In July, the Learning Center Charter School was awarded a NC ACCESS grant from the Office of Charter Schools under the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
NC ACCESS grants are part of the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Office of Charter Schools program, Advancing Charter Collaboration and Excellence for Student Success (ACCESS). One of the goals of the ACCESS Program is to create a cohort of 160 charter school leaders who can develop and demonstrate best practices in serving educationally disadvantaged students.
The funding for the grants comes from $36.6 million awarded to the state through the U.S. Department of Education’s “Expanding Opportunities Through Quality Charter Schools Program.” The overall purpose of the program is to enable states to award sub grants to eligible applicants to expand opportunities for disadvantaged students at current charters and by opening new high-quality charter schools.
“These funds will go directly to expand opportunities for low-income students to attend high-performing charter schools,” said Alex Quigley, chairman of the state’s Charter School Advisory Board in a statement. “Too often in our country, school choice has been limited to those that have the means to buy a house in a wealthy zip code or send their children to private school. The ACCESS Program will increase equity by expanding educational options for parents regardless of their race or income.”
Charter schools differ from their traditional counterparts by being operated by independent non-profits and their boards, which grants the school flexibility in curriculum and budgetary areas. Public charters in North Carolina do get public dollars. Public charter schools do not charge tuition. Public charters do not discriminate in admissions. Unlike district schools, charters are required to hold a lottery for seats when and if there are more students applying than seats available. Charter schools are also held accountable for financial management and academic performance.
“We are pleased to have received $700,000 in grant funding to help remove barriers for educationally and economically disadvantaged students in our region. These funds will provide bus transportation, bring in contracted staff to increase school performance, and allow us to increase the quality of all the programs and offerings that serve our diverse population of learners and families in the surrounding Cherokee, Clay, and Graham counties,” said Ryan Bender, head of the Learning Center.