State board OKs plans for proposed charter school in Cary

aspecht@newsobserver.com aramos@newsobserver.comJanuary 15, 2014 

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    Cardinal Charter Academy will begin accepting enrollment applications Feb.1 at www.cardinalcharter.org. The school will host information sessions at 6 p.m. Feb. 6, Feb. 20 and Feb. 25 at the Cary Senior Center, 120 Maury Odell Place.

— A new charter school is coming to Cary, while plans for a charter school in Morrisville have hit a snag.

The state Board of Education approved plans this month for Cardinal Charter Academy, which will open this fall near the intersection of Harrison Avenue and NE Maynard Road. The school will serve 661 students in kindergarten through sixth grade, then add subsequent grades each coming year.

Meanwhile, the new Charter School Advisory Board has rejected plans for Kaleidoscope Art & Technology Charter High School, which would have been the first public high school in Morrisville. The school had hoped to open in 2015, but its charter application was ruled incomplete.

Cary currently has one charter school, Triangle Math and Science Academy in the southwestern part of town.

“Cary is under-served by charter schools,” Allen Taylor, chairman of the board for Cardinal Charter Academy, said in an email.

Cardinal Charter, part of Florida-based Charter Schools USA Inc., will focus on creating personalized learning plans for each student, Taylor said. 

“Additionally, parental involvement is a crucial part of the child’s development. Parents volunteer 20 hours per student per year,” he said. “We also have a very active parent communication system that allows real-time monitoring of a student’s progress.”

Charter schools are public schools that get public funding, but they are exempt from some of the regulations that traditional public schools must follow.

Kaleidoscope had hoped to take a non-traditional approach, starting classes at 10 a.m. after one hour of physical education. The school’s curriculum would focus on art and technology such as animation, robotics and graphic design. It would have a Montessori theme and serve up to 400 students.

Kaleidoscope was one of nine schools that won’t get further review for now.

The advisory board, which was appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and the General Assembly, said Monday that 62 of 71 applications from potential charter schools had complete applications. Six of those are in Wake County, mostly in North Raleigh. The group will recommend to the State Board of Education which charter schools should open in 2015.

Although the advisory board rejected the plans, Kaleidoscope’s organizers aren’t giving up.

They will review the application and re-submit it in the fall, said Lara Visser, Kaleidoscope’s founder. The application was missing an appendix about high school core content and electives and an appendix on employment policies, according to documents.

“Everything will stay the same as far as conception,” Visser said. “We hope and pray the next time we will make it through.”

While Visser remains optimistic, the board’s decision was tough to take.

“I cried, about three cups worth,” Visser said. “This is a passion of mine. It’s not just a job, it’s a dream.”

Triangle Math and Science Academy

Triangle Math and Science Academy, a charter school that opened in downtown Raleigh in 2012 and moved to southwest Cary last fall, has had more applicants than it can accept.

More than 1,000 students applied for 70 spots this school year, said acting principal Necmettin Yasar. The school now has 358 students in kindergarten through seventh grade.

About 670 students have already applied for next school year, he said.

Yasar said he expects more charter schools will want to set up in western Wake County, partly due to its proximity to Research Triangle Park. The area attracts many families who work in the technology field.

“I guess they are looking for a school that will offer a challenge in terms of math, science, technology,” Yasar said.

Parents are also attracted to the small classes at Triangle Math and Science, said math teacher Allison Thomas. The school allows no more than 22 students per classroom.

“We’re not like other schools where the ‘cool kids’ hang out in the hallway,” Thomas said. “It’s cool to be a nerd at this school. We embrace it. We encourage each other to do better.”

About 53 percent of the school’s population is Asian-American, Yasar said. Students come from homes where 27 different languages are spoken.

The area continues to grow, Yasar said, and charter schools could play a role in keeping up.

“(Regular) schools are not meeting that demand right now,” he said.

Staff writer Sarah Nagem contributed to this report.

 

Specht: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @AndySpecht

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