Proposed Asheville Charter School Clears Major Hurdle

Jan 14, 2020

A proposed charter school in the city of Asheville cleared a major hurdle this week.  On Monday, the North Carolina Charter School Advisory Board recommended that PEAK Academy open in August of 2021.  The proposed charter school wants to focus on closing the achievement gap with African American and low-income students.

Asheville Citizen-Times education and social issues reporter Brian Gordon has been reporting on the story and joined BPR's Matt Bush in studio to discuss the PEAK Academy proposal.  You can hear their full interview above.

EXCERPTS OF INTERVIEW -

On how the PEAK Academy would be different than other charter schools in Buncombe County - "Currently, we have five charter schools in Buncombe County.  Four in the county school system, and one in Asheville city schools.  Most of those five charter schools are disproportianately white, and wealthier than the districts.  That's for two reasons, both of them structural.  Charter schools in North Carolina are not mandated to provide free lunch or free transportation.  That often means that families of means being able to apply to those schools and attend those schools.  Francine Delany, because it's an Asheville city school, it follows a federal desegregation order that allows it to have two lotteries to ensure that it is racially reflective of the district.  This school, PEAK Academy, is looking to go beyond Francine Delany and try to have 45% of its students black, whereas the overall (city school) district is 20%.  It also wants around 60% of its enrollment be from low-income families, where the district is closer to 35%.

What is the significance of Monday's recommendation by the North Carolina Charter School Advisory Board? - "That recommendation will go to the state board of education, which in March will make its final up/down vote on whether PEAK will arrive.  Someone from the Department of Public Instruction told me that a Charter School Advisory Board recommendation traditionally a very strong indicator whether the charter will be approved or not."