By Ian Faulkner, Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 27, 2013 —
There was a meeting Friday evening in the Locust Community Center for persons interested in establishing a charter school for elementary and middle school students in the western part of the county.
Parents, teachers and children were in attendance at this meeting organized by Kelly Wally and conducted by Norman George, who works at Creative School Development in Raleigh.
Wally and George had been in contact about establishing a chartered K-8 in the area; George had previously worked on establishing Queen’s Grant in Mint Hill, and Wally thought he would be a good contact to help with the process.
Wally’s two eldest children went to Gray Stone Day School, a charter school in the northern part of the county, and really enjoyed it. Wally was interested in having those opportunities in West Stanly.
“It seemed to be a good time to make something available. There was an interest and a desire,” Wally said.
She worked on it with some of her friends for more than a year before they met George.
Now, they’re looking at submitting an application some time this week.
George spent the majority of the meeting explaining what a charter school was, how it was different and the benefits to one.
A charter school is a public school with some flexibility as far as teaching is concerned. However, the same amount of money that county schools receive per pupil will go to a charter school if they have the students instead.
“The dollars will follow the child each year,” said George, whether the child be in traditional public school or a chartered one.
Charter schools work like any other business.
“The higher quality operations stay in business. They’ll close a charter school if they don’t do the right job. The parents have a lot of control,” he said.
George said that for the application process, in addition to a completed application, one had to turn in business and education plans.
If the state board gives approval, then one can get a charter, George said.
“As far as how they educate the students, that’s entirely up to the charter school. It doesn’t have to be the same education program as a contemporary public school,” he said.
He said that while the school will have the traditional core knowledge skills to cover, the group was in discussions about implementing a character development program for the charter school.
To that end, the group has partnered with Athlos Academies, a program that focuses on developing character through academics and athletics.
The Athlos program is about developing healthy habits, healthy living and maximizing a student’s physical abilities. They do this by focusing on the areas of leadership, self-discipline, teamwork, self-sacrifice and social intelligence.
George said the charter school could receive funding for its affiliation with the Athlos program.
While charter schools do receive state money, they do not get state funding for their facilities. George said he thought their affiliation with Athlos would help them obtain a facility to lease, complete with a gymnasium.
He added that they didn’t have a facility in mind, yet. The school could end up in Stanly or Cabarrus.
“The location doesn’t matter. Any student in the state of North Carolina can attend,” said George, adding that the school had to be in the county in which it had the charter.
George said it would initially be a K-6, and they would add in seventh and eighth grades over the succeeding years.
If everything goes according to plan, organizers will submit their application by March 1 and they should find out in September. If everything is met with approval, they’ll have until next summer to get everything opened. The school could be open for the fall semester 2014.
“This can be a very challenging process. We will keep trying, if needed,” George said.
He said he believed they had a solid curriculum and an innovative one with the Athlos program.
“We’re in an unusually good position,” George said.
For more information, contact Kelly Wally at (704) 888-8791.