Mecklenburg County’s public school enrollment is expected to grow by roughly 3,200 students next year. And for every one that chooses Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the district expects five to pick charter schools.

That nugget, tucked into a budget report at Tuesday’s school board meeting, was overshadowed by more dramatic and controversial items. But charter school growth hovers over all the big CMS decisions from student assignment to school construction.

Lee Teague, a former Mecklenburg County resident recently named executive director of the N.C. Public Charter Schools Association, wrote an opinion piece that ran in the Winston-Salem Journal this week, calling for school districts and charter leaders to unite around common goals.

“Improving education is a goal we all share. Most studies show giving parents choices – like charters or magnet schools – help achieve that goal. Healthy competition means more choices,” Teague wrote. “But conventional school leaders need to see charters as allies toward a common goal – rather than unfair competitors – for the competition to be healthy.”