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New school year, new high school building for Sugar Creek Charter

From left, Sugar Creek Charter math teacher Quadasia Walker-Moss meets with one of her new students Alex Cooper 15 an upcoming 10th-grader, her sister Simone Cooper 11, and parents Morris and Olga Cooper. Sugar Creek Charter students go back to school this week, and high school students will be in a new building.
From left, Sugar Creek Charter math teacher Quadasia Walker-Moss meets with one of her new students Alex Cooper 15 an upcoming 10th-grader, her sister Simone Cooper 11, and parents Morris and Olga Cooper. Sugar Creek Charter students go back to school this week, and high school students will be in a new building. rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

About 1,400 more students are going back to school this week, as Sugar Creek Charter School opened with a new high school.

One of Charlotte’s original charter schools, Sugar Creek has operated in a former Kmart on North Tryon Street since 1999. Last year the K-8 school added ninth-graders, and this year it bought a church about 3 miles away on Old Concord Road.

The school’s board bought and renovated the former University City Church, along with an adjacent gymnasium and almost 11 acres, for $4.6 million. Ninth- and 10th-graders got their first look at their new home at an open house Tuesday evening. Their classes start Wednesday.

Charter schools are a form of public education run by nonprofit boards. They get public money for education, but not for facilities, which makes expansion a challenge.

Still, charter schools are growing at a rapid clip, especially in the Charlotte region, since the state lifted a 100-school cap in 2011.

Charters also have more flexibility with their academic calendar. While most school districts and many charters start their year on Aug. 24, a steady trickle of charter openings will take place over the next 2 1/2 weeks.

Ann Doss Helms: 704-358-5033, @anndosshelms

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