Charlotte's charter school surge slows as state tightens scrutiny for 2017

The surge of charter schools in Charlotte and across North Carolina will slow in 2017, as the state Board of Education Thursday rejected several applications that members feared could end in school failure.


The result: Only eight of 28 charter school applications for 2017-18 won approval, including two in Mecklenburg County and one just across the river in Gaston County. That will bring about 1,200 new seats for students in the Charlotte region, fewer than the area has seen in recent years.


If all goes as planned in the coming year, as the approved schools find buildings, hire staff and recruit students, Charlotte will have a new “quasi-military” school and a westside replica of the the highly regarded Sugar Creek Charter School. And the Charter Schools USA chain, which already operates several schools in the region, will add one in the Belmont-Mount Holly area.


Alex Quigley of Durham, a charter school leader who chairs the advisory board, said he wasn’t sold on some of the applications that won the endorsement of his board. He said he believes it’s “very important that we have a high bar” in exchange for risking millions of dollars of public money.


“This appears to be a major change in state policy,” said Lee Teague, executive director of the N.C. Public Charter Schools Association. He said if the Board of Education overrides the advisory board’s recommendations it should give applicants a hearing.


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