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Meetings teach people how to open a public charter school

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DURHAM--For the first time this year, North Carolina has more than 100 public charter schools. Last summer, state lawmakers lifted the cap.

This year, there are 107 charter schools across the state, with a total of 45,000 students. About 40,000 students are on wait lists to get into a charter school.

“One of the challenges we have is filling the parental demand for charter schools with charter founders,” said Executive Director for the NC Public Charter Schools Association Eddie Goodall.

About a dozen people attended an informational meeting Monday in Durham to learn about what it takes to open a new public charter school. Mildred Brown is looking to make the move from being an administrator at a private school to starting a charter school.

“With a charter school, there's a little bit more flexibility in how to educate the children and what curriculum you use," said Brown.

However starting a new public charter school is no simple task. People have to apply for a charter to the State Board of Education and then undergo about a year of training.

“It's a lot of work, but it's doable,” said Brown.

According to Goodall, there are a few reasons as to why people would open a charter school.

“There's a lot of work involved. There's not a lot of pay, if any involved. It has to be people with a passion for creating something new, typically an entrepreneurial spirit,” said Goodall.

This year, the State Board of Education approved eight new charter schools and 25 new charter schools are in the works to open next year. Charter school start-ups don't receive public money to buy or build the actual school facilities. Operating costs are covered by a mixture of public and private funding.

Brown's dream for a public charter school is to provide families the best of both worlds from public and private education.

“By opening a charter school, we'll be able to deliver academics at a private level, but yet the children or parents will not have to pay,” said Brown.

The NC Public Charter Schools Association is hosting more meetings about how to start a public charter school. The next one is Oct. 11 in Charlotte. There's also one Oct. 22 in Greensboro. The NC Public Charter Schools Association is hosting more meetings about how to start a charter school. The next meeting is Oct. 11 in Charlotte. A meeting is also being held Oct. 22 in Greensboro. For more information, visit the Association's website.

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