Wake Ed

New Rolesville charter school wants to delay opening until 2018

Leaders of Rolesville’s first charter school want state permission to delay opening until 2018 because they’re not certain their new building will be ready on time this year.

Rolesville Charter Academy had received State Board of Education approval to open for the 2017-18 school year. But academy leaders say they need a one-year delay because the company that will manage the school, National Heritage Academies, can’t guarantee it will have a building ready by August 2017.

“Our Board voted on November 7, 2016 to respectfully request a delay to open our school in the fall of 2018,” said Lisa Kane, chairwoman of Rolesville Charter Academy’s board, in a letter to state officials. “We believe this will allow us the time to best achieve our mission, continue to build a strong relationship with families, and to ensure that our school building will be of the highest quality and completed well prior to the start of school.”

The State Board of Education will discuss Rolesville Charter’s request on Wednesday. The State Board could reject the request, which would cause the school to lose its charter. But the state Office of Charter Schools is recommending granting the one-year delay.

The State Board of Education is also scheduled to discuss Wednesday a second request for a one-year delay from Cardinal Charter Academy at Knightdale. Like Rolesville Charter, leaders of that school also are citing difficulties securing a site.

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. For instance, Peak Charter Academy in Apex and Pine Springs Preparatory Academy in Holly Springs are both planning to open in 2017 after getting one-year delays.

Rolesville Charter Academy leaders pointed to the difficulties experienced by National Heritage Academies in getting new charter schools to open in North Carolina. One of those schools that encountered trouble was Peak Charter.

Leaders of Peak Charter didn’t tell prospective families that the school wouldn’t open in August 2016 until March 1.

National Heritage Academies realized the challenges with Peak Charter too late, which prevented parents from applying to other charter schools and to magnet schools in the Wake County school system, according to Rolesville Charter’s November board meeting minutes.