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NC officials approved 12 new charter schools, all but three have asked for delays in opening

LA Johnson

North Carolina officials approved 12 new charter schools to open this August. But as of this week, all but three have asked for delays.

The number of charter schools surged after North Carolina lifted its 100-school limit in 2011. Today there are 210 charter schools with more than 145,000 students.

Charter Schools Director Ashley Baquero says demand is not fading.

"We continue to increase enrollment. We continue to increase the number of schools operating in the state. And wait-list data is showing an increase as well," she said.

But this week two schools that were initially slated to open in 2023 asked for a second delay. They were the eighth and ninth to say they can’t be ready by August. The main reason? Trouble finding a building.

"They’ve reviewed and visited approximately 15 properties in the Raleigh area: Apex, Cary, Morrisville and Holly Springs," said Nicky Niewinski of the Office of Charter Schools, describing the struggles of Nalanda Charter Academy.

GO BIG, an all-girls K-8 school approved for Mecklenburg County, also requested a delay. School leaders say they’re looking at two buildings in west Charlotte, but neither will be ready in time. And GO BIG board member Michelle White says parents are reluctant to apply without a site.

"The reason why we are requesting this additional delay year is so that we can lock down our location and be able to ramp up those recruitment efforts for the following year," she said.

The Charter Schools Review Board granted both delays, though there were concerns that budgets prepared as early as 2020 could be getting outdated. GO BIG and Nalanda now join 14 other charter schools that hope to open in 2025.