August 14, 2014

9 Charlotte-area charter schools set to open

Nine Charlotte-area charter schools are set to open in the coming weeks, the state Department of Public Instruction said Thursday.

Nine Charlotte-area charter schools are set to open in the coming weeks, the state Department of Public Instruction said Thursday.

One, United Community School on Idlewild Road North in Charlotte, had its first day this week. The rest will open between Monday and Sept. 2.

The updated list of charter school openings from the state contained no new surprises. Originally, 11 charter schools had been approved to open in the area, with 3,200 students. Two schools had already given notice that they wouldn’t open as scheduled this fall.

Carolina STEM Academy told parents in July that the school wouldn’t be able to open this year because of low enrollment and difficulty securing a location.

In April, Stewart Creek High School in west Charlotte asked for a one-year extension, with plans to open in fall 2015. The school said it needs more time to get its building ready.

The list from the Department of Public Instruction may alleviate concerns that additional charter schools might not be ready to open as expected. In June, a “ready to open” report distributed to a charter school advisory board showed that eight Charlotte-area charter schools had to do more to show they would be prepared for students. Two of those were well behind on documentation, the report said.

Entrepreneur High in east Charlotte fell into the latter category. Founder Hans Plotseneder said Thursday that the designation was because of “simple paperwork” that has now been completed.

“It was from the beginning not a real concern if we would be ready or not,” he said.

The school is still putting the finishing touches on construction of the school on Central Avenue. Plotseneder said the general contractor has told him it should be ready for its Sept. 2 opening.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has said it believes most of the enrollment growth in the county will come from charter schools. The district released projections this week that CMS will grow by about 750 students this year. Growth had been averaging about 3,000 per year.

The full impact of charter schools on enrollment is still shaking out. Many parents applied to several charter schools and magnet programs in CMS. The official census is taken after the 20th day of classes.

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, CMS Superintendent Heath Morrison said he had heard that some charter schools in the area still face “challenges” to opening on time or in their intended facility.

The North Carolina legislature lifted a restriction capping the number of charter schools at 100 in 2011. The state approved 23 schools to open last fall, including six in the Charlotte area.

Across the state, 24 charter schools have been given final approval to open this fall.

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