The Kaleidoscope Charter High School in Morrisville is still waiting to hear whether it can officially open as a charter school.
In the meantime, before an April 12 meeting with the state Department of Public Instruction , the board is raising money for the school’s eventual building.
The Kaleidoscope 5K Run & Walk took place April 3 at Morrisville’s Indian Creek Park.
Funds will benefit the school’s capital fund. Kaleidoscope would be the first high school in Morrisville, the largest town in Wake County without one. Charter schools receive operational funding from the state but are generally on their own with respect to capital expenses, including the cost of building the school itself.
Kaleidoscope has twice had its application for a charter rejected, but board members say they’re confident in the application submitted this year.
“We did a lot better this time on our application than we did last year,” board member Janet Littlejohn said. “We had Emily Orr on the lead rewriting the application. She’s worked on two charters that have passed; we thought she’d do a good job, and she did.”
Morrisville Mayor Mark Stohlman, who is a member of Kaleidoscope’s board, said previous application cycles and feedback given ahead of the April 12 in-person interview have revealed what DPI is looking for, and the board has adjusted its application accordingly. Among the changes to this year’s effort, Littlejohn said, is a revised focus on student-directed learning as opposed to previous emphases on the arts and technology, though she said those are still critical components of the school’s mission.
The student-directed nature of the school’s instruction is meant to be somewhat consistent with the Montessori method practiced at Morrisville’s Sterling Montessori Academy and Charter School, where Littlejohn works.
Prospective charter schools are required to submit detailed applications outlining the school’s mission, operations and long-term plan. In the past, application decisions have been rendered by early winter, but personnel changes at DPI have pushed that deadline back into mid-spring, Littlejohn said.
Kaleidoscope’s anticipated opening is set for August 2017, or less than a year and a half after the DPI’s decision.
“Normally we would have known by Christmastime,” Stohlman said. “This time they’re being very careful, which is fine, but every month that we wait makes it more of a challenge to open up (next August).”
There’s a daunting amount of work to be done, too. In that time, the board will have to raise the better part of $20 to $25 million, purchase land, build the school and hire teachers, among hundreds of other, smaller tasks.
Fundraising efforts can only begin in earnest once the board learns the fate of its application, ideally the same week of its April 12 interview with DPI officials. Races like Sunday’s 5K, Stohlman said, are more about building community support around the school, which benefits both efforts to attract investors and its application for a charter.
And if the board’s application is rejected again, Littlejohn said the school “will be moving ahead either way.” She said Kaleidoscope would open as a private school with an eye toward submitting a conversion application after two or three years that would grant it a state charter.
“If you say you’re going to open in August of 2017, you’d better open in August of 2017,” Littlejohn said. “We don’t want to let our families down.”
Gargan: 919-460-2604; @hgargan