Wake Forest charters win final state approval, move forward with building plans

sbarr@newsobserver.comJanuary 11, 2014 

— The State Board of Education Thursday gave final approval to two charter schools in the Wake Forest area, a decision that will kick of a busy period of building, recruitment and enrollment plans.

Both Envision Science Academy and Wake Forest Charter Academy are slated to open in August and will eventually enroll students in kindergarten through eighth grades.

Envision plans to open in a temporary location in North Raleigh for its first two years. The building, located near the intersection of Strickland and Six Forks roads, is currently occupied by Endeavor Charter School.

Endeavor plans to move to a new building in Wake Forest before the start of the 2014-2015 school year.

Portia Scott, an Envision board member, said school officials had hoped to open immediately in Wake Forest but could not find a suitable location.

By making the decision to move into the Endeavor building, the board members know they will have a facility that is adequate for academics, at a cost they can afford, she said.

“It was imperative that we made sure we were in good standing going into our first and second years,” she said.

Scott said the board will continue to plan for a permanent facility.

“That’s an ongoing process,” she said.

Wake Forest Charter Academy, which will be managed by Michigan-based National Heritage Academies, plans to build a new facility in Wake Forest on Friendship Chapel Road near the Gateway Commons Shopping Center in time to open in fall 2014.

The town planning board Tuesday voted 5-1 to approve the site plan for the school. The town commissioners also must approve the plan, and could vote as soon as their Jan. 21 meeting.

Bob Hill, chair of the planning board, was the lone dissenting vote. He has expressed concerns about the flow of traffic into the school.

The Board of Education approved 24 other charter schools across the state along with Envision and Wake Forest. The group includes two others in Wake County: Cardinal Charter School and Dynamic Community Charter School.

Charter schools are public schools that are exempt from some of the regulations that traditional public schools must follow. Some are managed by for-profit companies.

The state Office of Charter Schools will recommend Monday which of the 71 charter schools that have applied to open in 2015 will move forward for further review. The applicants include eight in Wake County.

The flurry of charter activity this month occurs in the midst of a continuing debate about the value of the schools. Supporters say the schools give families more choices, while critics argue they harm traditional public schools.

T. Keung Hui contributed to this report.

Barr: 919-836-4952

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