Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Charlotte's charter choices growing

Updated Wednesday afternoon: The Charlotte region, already a haven for charter schools, is poised to add more to the menu, as the state's Charter School Advisory Board starts winnowing applications for 2013-14. Seven applications of the 25 applications that got the panel's nod this week are from Mecklenburg and surrounding counties (the state Board of Education makes the final call). One of the five rejected is from Mecklenburg, according to a report from Eddie Goodall of Monroe, executive director of the N.C. Public Charter Schools Association.

I wrote about the charter boom in April, when Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools planners said growth in the area's existing charters would shift about 1,000 more students to charters in 2012-13. A state tally shows that in the year that just ended, Mecklenburg County sent almost 8,300 students to charters and 137,500 to  CMS -- by far the highest total number of charter students of any N.C. county, and the highest charter-to-school district ratio in any of the state's large districts.

The seven Charlotte-area applicants that got approval from the advisory board would open up spots for about 3,000 students in 2013-14, growing to more than 8,000 as they expand and add grades in later years. The two largest would be located just outside Mecklenburg (students can cross county lines for charters), while the other five would target disadvantaged urban students.

The state Board of Education plans to vote on new charters in September. Here's what I know about the Charlotte-area charters that got preliminary approval.

Aristotle Preparatory Academy, a K-12 school which would be run by the national Challenge Foundation Academy chain and would target students in west Charlotte, with a focus on science, technology and math. Plans call for opening with 200 students in K-3, eventually growing to 950 in all grades.

Cameron Creek Charter would serve at-risk K-5 students in impoverished Charlotte communities, opening with 260 students and growing to 360. The founder is Sylvia Cole, who lists herself as both a CMS teacher and an officer of the Strawberry Mansion Area Renaissance Trust Corp. in Philadelphia.

Charlotte Choice Charter would target disadvantaged K-8 students in west Charlotte, opening with about 200 in K-5 and growing to just over 300. The founder is Linda Cruz, listed as a former teacher at CMS' Providence High and a former regional director for Academic Achievers Tutoring Program.

Cabarrus Charter Academy and Langtree Charter Academy would be run by the N.C. Charter Educational Foundation, which is associated with the Florida-based Charter Schools USA management company. They will offer a college-prep K-12 program with eventual enrollment of more than 2,300 in each school. Each plans to open with about 660 in grades K-6.

Invest Collegiate will be located in Charlotte's Wilmore neighborhood and aims to mix low-income students in walking distance with upper- and middle-income students for a diverse K-12 learning experience. The founding board includes educators from CMS' Eastway Middle and Pine Lake Prep charter school. Enrollment would start at about 560 in K-6 and grow to more than 1,100.

StudentFirst Academy, a private school in west Mecklenburg County, is seeking permission to convert to a charter school. The plan calls for it to serve about 600 K-12 students eventually, opening with just over 300 in K-6.

Meanwhile, the advisory board rejected the plan for Thunderbird Preparatory Academy, which wanted to serve almost 1,300 K-12 students with an international leadership program in north Mecklenburg.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Six schools that will suck up money and resources from CMS.

What does the research say about the quality of the education the students get?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:51, you should get your facts correct on funds for charter schools. Charter's do not take resources from local districts. Local school districts are only required to pay the per student funding to a charter that would have been allocated to the student had the student gone to school in the local district school. Charter schools do not get any money from the state or local districts for facilities. All capital funding must come from outside sources.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:51
Click on the links provided on the page for DPI state report cards for the schools to see how the students perform. Inform yourself about Charter Schools before typing false comments about money and resources.

Anonymous said...

What did 6:51 say that was false? Nothing.

Charter schools definitely divert resources from CMS. It's a boondoggle. If you want to send you kids to a private school, pay for it yourself.

mamahos said...

Why are all these school for low-income students? Don't middle class students get a unique, positive educational experience too? Middle class can't afford private schools.

Anonymous said...

I certainly wish a few of these found their way to SouthPark, Cotswold or South Charlotte. Parents need other options if CMS is not going to offer a better product. If you factor out the CMS downtown waste factor Charter Schools would actually be a better product and cheaper. Parents would pay a few thousand for piece of mind.

Anonymous said...

The popularity of charter schools speaks to the sorry state of CMS. Personally, I wish they could open withhout there being a limit as long as they were closely monitored for effectiveness and their charter jerked if they didn't perform significantly better than CMS. As far as their "sucking revenue and resources" from CMS, it is the "high poverty schools" that suck resources from the surburban schools in CMS. Until and unless that situation changes, more power to the charters!

Anonymous said...

Anyone who cares enough to make the investment of time and money can apply for approval for a charter school. This is as grass roots an opportunity as it gets. So if you think that Southpark/Cotswold needs a charter school, you should organize a group to create one.

I like the idea of giving west side CMS schools some competition and proving that with the right parent support, kids from urban areas can succeed.

Anonymous said...

