As many as 35 new charter schools want to open in North Carolina in 2020, including eight in Wake County and five in Mecklenburg County.
The State Office of Charter School announced Tuesday that 35 schools in 19 counties had met this year’s application deadline to try to open in the 2020-21 school year. The deadline had been extended from Friday to Monday to give more time to applicants affected by Hurricane Florence.
Charter schools are taxpayer-funded schools that are exempt from some of the rules that traditional public schools must follow, such as providing school meals and bus service. Supporters say charter schools provide families with more education options. But critics say charters siphon money away from traditional public schools and increase school segregation.
The first group of 34 charter schools in North Carolina opened in 1997. Growth was slow until state lawmakers lifted the 100-school limit in 2011. There are now 185 charter schools statewide with 15 schools approved for opening in 2019, which would raise the number to 200 schools.
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In recent years, charter school enrollment has increased while it has been declining in traditional public schools.
Wake County had the most new applicants this year. No new charter schools were proposed in Chatham, Durham, Johnston or Orange counties.
Several of the Wake County hopefuls are applicants who were either rejected in past years or who were approved but later withdrew their requests. The Wake applicants are CE Academy, Carolina Experimental School, Rise Academy, North Raleigh Charter Academy, Wendell Falls Charter Academy, Jordan Lake Academy, Doral Academy North Carolina and Wake Preparatory Academy.
The new Wake applicants could add to the 24 charter schools already open in the county. Only Mecklenburg County, which has 29 charter schools, has more charters than Wake.
The N.C. Charter Schools Advisory Board will recommend which schools should be approved by the State Board of Education.