Six new charter schools are on track to open in the Charlotte region in August, providing new education options for about 3,400 students in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties.
School officials spoke to the North Carolina Charter School Advisory Board on Tuesday to answer questions about enrollment, buildings, staffing and other issues. The state Board of Education makes the final decision about whether schools are ready to open, but the advisory panel gave its approval to all 11 schools opening in 2016-17.
The Charlotte area continues its tradition of attracting the bulk of North Carolina’s charter school growth, accounting for six of the 11. The five outside the region are mostly smaller schools, expecting a combined enrollment of fewer than 1,200 students.
Charter schools, which are tuition-free public schools run by independent boards, are expected to account for the majority of Mecklenburg County’s enrollment growth next year. Unlike district schools, they can take students across county lines, which means charter schools in nearby counties often attract Mecklenburg students.
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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, which served about 77 percent of Mecklenburg students in 2015-16, will not open any new schools in August. District officials project that CMS will grow by about 500 students, to about 146,600, while Mecklenburg enrollment in charter schools will grow by almost 2,700, to about 18,200.
Here’s what Tuesday’s reports showed about schools in the Charlotte area.
▪ Mallard Creek STEM Academy has 614 K-6 students enrolled, topping projections of about 550. School leaders told the state that number allows for students who may not show up. Details: www.mcstemacademy.org
▪ Matthews Charter Academy is on target to open with about 600 K-6 students. It’s part of the National Heritage Academies chain. Board President Ed Sieber said a rainy spring and delays in getting permits have put construction behind schedule, but the school is close to signing a contract on a temporary location about three miles from the final site. Details: www.matthewscharteracademy.org
▪ Unity Classical School, which had been approved to open with about 200 students in grades K-2 this year, has been granted a one-year delay to build enrollment. It was not part of the list reviewed Tuesday.
▪ Union Day School, a K-3 school that originally planned to open with 325 students in Waxhaw, has revised its plans to 285 and is on track for that. Details: www.uniondayschool.com
▪ Union Preparatory Academy at Indian Trail, approved for about 660 K-6 students, has enrolled 750 to account for possible no-shows. It’s part of the Charter Schools USA chain. Details: www.indiantrailprep.org
▪ Kannapolis Charter Academy, approved to open with 660 K-6 students, has about 600 so far and has a waiting list in some grades. Details: www.kannapolischarter.org
▪ Iredell Charter Academy, approved to open with 660 K-6 students in Troutman, had about 470 as of the late May reporting date and is continuing to enroll students. Details: www.iredellcharter.org
Iredell and Kannapolis charter academies will be run by a four-school charter board, which also oversees Langtree and Cabarrus charter academies. All four are part of the Charter Schools USA chain.