Selected readings on US charter schools
RALEIGH — The State Board of Education on Thursday unanimously approved 11 new charter schools that are expected to open in the fall, including a school in Southeast Raleigh that aims to help minority students from low-income families succeed in high school and college.
Leaders of PAVE Southeast Raleigh Charter School say the charter hopes to work with the Wake County public school system in areas such as teacher development.
“We’re wide open to a positive interaction,” said J.B. Buxton, chairman of the PAVE board and an education consultant and adviser to former N.C. Gov. Mike Easley. “We want to be a piece of the puzzle.”
The new school will come to Wake as school system leaders seek the ability to approve their own charter schools.
Wake school board member Keith Sutton, who represents Southeast Raleigh, said there’s potential for the schools to collaborate. The overtures from PAVE and Wake’s interest in running charters both indicate charters are a growing part of the educational landscape.
“There’s a place for them,” Sutton said. “How we craft a way to work together is the question.”
Already, PAVE leaders have begun reaching out to families in Southeast Raleigh through information sessions at the Boys & Girls Club and in classes for adult English language learners.
Buxton said the school will provide free transportation for all students who need it, as well as free breakfast and lunch, which charter schools are not required to do.
“It’s meant to be accessible to all who need it without any barriers for families and kids,” he said.
The school expects to enroll predominately black and Hispanic students and to have a high percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals.
Test scores for low-income students in the area, as well as for black and Hispanic students, tend to be lower than those of their peers.
Charter schools receive public funding but are exempt from some of the regulations that traditional public schools must follow. Some critics say charters funnel resources away from traditional public schools.
The new school is modeled on PAVE Academy in Brooklyn, where officials say they’ve narrowed the racial achievement gap through a data-driven approach that focuses on small class sizes, teacher development and family involvement.
The Raleigh school will be the second in the PAVE network, which could grow to include four schools in North Carolina.
A nonprofit charter management organization called PAVE Charter Schools will help run the Southeast Raleigh school, including help with fundraising. That fundraising support is what has allowed the school to begin recruitment efforts as it awaited final approval, Buxton said.
PAVE expects to open with 120 kindergartners and first-graders, then grow to accommodate more than 500 students through eighth grade. The school has not yet signed a lease for space.
Jacqueline Jones, pastor at Ship of Zion church in Southeast Raleigh, recently joined the PAVE board. She said public and charter schools should work together in the area.
“I’m excited about the charter school coming,” she said. “It’s much needed in the neighborhood, so we can engage young people.”
The state board approved three other charter schools in the Triangle:
• Youngsville Academy, an elementary school in Franklin County.
• Excelsior Classical Academy, for kindergartners through high school in Durham County.
• KIPP Durham College Preparatory for students in fifth through eighth grades.