There are no charter schools in Cotswold or SouthPark because the real estate is too expensive. Why don't you take your "few thousand dollars" and invest some time, energy, and money in making your local neighborhood school the best it can be. By the way, the public schools in those neighborhoods are some of the best in the city.

Anonymous said...

CMS gives the charters the average per student funding, not the per student funding allocated to the school the child is leaving. So if a child leaves a suburban school with a low per student funding, CMS just paid the charter school more than it would have spent to educate that child at his or her home school.

As for facilities funding, CMS and the state have already provided a physical spot for that child. It's not the tax payers responsibility to provide another one.

Anonymous said...

Disband CMS. Make all Mecklenburg County schools charters.

Anonymous said...

9:59 and 10:26 anon- Land is not expensive in Southside of town in current market so schools could be built for Charter. Why over at the Smith Language academy a school ists vacant that is paid for what a wonderful place for a Charter. Some 70% of the kids in the South district go to private schools due to the downtown poor quality CMS is selling. We the residents on the Southside pay 80% of the County and State tax burden. Why in your thinking structure we should have marble floors and a LIFT zone created. CMS would never let us take our schools over like LIFT did or go Charter they would have to close all their schools when they saw the results.

Anonymous said...

I like the way you just make up numbers.

Bill Stevens said...

Interesting that the NC School Board disallowed a charter school in north Mecklenburg County. I notice John Tate is on the this board. Wonder if he campaigned against it with his usual slant?

Anonymous said...

Dear 8:27, Check the website yourself. http://www.ncpublicschools.org/charterschools/faqs/ I’ll quote a part of it for you. Charter schools “are public schools and funding for the schools come from federal, state, and local taxes.”
8:36, Follow your own advice.
Thanks Anon 6:51

Anonymous said...

5:21,
Smith Language Academy has been refurbished for administrative staff. It's not empty, it's just closer to South Park for the CMS lunch crowd.

Anonymous said...

To those people who believe that the cap on charter schools should be lifted, just remember that they are public schools too and adding charter schools adds to the budget. Since money is tight and the economy isn't what it should be, I suggest this: allow the parents of each public school's attendance zone to vote on whether they would like to become a charter school or remain with CMS (or Union, Gaston, etc. etc.). In that way, you are offering people a choice.

I predict that if this option was available (and you can bet money you don't even have that CMS will fight it) CMS would shrink down to almost nothing, if not disappear entirely. I for one would welcome that development.

Anonymous said...

I am all for Charter Schools but it would be nice if these schools could benefit all and not just West Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

Project LIFT is basically a CHarter School now. It has its own schedule and makes its own excuses. Only difference is Charters are held accountable for out comes in education and LIFT is a excuse machine.

Anonymous said...

10:00 PM, this will be interesting to watch now that Dr. Morrison has promised Kojo that CMS will prove whether or not it saved money closing these schools.

I contend this mostly was a shell game some downtown people played. While it was the right thing to do for Waddell HS, to have Smith move in, CMS should have not spent any monety to renovate Smith. If it needed space, it should have used the newer Lincoln Heights ES or JT Williams MS. But as we also now, CMS is holding those facilities in reserve for LIFT playing that nepotism game.

Anonymous said...

9:36 AM, curious that the state school board can shut down an underperforming charter but has no jurisdiction to shut down a non performing LEA school.

Anonymous said...

July 18, 2012 10:58 AM, 25% of the CMS budget is the "revenge" offering the suburban tapayers have to pay for getting CMS out from under the federal busing order.

Wiley Coyote said...

Anonymous said...

I am all for Charter Schools but it would be nice if these schools could benefit all and not just West Charlotte.
July 19, 2012 9:17 AM


All you have to do is fill out an application. Go for it.

As I also said in another piece, it will be interesting to see how CMS spins its enrollment, since students have to come from somewhere to fill "3,000 new seats".

Perhaps taxpayers in Mecklenburg County will then be able to demand a cut in the CMS budget because of declining enrollment.

Anonymous said...

This will be interesting to see how well these charter schools in West Charlotte draw. Would they draw the cream off the top of the existing students and thus lower the achievement capability of the existing students? Typically, charter schools draw the more serious students with the more active parental support. But that is jsut a general statement.

Anonymous said...

10 PM anon- We all know Smith Language is now refurbished office space for downtown rubbish.

Anonymous said...

No Data
No Peace

Anonymous said...

Break up CMS. 3 districts sounds about right.
If that cannot happen create 100 charters.

Anonymous said...

Break up the mess just as LIFT has done. Give the Souther District our tax dollars from state and county coffers and we are good. You will also get much better results as CMS is top heavy.

Anonymous said...

I just want to start by saying , aristotle academy is not a great choice. My children go there now!!! Staff will call you at on your job , at home a thousand times a day. I have a hand full of children n mine n others will not be attending any other charters again. I think the ideas are great , I dont know where they get these unprofessional teachers n directors. Need more LOVE IN SCHOOLS!!!!!!!!!!