Under the Dome

NC charter school conference coming to Durham

Durham, NC's Reaching All Minds Academy charter school third graders in biotech teacher Valerie Chambers' (cq) class spend time reading about ecosystems while seated on a carpet of the periodic table of the elements Monday afternoon, December 15, 2014. Reaching All Minds Academy, a new STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) charter school in Durham, NC opened in August, 2014 and was nearing its projected enrollment of 144 children by the end of the year.
Durham, NC's Reaching All Minds Academy charter school third graders in biotech teacher Valerie Chambers' (cq) class spend time reading about ecosystems while seated on a carpet of the periodic table of the elements Monday afternoon, December 15, 2014. Reaching All Minds Academy, a new STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) charter school in Durham, NC opened in August, 2014 and was nearing its projected enrollment of 144 children by the end of the year. hlynch@newsobserver.com

What’s being billed as North Carolina’s largest charter school gathering will take place next week at the Durham Convention Center.

The N.C. Public Charter Schools Association expects more than 500 people to participate in the group’s baseball-themed conference called “Knocking it Out of the Park.” The two-day conference, Monday and Tuesday, will include training sessions and workshops, such as one on writing charter applications.

Organizers say the event is being held in the Triangle because Wake and Durham counties have the largest concentration of charters in the state and are home to 34 charter schools, including four opening this summer.

Ember Reichgott Junge, who authored the nation’s first charter law in Minnesota in 1991, will give the keynote speech at a luncheon that will also include legislator awards and speeches from other charter leaders.

The event is open to the public for both days at $199. Registration is online at http://ncpubliccharters.org/.

The conference will take place during a period of continued expansion for North Carolina’s charter schools. The 70,347 charter students accounted for 4 percent of the state’s 1.7 million public, private and homeschool students during the 2014-15 school year.

Charter schools are taxpayer-funded schools that are some exempt from some regulations that traditional public schools must follow. Supporters say charters provide more choices for families. But critics say charters take needed funding away from traditional public schools.

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