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Charter Board Recommends 9 For-Profit Schools; Overall, 18 Charters Get OK

Charter_Advisory_Board.jpg
Lisa Worf
/
WFAE

Another 18 charter schools may open in North Carolina soon.  Half of them are planned for Mecklenburg and surrounding counties. They’re the recommendations of the charter advisory board.

The list includes nine schools run by for-profit companies The advisory board took some heat from lawmakers last year for only recommending 11 schools overall.

Senate Education Committee Co-Chairman Jerry Tillman was not impressed with the board’s decision last year, in part because it's recommendations only included one for-profit school. In a 2014 committee meeting, he made his feelings clear to the head of the state’s Office of Charter Schools.

“I want to see a systemic change. You’ve been in there a little while. You’ve got some great people who can do that job, I believe,” said Tillman. “If not, we’ll look at those options in the long session.”

Those options include gutting the board and replacing it with another one.  That’s what lawmakers did the previous year. 

“I personally do not feel pressure,” says Helen Nance, the chairwoman of the charter advisory board. 

She says the board looked at the schools carefully and decided 18 out of 40of them had good applications.  The board had turned down several of those schools last year, but she said they listened to the board’s concerns and came back with better applications.  Still, she’s not completely sold. 

“I just think some schools are stronger than others,” says says. 

Nance wouldn’t elaborate, but there are a couple schools that had close votes like Charlotte Classical School. Some board members had concerns about enrollment and curriculum. Town Center Charter School planned for Gaston County is another one.  The school is for students at risk of dropping out and those who already have. It would be run by the for-profit company Accelerated Learning Solutions, which manages a similar school in Charlotte. 

Nine of the 18 charters the board recommended this year are run by for-profit companies. Senator Tillman had sharp words for the board last year after it only recommended one such school.

The state board of education will vote on those schools in June.  They usually follow the advisory board’s recommendations. All but one of the 18 are planned to open fall of 2016.