All Resources

How to Start and Fund Your Charter School in North Carolina

Grow Schools

August 10, 2021

FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmail
How ToStart And Fund Your Charter School In North Carolina

Whether you’re an educator, a passionate community member, or an entrepreneur looking to make a positive impact, starting a charter school can offer a unique opportunity to provide a nourishing learning environment to kids. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the essential steps of how to grow and fund a charter school in the state of North Carolina.

The History of Charter Schools in North Carolina

According to the NC Association of Public Charter Schools, North Carolina first enacted charter school law in 1996.

The purpose of the North Carolina charter school movement was as follows:

  • Improve student learning
  • Increase learning opportunities for all students, with special emphasis on expanded learning experiences for students who are identified as at risk of academic failure or academically gifted
  • Encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods
  • Create new professional opportunities for teachers, including the opportunities to be responsible for the learning program at the school site
  • Provide parents and students with expanded choices in the types of educational opportunities that are available within the public school system
  • Hold the schools established under this part accountable for meeting measurable student achievement results, and provide the schools with a method to change from rule-based to performance-based accountability systems.

A year after the birth of the North Carolina charter school movement, there were 27 charter schools. Charter schools in North Carolina experienced a setback that year: An amendment to the charter school laws gave local boards of education a say in new charter school proposals in their district. Still, by 2001 the state had reached its 100-charter school cap. At that point, the Charter School Advisory Board advised raising the cap by 10% each year. In 2011, the 100-school cap was removed.

North Carolina charter schools tend to have a specific educational area of focus. Schools are focusing on gifted students, athletics, military children, virtual teaching, and more.

Two points of controversy have long existed about charter schools in North Carolina: One of them, fueled largely by a 2006 study by Robert Bifulco and Helen Ladd, which reported that charter schools underperformed compared to district schools. Charter school leaders in North Carolina countered that charter schools tend to serve at-risk students, which explains the difference in test scores. The other concern has been racial imbalance: Since over one-third of all North Carolina charter school students are Black, some critics raised concerns over a trend of resegregation. Charter school leaders dismiss that claim, again emphasizing they serve at-risk students, often in financially disadvantaged neighborhoods, and these neighborhoods have a vast Black representation.

However, the consensus is that charter schools in North Carolina tend to have smaller class sizes, fewer discipline problems, and a better all-around learning environment.

Still, with charter schools being a heated political topic, acceptance has been mixed. According to a survey conducted by Reach NC Voices in 2019, 38% of North Carolinians support charter schools, 52% oppose them, and 10% neither support nor oppose them.

As of 2019, there were 188 charter schools in North Carolina, serving over 110,000 students (a bit over 7.3% of the total public school enrollment in the state).

Steps to Starting Your School

Two points of controversy have long existed about charter schools in North Carolina: One of them, fueled largely by a 2006 study by Robert Bifulco and Helen Ladd, which reported that charter schools underperformed compared to district schools. Charter school leaders in North Carolina countered that charter schools tend to serve at-risk students, which explains the difference in test scores. The other concern has been racial imbalance: Since over one-third of all North Carolina charter school students are Black, some critics raised concerns over a trend of resegregation. Charter school leaders dismiss that claim, again emphasizing they serve at-risk students, often in financially disadvantaged neighborhoods, and these neighborhoods have a vast Black representation.

However, the consensus is that charter schools in North Carolina tend to have smaller class sizes, fewer discipline problems, and a better all-around learning environment.

Still, with charter schools being a heated political topic, acceptance has been mixed. According to a survey conducted by Reach NC Voices in 2019, 38% of North Carolinians support charter schools, 52% oppose them, and 10% neither support nor oppose them.

Starting a school in North Carolina
Step 1: Research

Gather data on existing charter schools, public schools, and private schools in the region. This information will guide your planning and help you determine the viability of your charter school idea.

Step 2: Develop a Solid Business Plan

Outline your school’s mission, educational philosophy, and goals. Define your target student demographics and the unique approach you will take to meet their needs. Additionally, include detailed financial projections, outlining anticipated expenses and potential revenue sources. Your business plan will not only help you secure funding but also serve as a roadmap for the school’s growth and development.

Step 3: Navigate North Carolina’s Charter Application Process

In North Carolina, establishing a charter school requires approval from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI). Familiarize yourself with the state’s charter school application process. Be prepared to demonstrate how your school will fulfill a demand that existing public schools may not be meeting.

Step 4: Secure Funding

Funding is a critical aspect of launching and sustaining a charter school. North Carolina offers various funding sources, including state and federal grants, private donations, and fundraising efforts. Explore available funding opportunities and craft a compelling case for financial support based on your business plan’s projections and the unique value your charter school brings to the community.

Step 5: Build a Supportive Team

Assembling a strong and dedicated team is essential to the success of your charter school. Recruit qualified educators and administrators who align with your school’s mission and share your passion for education. Collaborate with community members, parents, and local organizations to garner support and build a network of advocates for your school.

Step 6: Prepare for School Opening

Once your charter is approved and funding secured, prepare for the exciting journey of opening your school! Focus on enrollment marketing and finding a school building that serves your mission.

With the right planning and a commitment to educational excellence, your charter school can positively impact the lives of countless students and families in North Carolina.

Need support?

We’re here to help! We can get you the money, resources, and know-how to create a thriving school. Get started here.

Want to share?
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmail