national charter school management company based in Michigan.
Peak Charter’s open enrollment period, which began Oct. 10, runs through Nov. 10. There are two enrollment sessions Wednesday, Oct. 26, at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. at Hope Chapel, 6175 Old Jenks Road in Apex.
Enrollment is open to students entering kindergarten through seventh grade. It will expand to the eighth grade the following year.
Pond said the maximum enrollment for this first year will be 596 students. He said the school already has received several applications. If more than 596 applications are accepted, a lottery will be held before the end of November to randomly select students for admission.
Pond has 16 years of education experience, mostly in Wake County, as a teacher, coach and mentor for new teachers. He earned a master’s degree of school administration from N.C. State and was named Ligon GT Magnet Middle School’s Teacher of the Year in 2004.
He was the founding principal of Wake Forest’s Envision Science Academy, another charter school, but resigned in April 2015. He said then he was forced to resign by the school’s board, which was being investigated by the state following parent complaints about board members’ behavior.
Since then, Pond has been director of N.C. State’s University Performance Program, working with New Mind Education to help integrate international students into American universities.
Pond will hold two informal drop-in sessions at Common Grounds Coffee on Nov. 1 at 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Like many NHA schools, Peak will operate under a “Moral Focus” curriculum, which aims to teach virtue alongside academic skills. Pond said that focus drew him to seek a position with an NHA school.
“It’s about the virtues of life that are essential parts of what we teach,” Pond said. “Every month has a specific moral focus virtue, whether that be wisdom or respect or integrity. I think that’s a cool way to teach children far beyond the academic experience they’re having and set them up for the experiences they’ll have as human beings.”
Gargan: 919-460-2604; @hgargan
New charter schools
▪ Peak Charter Academy will host an enrollment information meeting at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 26 at Hope Chapel at 6175 Old Jenks Road in Apex. Open enrollment has begun. There will be informal sessions to meet principal Steve Pond Nov. 1 at 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. at Common Grounds Coffee, 219 N. Salem St., Suite 101, Apex. nhaschools.com/schools/peak or facebook.com/PeakCharterAcademy
▪ Pine Springs Preparatory Academy information is at pinespringsprep.org or facebook.com/pinespringsprepacademy