A record number of applications to open new charters have been submitted to the North Carolina Office of Charter Schools. In total, the office received 61 proposals, the high number reflecting a recent repeal of charter school limits in the state. The Office of Charter Schools, which is a state body that oversees charter approval process and has supervisory authority to monitor the schools' progress, has responded to the sharp increase by expanding its staff by 50%. There are currently 100 charters under OoC's auspices, and the number is expected to grow dramatically in the coming years.
"Thirty-thousand students are currently on public charter waiting lists, so clearly parents are seeking new ways to educate their children in environments that meet their unique needs," said Darrell Allison, Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina president. "These high numbers of applications demonstrate that North Carolina charter school leaders saw the tremendous demand for quality educational options and responded to that call."
The submitted applications will now be reviewed by the North Carolina Public Charter School Advisory Council and the NC's Board of Education, and if the approval is granted, the schools will open their doors in the fall of 2013. The decisions on the current crop of contenders is expected in May.
According to a press release by the Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, there are 53 counties in the state that have no charter schools operating.
"Under the leadership of Director Joel Medley at the Office of Charter Schools, a process is now in place that helps ensure more successful and quality charter schools are approved," said Allison. "We applaud the efforts of the OCS to expand in order to help ensure that every existing school and every applicant has the resources they need to be successful."
"We are thrilled about the number of applications that have been received," Allison shared. "Our hope is that many of these applications will eventually provide a public charter school option for the many families who have sought such options."
In another first, earlier this year, the Board of Education issued an approval to the first online-only charter school in the state. The school, which is going to be operated by K12, Inc. plans to enroll 2,800 students in its first year of operation and it hopes to expand to 6,500 students from all over North Carolina within a few years.
If the school hits that target, it would look to receive more than $40 million a year in tax dollars.