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What is a Charter School?

A public charter is a tuition-free public school that is independently operated and offers acceptance to any kid, and does not base it upon a school district.  The schools are normally smaller than the typical public school which allows more one-to-one time between students and  teachers. The average student to teacher ratio in the public school system in North Carolina is 15:1 (Public School Review 2022).

North Carolina is growing in the public charter school sector, with the goal of educational innovation since charters do not have to follow the rules of traditional learning. Parents and teachers need to be aware of the benefits of charter schools.


A public charter school has more freedom with how the school is run and what they base their curriculum on. Some base it upon college prep, music, religion, etc and add this knowledge into the basic core classes. They will also have different criteria to graduate depending on what the focus is at the school. For example, Ascend Leadership Academy located in Sanford NC is a digital media based charter school.  They also focus on project based learning, allowing students to use the digital techniques they've learned to create their products.  


Another example is Envision Science Academy located in Wake Forest has a curriculum based upon science.  They were even recognized as an NC Model STEM School of Distinction by the State Board of Education ( The school even has a garden with a student body known as the “Garden Squad” that helps keep it in order! ( ESA even has a spirit rock that was brought to the school by East Coast Towing that demonstrates “STEAM at Work”. (


Public Charter schools have been growing rapidly within the state of North Carolina, within the past couple of years. When the Charter School Act was passed in 1996, It allowed up to one hundred charter schools to be built in North Carolina (Public Schools First NC).  Between the years of 1997-1998, thirty-four of them had opened and by 2010 there were 99 charter schools (Public Schools First NC).  Knowing that they could not pass the one hundred school limit, the North Carolina Senate Bill eight to remove that limit was passed in August of 2011 (Public Schools First NC). This Bill also lowered the limits on enrollment increases, and removed the guard that Charter Schools could only enroll students within certain categories (Public Schools First NC).


After the North Carolina Senate Bill eight was passed there were 200 charter schools in North Carolina for the 2020-2021 school year (Public Schools First NC).  In 2012 forty-five thousand students were enrolled into charter schools.  Since then, enrollment has increased by 270 percent with there now being around 122 thousand students enrolled into charter schools (Public Schools First NC).  In 2017 it was implemented by the North Carolina General Statute 115C-281.40 that charter schools must provide transportation to all students enrolled (Public Schools First NC).  


Charter schools receive funding based on the number of enrollment and average daily attendance (CER).  With Charter schools being new and often being smaller than a regular public school, attendance and enrollment of students is even more crucial. Within the 2018-2019 school year only 69.4 percent of charter schools met or exceeded growth (Public Schools First NC).  North Carolina had set a target of seventy-five percent which meant that charter schools were lower than what North Carolina intended (Public Schools First NC).  They are now popping up all over the state.

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Cory DeAngelis

Click the video above to hear about Cory DeAngelis discussing the Charter School Law in NC.

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Get the Facts

Watch this video to learn about 6 of the biggest questions people have about charter schools.

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