The State Board of Education on Thursday approved two online charter schools that are eligible to begin enrolling students this fall.
The legislature required the State Board approve two virtual charters for four-year pilot programs.
N.C. Virtual Academy, which is affiliated with K12, Inc., and N.C. Connections Academy, which is working with education conglomerate Pearson, were the only two that applied. They will each be able to enroll up to 1,500 students in their first year.
Students enrolled in virtual schools get most of their instruction online, though parents are crucial “learning coaches” for younger children.
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K12, Inc. has had well-documented problems in other states that include low student performance.
Board member John Tate of Charlotte said he couldn’t vote for N.C. Virtual Academy, considering K12’s history.
“The heart of what drives our agenda is to do what’s right for our children,” he said.
Evelyn Bulluck, the Nash-Rocky Mount school board chairwoman and an adviser to the State Board, asked whether the state Department of Public Instruction could reopen the search for interested online schools.
“Perhaps we could get additional applicants that would give us a better choice,” she said.
Bulluck does not have a vote on the board, and member Greg Alcorn said a lot of work had been done to get to the point where the schools were ready for approval.
N.C. Connections Academy was approved unanimously.