Education

Three Charlotte charter schools get final green light, but one scales back size

What students will see when Movement School opens

Brett McDonough, Movement Mortgages chief investment officer and a board member of Movement School, talks about what students should expect at the new Charlotte charter school.
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Brett McDonough, Movement Mortgages chief investment officer and a board member of Movement School, talks about what students should expect at the new Charlotte charter school.

Three new charter schools are ready to open in Charlotte next month, with the North Carolina Board of Education signing off Thursday that they’ve done everything required.

The Charlotte region continues to play a starring role in North Carolina’s surge of charters, which are alternative public schools run by independent boards. Three of the seven new charter schools opening this year are in Charlotte.

While demand is high and charter schools account for the bulk of enrollment growth in the region, start-ups can also find the competition fierce. One of the new Charlotte schools, Unity Classical Charter School, got approval Thursday to open with only 138 K-2 students, even though the initial budget called for just over 200. A letter from the school’s board said the school had 85 enrolled as of early June, and was having some trouble attracting first- and second-graders.

With charters growing and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools boosting its magnet offerings, the proliferation of tuition-free options can make forecasting enrollment difficult for all. Both charters and magnets use lotteries to award seats when there are more applicants than spaces. School-shopping families often apply several places and may leave their children on the list if they get into more than one school, creating first-day shortfalls for the schools they don’t pick.

Here are this year’s new charter schools.

▪ Movement School opens Aug. 9 in the former Kmart on Freedom Drive in west Charlotte. It’s a spinoff of the longstanding and popular Sugar Creek Charter School in east Charlotte, launched with financial support from the Movement Foundation. It plans to open with about 300 K-2 students, eventually expanding to K-8.

▪ Unity Classical Charter School plans to open Aug. 28 at Steele Creek Church-Charlotte on Arrowood Road (charter schools can be housed in churches but cannot offer religious education). It’s part of the Team CFA network that includes Charlotte’s Aristotle Prep and Veritas schools.

Uproar charter Genesia Newsome
Genesia Newsome is one of the founders of Uproar Leadership Academy in Charlotte. Ann Doss Helms ahelms@charlotteobserver.com

▪ Uproar Leadership Academy is scheduled to open Aug. 28 in the North Tryon Street building that used to house Crossroads Charter. It’s a “quasi-military” school founded by two veterans and plans to open with 250 students in grades five to eight, with high school eventually being added.

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

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