Education

2,000-student charter school won’t open in Cary, where neighbors pushed back

Thales Academy has expressed interest in building a school on this land in Chatham County near Cary.
Thales Academy has expressed interest in building a school on this land in Chatham County near Cary.

The group behind Cary’s Charter Academy has abandoned plans for a 2,000-student charter school near the Cary-Chatham County border.

The Triangle Charter Education Association and Charter Schools USA had planned to open Cardinal Charter Academy West Campus, a K-12 school, on 20 acres at the intersection of Yates Store and New Hope Church roads.

But in a brief note to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction on Aug. 2, Allen Taylor, president of the Triangle Charter Education Association, said his board had voted Aug. 1 to voluntarily relinquish its charter for the Cary-Chatham school.

Taylor cited “the continued challenges we have faced throughout the development process,” but he did not elaborate.

In January, The News & Observer reported that hundreds of people had signed an online petition calling on Cary leaders to block the school, which would have been in Chatham County but within Cary’s planning jurisdiction. Opponents cited traffic concerns, and they argued that western Wake County had an ample number of schools.

In an email last month, a spokeswoman said Charter Schools USA was looking beyond the land at Yates Store and New Hope Church roads. “The location we had originally planned is no longer viable, so we are evaluating other options,” said Colleen Reynolds, president of Edge Communications, a public relations firm. “We do not have any specific locations to share at this point.”

But then came the Aug. 1 board meeting of the Triangle Charter Education Association and Taylor’s brief note the next day to Dave Machado, director of Office of Charter Schools within the Department of Public Instruction.

But that doesn’t mean the Triangle Charter Education Association is through opening charter schools in Wake County. At its Aug. 1 meeting, the group’s board agreed to file applications with the state to open charter schools in Wake Forest and in the Wendell Falls community in Wendell.

Charter schools are one option in the growing "school choice" movement. Funded by taxpayer money, these schools are growing nationally, though some states have yet to pass related laws. Find out what sets them apart.

Scott Bolejack: 919-829-4629, @ScottBolejack
  Comments