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An in-depth look at our region's emerging economic, social, political and cultural identity.

NC Charter Schools Experience Rapid Growth

classroom desks

Charter schools in North Carolina have grown rapidly since the cap limiting them to 100 schools was lifted in 2011. According to the annual report on charters, nearly 110,000 students attend 184 charters in the state—that’s an enrollment increase of almost 200 percent.

Twenty-two additional charters are in the ready-to-open stage and 35 new applications were submitted last year. Five of those new applications came from Mecklenburg County.

Credit NC DPI
Demographics of NC charter schools

Some of the charter schools are doing poorly academically. Thirty-eight received state grades of D or F and 53 did not meet their growth targets.

In terms of diversity, about 55 percent of the students are white, 26 percent are African-American and 10 percent are Hispanic. Charter opponents have complained that the schools are not diverse enough and that most have enrollments that are either predominately black or white. The report does not give a breakdown of each school in terms of diversity.

It does show that 33 percent of the students qualify for free meals, nearly 4 percent are English Language Learners and 10 percent are students with disabilities.

Charter schools receive 6.5 percent of the state’s education budget—more than $580,000.