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home : news : news October 18, 2019

8/9/2019 4:03:00 AM
Jonathan Bryant, Chief Administrator, Lincoln Charter School

Wayne Howard
Staff Writer

As we at the Lincoln Herald are fond of saying, "this is NOT the 20th Century." We have posted with many of our articles in the invitation that follows the story, the statement that not having access to the internet in 2019 is like not having a radio in the 1940s or a tv in the 1960s. The world has changed.

One of the big areas of change is in education. When this reporter and most older readers were students, there was for most only one choice: the traditional public schools. For some in some locations there were religious schools and for those who were affluent, there were a few private schools; but for almost everyone else, the regular public schools were the source of education.

Now we have charter schools, religious schools, homeschooling sometimes including instruction from a 'virtual' charter school online. While the number of students in some regular school districts has been stagnant or in some cases has declined, more students every year are choosing (or their parents are choosing for them) one of the other options.

The Lincoln Herald is presenting this series--EDUCATION IN THE 21ST CENTURY--to highlight some of the options available, and to allow those who have chosen those options to tell more about why they think their choice is best.

During the next few weeks, we hope to hear from many of our readers about their reasons for choosing either the traditional public schools, charter school, homeschooling, a religious school or a non-religious private school. We welcome your opinions--on our articles and on education in the 21st Century.

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PART ONE: Lincoln Charter School

Charter schools in North Carolina came into being as the 20th Century was ending and the 21st about to begin. The first 34 charter schools in our state opened in 1997. Lincoln Charter School was one of them.

Charter schools are public schools--authorized by the State Board of Education and operated by independent non-profit boards of directors. State and local tax dollars are the primary funding sources for charter schools, which are required to have open enrollment and cannot legally discriminate in admissions, associate with any religion or religious group, or charge tuition. Charter schools operate with freedom from many of the regulations that govern traditional public schools.

Lincoln Charter School is the largest charter school in North Carolina. It operates on two campuses, one just west of Lincolnton and the other on Galway Lane off NC16-business in Denver.

We talked last week with Jonathan Bryant, Chief Administrator of Lincoln Charter School (VIDEO AT RIGHT).

Not only is Lincoln Charter School growing--expanding its Lincolnton campus, but the number of charter schools in the state is growing and quickly.

Westlake Charter School will begin operating this Fall in the Holy Spirit Catholic Church Activity Building on NC16-Business in Denver.

Original plans were for a permanent home for the school to be located off Triangle Circle, but later, another proposed site off Club Drive was chosen. If that site is to be used, it will require a change in zoning that must first be approved. A public hearing on the request will be held September 9th, but a community meeting at which plans were discussed showed the vast majority of residents of that area are vehemently opposed to the choice of location.

While all charter schools in North Carolina are operated by non-profit boards, they are sometimes run by management companies that are profit-making businesses. Westlake Academy will be operated by Charter Schools USA which currently manages over 80 schools in six states and has others opening this year and next.

Westlake Academy will begin operation with grades K-6, expanding to K-8 in its third year.

In Stanley, Community Charter will begin operation this year at the Community Pentecostal Center on Ralph Handsel Blvd. It will be moving into a new building next door next year and serving grades K-8.

Until 2012, the state had a cap on the maximum number of charter schools allowed (100). That was lifted in 2012. At that time, there were 45,000 students enrolled in charter schools. Currently, 184 charter schools, including two online/virtual charters, operate in North Carolina, serving approximately 110,000 children. Charter school students make up over 7% of the total student population for grades K-12 in the state.

An additional eight charter schools were approved by the State Board of Education to open in August 2019. During the 2018 application year, seven schools were granted a one-year delay in opening. Those 15 schools, once they open this month, will bring the state’s total number of charter schools to 199. 35 applications were received for the 2020-21 school year and are under review. If all are approved, that would bring the number of charter schools in North Carolina to 234.

Next in the series: Denver Christian Academy

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