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Three new Charlotte charter schools get state approval to open in 2023

Movement Schools
Movement School, a local chain that started with a school on Freedom Drive, got approval to open a fourth school in northwest Charlotte.

The North Carolina Board of Education on Thursday approved five new charter schools to open in 2023, with three of them in Charlotte.

The Charlotte region has been the center of charter school growth since the state lifted the cap in 2011, and this round of approvals was no exception.

All three of the Charlotte schools will open with the earliest grades, with plans to expand in coming years. And organizers of all three say they expect to serve mostly low-income families and/or students of color.

An expanding local chain

Movement School, a local charter chain that has aspirations to expand nationwide, was approved to open a fourth Charlotte school in the northwest part of the city. It plans to start with 250 kindergarteners and first-graders and is aimed at low-income families.

In five years organizers hope to have just over 500 students in grades K-5. The school also plans to offer on-site pre-K, transportation and federally subsidized meals.

An all-girls STEM school

GO BIG — short for Great Opportunities and Boundless Innovations for Girls — was approved to open as a girls school in southwest Charlotte. The focus will be on science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

GO BIG plans to serve 300 K-2 students in the first year, expanding to 900 in grades K-8. Organizers plan to offer an extended school day and a modified year-round calendar, opening in July 2023. They say they expect to serve disadvantaged students who may enter with low readiness.

A Spanish-English charter school

Honor Prep won approval to open with 130 kindergarten and first-graders in east/northeast Charlotte. Organizers say classes will be conducted in English and Spanish, and the school expects to attract a majority Latino student body.

The plan calls for Honor Prep to eventually be a K-5 school with about 550 students.

A growing role for charters

In Mecklenburg County and across the state, charter schools are seeing enrollment growth while school districts shrink or level off. That growth comes from new schools opening and existing ones adding grades.

Charter schools are publicly funded schools run by independent boards. They don't report to elected school boards, and they can take students from across county lines.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools budget for 2022-23 forecasts that charter enrollment will grow by more than 1,500 students in the coming school year, while CMS will add almost 600.

The other counties that had new charter schools approved for 2023 are Orange and Wake in the Raleigh area.

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Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.