Charter schools offer different experience than public schools

Feb. 04, 2014 @ 08:48 PM

Most local charter schools have started enrolling students.Vance Charter, the K-8 charter in Vance County, will accept applications through February.

Principal Sean Connolly said he doesn’t know how many openings there will be in any of the grades except kindergarten.

“There will be about 48 kindergarten spots available, if none of the students are retained,” he said.

He said they receive about 400 applications per year, with about 150 of those for kindergarten.

“Typically, in my experience, we admit about 70 kids a year,” Connolly said. “Sometimes people move so that creates an opening, but, as far as I can remember, it’s usually between 60 and 70 new students a year, mostly in kindergarten.”

Having fewer students per grade not only means less turnover, but it also benefits students.

“Because of the small classes, these kids get more individualized attention,” he said. “Once you get to 25 or 30 kids in a room, it’s not that the kids don’t learn; it just becomes more challenging for everybody.”

Though Vance Charter’s enrollment period has recently opened, Oxford Preparatory High School in Granville County began accepting applications in early January.

Oxford Prep Principal Andrew Swanner said the enrollment period will end Feb. 14.

“We will continue to accept applications after that, but it will be on a first-come, first-serve basis,” he said. “It is likely we will be enrolling students up to the beginning of the school year.”

The school can take up to 100 students in each grade. Oxford Prep, which opened this school year, has ninth grade but will add a new grade each year.

“We received a lot of interest for our ninth-grade seats but not as much in our 10th grade because it’s harder to transition to a new school,” Swanner said.

Unlike both Vance Charter and Oxford Prep, Henderson Collegiate typically accepts applications throughout the year.

“We try to ask people to get their applications in by the first Monday in April,” said Caitlin Dietrich, development director at Henderson Collegiate.

The school, which opened in 2010, currently offers grades four through seven, and next year eighth grade will be added.

Dietrich said the school can accept as many as 105 students to the fourth-grade class, but there are fewer slots available in the upper grades.

Last year, there were about 80 students on the waiting list, Dietrich said.

“We are working on purging our system this year, so I don’t know what the waiting list looks like today,” she said.

All three schools will have to hold a public lottery if they receive more applications than spots available.

Swanner said parents should do their research on the different schools because not all charters are the same.

“Whatever schools they are considering, they should ask about the school’s mission, staff and goals to see what is out there,” he said.

 

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.