North Carolina has received notices from 170 groups that want to open charter schools in 2015.  Forty-three of those schools are planned for Mecklenburg and 18 more for neighboring counties.  Two years ago, the state lifted its cap on charter schools.  This year 156 groups said they planned to apply, but only 70 ended up submitting applications and ultimately just 26 were approved.

Lisa Miller

Teachers in North Carolina now have until May to complete their master’s and still receive a 10 percent pay increase.  State lawmakers eliminated that automatic salary bump starting next school year.  The state board of education Thursday extended the cutoff date from April to May, so that teachers can use the spring semester to complete their degrees. 

A bill that creates a new board to oversee charter schools is moving forward.  The Senate Education Committee approved it Wednesday.    

Senator Jerry Tillman of Randolph County wants to create a new board specifically to monitor charter schools and vet applications for new ones. 

North Carolina has 107 charter schools and dozens more are looking to open in the next couple of years.  State lawmakers today are considering a bill that would change the application process and oversight of these schools.     

A prominent critic of charter schools, standardized testing, and private influence on education spoke at UNC Charlotte Wednesday evening. UNCC paid Diane Ravitch $20,000 to appear at the campus’ McKnight Auditorium in front of about 100 teachers, students, and community activists.

The number of applications to open charter schools has jumped significantly since the charter school cap was lifted in 2011.  There used to be a couple dozen applications per year.  This year 156 groups plan to apply and that means a whole lot of work for the people who review them. 

Joel Medley is in charge of the office that oversees all of the state’s charter schools.  This year, he expected to hear from a lot of groups wanting to open schools, but not quite this many. 

The state advisory council which monitors charter schools has decided to give Kennedy Charter in south Charlotte another chance, despite the school’s low test scores.  That decision hinges on a plan to move the school to the campus of Johnson C. Smith University. 

Every few years, charter schools in North Carolina have to go before a group of charter school administrators, board members, and educators.  They have to make their case for why they should be allowed to continue to operate. 

This is the second in a two-part series that takes a closer look at the charter school movement.

North Carolina will soon see a rush of charter schools opening.  Last year, state lawmakers lifted the cap that only allowed 100 schools.  Twenty-five more charter schools are scheduled to open next year.  But this year, for the first time, the state closed a charter school for academic reasons.  

That school was Highland Charter, an elementary school in Gastonia.  Kids there failed to make the grade on end-of-year tests two years in a row.