A new charter school centered around racial equity is still moving ahead with its plans to open next Fall 2021.
Asheville PEAK Academy quietly got its charter approved by the State Board of Education in March, just as cases of COVID-19 started to rise in the US. In the time since, it’s hired a principal and its lottery opened for interested families to apply.
It doesn’t have classrooms, teachers -- or even a building -- yet. But as of July, PEAK Academy does have a principal, officially called "school director." Raul Saldaña says he and the board are on track to open the school’s doors to K-2 grades next August. PEAK plans to add grades with each school year, eventually becoming a full K-8 school.
"We are trying to serve communities of color and inspire our students with culturally-relevant instruction," Saldaña said. "It's about meeting students where they are and getting them where they need to be."
One of the challenges will be recruiting teachers of color -- a major stumbling block for schools across the state. About half of North Carolina’s public school students are people of color, but about 80 percent of teachers are white. Saldaña says he’ll be recruiting both locally and out of state. He hopes to incentivize teachers with starting salaries around $52,000, moving stipends, and competitive benefits.
"It's going to be a conversation-starter," Saldaña said.
The jobs currently posted on PEAK’s website are for a literacy specialist and an office manager.
PEAK is hosting an information session on Zoom about its enrollment timeline Thurs., Oct. 15 at 7pm that can be accessed here.