RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. — More parents are making the switch from traditional public schools to charter schools across the state.
This fall 26 charter schools will open in North Carolina — the most to ever open in one year in the state.
The statewide growth is reflected in the growth of Uwharrie Charter Academy in Asheboro which nearly doubled in its number of students since opening last year.
More than 320 students go to the school which is the only charter school in Randolph County.
Next year, the school will add a 12th grade and need a lot more room. School officials are currently working on a plan to build a larger building in the county.
“We’re excited that people are looking for choice,” said Principal Heather Soja. “They like what they see, and they’re coming back each year.”
“People just want something different from the status quo,” she said.
Parents like Chad Douglas say smaller class sizes and year-round core classes are why he enrolled his daughter Chelsea in the school.
In the year she’s been a student, he’s noticed a difference in her appetite for learning.
“She read a bunch of books this summer on top of her required reading,” Douglas said.
From 2012 to 2013, 51 students that would have been enrolled with Randolph County Schools System enrolled in charter schools. The next year that number grew to 211, according to Randolph County School System Superintendent Dr. Stephen Gainey.
Gainey says more charter schools mean less money for public schools–which both use state dollars.
“In some ways, it’s troubling that public money is going different places in a time when we’re in tough budget times,” he said.
Gainey says the school district gets more than $5,000 in state and county funds per student, per year.
Money they lose, he said, when they lose students.
But Soja says there is no loss and that, in the end, students still win.
She says money from the state that doesn’t go to public schools follows the student to whichever charter school they are enrolled in.
“It’s just another opportunity,” Douglas said.