County won’t add charter schools in 2014

Jan. 09, 2014 @ 06:12 PM

The state Charter School Advisory Board this week approved 26 charter schools out of the 70 that applied to open in fall 2014, but five that were proposed for Guilford County failed to make the cut.
Of the five charter schools from Guilford County submitting applications, one would have been in High Point.
Robert J. Brown Leadership Academy, the proposed High Point charter school, applied for its charter for the 2013-14 school year and was denied. It also has applied for 2015-16 with four other Guilford schools and 70 other school statewide.
The mission of the school states that it would be “a catalyst for children and families who are at risk academically, socially, and economically by preparing them to be 21st Century leaders with strong problem-solving and decision-making skills.”
RJBLA would be located at the old 40,750 square-foot Brentwood School building located at 1400 Brentwood St. and owned by Williams Memorial CME Church.
Charter schools are public and mainly funded by local, state and federal dollars. The schools were started to provide more flexibility and options for students, parents and teachers.
Legislators removed the cap on charter schools in the state in 2011 and has seen an influx of requests since then. Last year, 67 charter schools applied to open this school year and 25 were approved. There are 127 charter schools in North Carolina.
Guilford County currently has seven charter schools including College Preparatory and Leadership Academy of High Point and Phoenix Academy in High Point.
Critics of charter schools say they siphon much-needed money away from public school systems and traditional public schools.
For each student that leaves Guilford County Schools to go to a charter school, the school system has to give $2,301.17 per pupil to charter schools.
GCS lost 513 students to charter schools at the start of this school year, which cost the school system nearly $1.2 million, in addition to state funding cuts. There are about 3,000 charter-school students in Guilford County.
“Since Guilford County is not a high-growth area, meaning we don’t have a lot of young families moving here, the number of students in the area isn’t growing rapidly,” said Nora Carr, GCS chief of staff, adding that public, private and charter schools basically are pulling from the same pool of students. “With more schools, resources will get spread more thinly.”
Carr said some argue that the school system having less money shouldn’t be that problematic because they have less students.
“In other states, it’s been shown that public schools end up serving a significant proportion of students that are struggling in some way,” she said. “We end up with more kids with more complex needs and less resources to meet those needs. The saddest part is that these schools don’t necessarily generate better outcomes for kids.”
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