Patrick and Christy Condon were introduced to school-shopping soon after they moved from Boston to Cornelius, as their oldest son was about to start kindergarten.
“I did like everyone: You put your child’s name in a lot of lotteries,” Patrick Condon said. They were thrilled when Aidan got into a popular K-12 charter school. Aidan was quickly joined by his younger brother and sister, and the Condons thought their kids would stay put through high school.
But Aidan has special needs, and last year Christy, a former teacher, decided to home-school him. She used online lessons from K12, which provides home-school support and a virtual charter school.
The Condons were intrigued when they learned that state charter school officials had authorized Mallard Creek STEM Academy to open this year in north Charlotte, just inside the I-485 loop.
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Start-up charters can be a risk. Several have opened in temporary quarters as they hustle to get a building ready. Lower-than-expected enrollment can cut back promised offerings. And three in Charlotte have closed during their first year.
The Cordons checked the school out because of the focus on science, technology, engineering and math. They were impressed with the school’s leaders, and thought the workshop approach to reading and writing would be perfect for Aidan, now 11.
They also like the new building with plenty of land – even though, yes, the school scrambled to have it ready for Monday’s opening.
Aidan will be a fifth-grader at Mallard Creek STEM, joining about 570 K-6 students who have signed up.
Meanwhile, the Condons decided to move the two younger children to Cannon School, a private school in Concord.
“I don’t see it as charter school vs. not charter school,” Patrick Condon said. Instead, he says, parents need to figure out “what’s the right place for each of them individually.”
Learn more about charter schools: www.ncpublicschools.org/charterschools, firstname.lastname@example.org, 919-807-3491.