LELAND—Change and growth greeted students at charter schools in Southeastern North Carolina.
The Roger Bacon Academy schools in Brunswick and Columbus counties started the new year with a record number of students and new curriculum. The new state standards combined with the school's own curriculum changes implemented last year sets the bar high.
Monday marked the beginning of week two for Kindergartners at Carter Day School in Leland and they were whizzing through the ABC's.
"It's a lot more grammar in the lower grades, they actually learn to classify sentences and the parts of speech," said teacher Stephanie Denton.
Parents said the higher level of learning and accountability attracted them to the school.
"I just looked at the scores in comparison with other counties and I saw that Charter Day School was excelling so I put my child here," said parent Danette Baggett.
Baggett is not alone. This year, the Roger Bacon Academy schools have a record number of students. Charter Day School has more than 900 students and Columbus Carter School has more than 700.
"We prepared by hiring new staff and figuring out what support staff we needed. We had to bring in a new office building last year, completely built Columbus Charter Schools, new middle school and office facilities. We projected we would have these numbers and so we planned accordingly,” said superintendent and Charter Day School Interim Headmaster Mark Cramer.
At the school in Leland, officials said they had nearly 300 applications but only 76 openings and it was the same situation in Columbus County. Officials said the new state law eliminating the cap on the number of charter schools in the state is going to help them fill the need.
"What the law allows us to do now is find the needs in different areas like Southport, Duplin or wherever that need might be and we can go in and put in a quality school that gives parents a choice," said Cramer.
The Roger Bacon Academy is looking to build another Kindergarten—eighth-grade charter school in downtown Wilmington. The State Board of Education is expected to discuss their application at their August meeting and make a final vote in September.