For-profit companies drawn by end of NC charter school cap

Though schools run by for-profit companies remain a small percentage of the total number of charter schools in North Carolina, their ranks are growing quickly.

Their rise can be traced to a move made by the state legislature in 2011. For years before that, North Carolina had limited the number of charter schools that could operate in the state to 100. Republicans praised a law to lift that cap as a way to give families more choices, and to help students not well served by traditional schools.

The number of North Carolina charter schools run by a for-profit management company has more than doubled, from eight to 17, since the cap was lifted four years ago, according to data from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

By next year, that number could double again.

Three more schools run by for-profits have been approved to open in the fall. And 15 more have applied to open for the 2016-17 school year.

Richard Page, senior vice president of development at Florida-based Charter Schools USA, said his company had received numerous requests from groups in North Carolina before the cap was lifted. The company’s first two North Carolina schools opened in 2013, and a third in 2014. Four more schools are planned.

“We know that we can do more when there is a network of schools,” he said.

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Twitter: @andrew_dunn