Wake Ed

Wake County charter wants opening delayed but other schools growing

Allison Thomas, a math teacher at Triangle Math and Science Academy in Cary, teaches a seventh-grade class. The charter school wants state permission to expand its enrollment by 26 percent to 800 students this fall.
Allison Thomas, a math teacher at Triangle Math and Science Academy in Cary, teaches a seventh-grade class. The charter school wants state permission to expand its enrollment by 26 percent to 800 students this fall. snagem@newsobserver.com

One new Wake County charter school wants to postpone its scheduled August opening while four other charter schools in the county want permission for big enrollment expansions this fall.

The State Board of Education discussed this week the request from Pine Springs Preparatory Academy for a one-year delay in its planned 2016-17 school year opening. Pine Springs is citing unexpected delays in their acquisition, approval for, and construction of their proposed facility in Holly Springs.

The Office of Charter Schools is recommending approval of the one-year delay as long as Pine Springs meets a series of stipulations. The State Board had previously voted in August to give the school preliminary approval to open in 2016.

The State Board is expected to vote in June on the request from Pine Springs, which had projected having 396 students in its first year. But even without Pine Springs, the State Board will vote in June on giving final approval to three other new charter schools in Wake County that have a projected first-year enrollment of 1,434 students.

Also this week, the State Board discussed a request from 23 charter schools to expand their enrollments by more than 20 percent for the upcoming school year. That group includes requests from East Wake Academy, Southern Wake Academy, Triangle Math And Science Academy and PAVE Southeast Raleigh to increase their enrollments by 762 students this fall.

The Office of Charter Schools is recommending approval of the expansion requests. That board vote could come in February.

Charter schools that want less than a 20-percent expansion don’t need to go to the state for approval. Charter schools are taxpayer-funded schools that are independent of traditional public schools.

This new round of charter-school expansion comes at a time when the Wake County school system is facing increasing competition from those non-traditional public schools.

The school system reports that 9,577 Wake County students are attending charter schools across the state this school year. That’s a 9.4 percent increase in a year where only one new charter school opened in the county. Enrollment in charter schools among Wake County students has increased 51 percent in the last three years.

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