Two new charter schools in Wake County hope state leaders will allow them to delay opening until 2018 while they continue to search for places to call home.
Cardinal Charter Academy at Knightdale and Rolesville Charter Academy were both given approval by the State Board of Education to open this year. But leaders of both schools are asking for one-year delays due to difficulties finding locations for their campuses.
The state board could reject the requests, which would result in both schools losing their charters. But the state Office of Charter Schools has recommended approving both requests and state board members raised no objections this week. The requests will be voted on in February.
“We really don’t want schools opening and being somewhere across the street and then two months later uprooting,” said Becky Taylor, chairwoman of the state board’s education innovation and charter schools committee.
Charter schools are taxpayer-funded schools that are exempt from some of the regulations that traditional public schools must follow. There are 167 charter schools open statewide this year.
One of the obstacles encountered by new charter schools is finding a facility. After finding a site, schools deal with issues such as road improvements required by municipalities and the state Department of Transportation.
Wayne McDevitt, vice chairman of the education innovation and charter schools committee, said he’s surprised they haven’t had more requests from newly approved charter schools to delay opening.
“I think some are overly optimistic on how quickly they can open the doors,” McDevitt said.
In their request, leaders of Rolesville Charter say they want a delay because the company that will manage the school, National Heritage Academies, can’t guarantee it will have a building ready by August 2017.
For Cardinal Charter Academy at Knightdale, it’s the second time school leaders have requested a delay. The N.C. Charter Schools Advisory Board backed Cardinal’s request for a second delay but warned it wouldn’t support another delay.
Cardinal was initially supposed to open in 2016, but school leaders requested a one-year delay because two locations in Knightdale fell through. In both cases, town leaders raised concerns with the locations.
After getting permission to delay opening to 2017, Cardinal looked at a location on Poole Road in Raleigh to serve east Raleigh and Knightdale. But in their request for another delay, school leaders say the Poole Road site is no longer an option because of expensive DOT road requirements.
Taylor asked whether Cardinal had considered looking for a site in a more welcoming area. Dave Machado, director of the state Office of Charter Schools, said school leaders are committed to serving the population of Knightdale.
“They’ve definitely persevered,” Taylor said. “I mean really having gone above and beyond to fight this, so we hope that it will work out during the next several months.”