Academic Growth Award

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The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has awarded The Learning Center Charter School their Academic Growth Award for 2016-2017.  This is it’s first year presenting awards for achieving and exceeding expected academic growth.

Academic growth refers to academic progress made over a period of time.

Academic growth represents an impressive amount of hard work by students and educators and our school is proud of this recognition!

What exactly is a charter school anyway?

(This post originally appeared on August 30, 2010.  However, it bears repeating now and again.  Be sure to be up to date on all things happening in charter law both in our state and across the nation.  How?  Use the category drop down menu located in the side bar on the right and choose “Charter School Updates” to see all posts relating to the subject.)

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How many of you have been at a summer cookout and have been asked, “I know your kid goes to the charter school over there down from the pool.  What exactly is a charter school anyway?”  How about at Thanksgiving dinner when all your distant relatives are together?  Doesn’t someone invariably ask you to tell them what makes a charter school different from other schools?  I’ve even been asked by the check-out person at the grocery store when they see my kid’s school t-shirt.

So, what do you tell them?

Wikipedia says that,

A charter school is a school that receives public money (and like other schools, may also receive private donations) but are not subject to some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each school’s charter.  Charter schools are opened and attended by choice.  While charter schools provide an alternative to other public schools, they are part of the public education system and are not allowed to charge tuition.

Alright.

Um.  Well.  Okay.

What are you going to tell Great Uncle Earl when he asks what a charter school is at your next holiday get together?

A charter school is a public school of choice. It is public.  Public means no tuition.  In other words, it’s free.  And, you choose to go there.

A charter school offers innovation in education. A charter school has to meet the same state academic standards that every other school has to meet.  However, the school itself decides how it’s going to achieve those standards.

Now you know.

So go forth and educate the world.  Or at least your immediate community

Charter School Joins Advocates Across the Country for National School Choice Week

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Local Charter school, The Learning Center!, joined 2.9 million charter school students nationwide last week in support of National School Choice Week.

Held every January, National School Choice Week focuses on increasing public awareness and empowering parents with the freedom to choose the best educational environments for their children. These options include traditional public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, online learning, private schools, and homeschooling.

The Learning Center! celebrated National School Choice Week on January 22-28, with an on-campus campaign of awareness that included increased social media presence, placing posters around the school, and distributing bright yellow School Choice Week scarves and stickers. “This campaign has sparked many questions about National School Choice week,” said school director, Mary Jo Dyre. “School choice is the movement that offers charter schools as a viable option in education. We are a North Carolina Public School Choice opportunity for education and parents who are seeking a choice for their students’ academic needs have said YES to choosing our school.”

The Learning Center! is among many school choice advocates paying close attention to the annual event. “With more than 21,392 events across the nation in 2017, National School Choice Week is now the world’s largest annual education-related celebration,” said Dana Bolyard, Social Media Director and Charter School Advocate for The Learning Center. “And with School Choice, more parents have the opportunity to choose motivating, challenging, and effective educational environments for their children than ever before.” The school was awarded a School Choice Leadership award last week in recognition of its dedication to providing all children with access to effective education options and it’s participation in the 2017 National School Choice Week.

Started in 2011, National School Choice Week is a nonpartisan, nonpolitical public awareness effort. Advocates for school choice believe that education is not “one size fits all” because not all children learn the same and therefore every child, and their parents, should have the opportunity to choose the best education to suit their needs.

The Learning Center! was one of the first of 34 charter schools to open its doors in 1997 when charter legislation was passed in North Carolina.

Facilities Improvements Continue at Charter School

 

2As the dust settled just in time for the start of the new school year, The Learning Center! Charter School completed another building improvement project. The  newly renovated Dining Commons got a facelift inside and out that students, faculty and parents will enjoy for years to come. The school added a new first aid station to the list of upgrades for the improvement project. Last year, the school completed the construction of a “Gymnatorium” that includes two P.E. workout areas and a stage for drama events. 20160808_075401The school contracted with Denny Laney for the exterior renovation and worked with several others to complete interior work on the Dining Commons. The renovation project began almost as soon as the school year ended in May. The final touches were complete just days before the start of the new school year. Laney Construction Company replaced the roof and Tom Miller did the drywall work. The school’s maintenance team, Bill Brechbill and John Lloyd also helped with the renovations.

TLC Welcomes New Board Member

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The Learning Center! Charter School welcomes new school board member, Anna Ramirez Sharp for the 2016-2017 school year. Sharp has been elected to a three-year term on the Board of Directors of The Learning Center! Charter School in Murphy.

Sharp and her husband, Bob, moved to Murphy in 2008 after working more than 30 years as an educator and educational consultant in Texas. She is bilingual and her professional experiences include serving as an instructional specialist in special education, assistant elementary principal, a facilitator for staff development, instructional intern, personnel recruiter, educational diagnostician, early childhood special education teacher and speech therapist.

Sharp earned a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Pan American University in Edinburg, Texas and a master of science from Texas A & M

University in Kingsville, Texas. She also holds professional certifications in mid-management, speech-language pathology, early childhood education-handicapped, language and/or learning disabilities, mentally retarded, educational diagnostician and kindergarten.

Sharp and her husband are volunteers for Big Brothers Big Sisters organization of Cherokee County and other community activities in and around Murphy.

“We welcome our newest highly motivated and credentialed community servant to our school board,” said board chairwoman, Cecilia Crawford. “Without the Board’s support and time volunteering to our school, we would not be able to have the exceptional instructional program that we have today.”

The Learning Center! is a tuition-free public charter school that operates independently from the local school district. The school itself is considered a school district and thus reports to a board of directors much the same way that traditional public schools work with and report to their boards. In addition, charter school’s accept students across county lines.

For more information call 828.835.7240 or visit naturallygrownkids.org. Visit the blog (tlcgrowzone.org/blog) and FaceBook page (facebook.com/TLCGrowZonePage).

What exactly is a charter school anyway?

(This post originally appeared on August 30, 2010.  However, it bears repeating now and again.  Be sure to be up to date on all things happening in charter law both in our state and across the nation.  How?  Use the category drop down menu located in the side bar on the right and choose “Charter School Updates” to see all posts relating to the subject.)

mural

How many of you have been at a summer cookout and have been asked, “I know your kid goes to the charter school over there down from the pool.  What exactly is a charter school anyway?”  How about at Thanksgiving dinner when all your distant relatives are together?  Doesn’t someone invariably ask you to tell them what makes a charter school different from other schools?  I’ve even been asked by the check-out person at the grocery store when they see my kid’s school t-shirt.

So, what do you tell them?

Wikipedia says that,

a charter school is a school that receives public money (and like other schools, may also receive private donations) but are not subject to some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each school’s charter.  Charter schools are opened and attended by choice.  While charter schools provide an alternative to other public schools, they are part of the public education system and are not allowed to charge tuition.

Alright.

Um.  Well.  Okay.

What are you going to tell Great Uncle Earl when he asks what a charter school is at your next holiday get together?

A charter school is a public school of choice. It is public.  Public means no tuition.  In other words, it’s free.  And, you choose to go there.

A charter school offers innovation in education. A charter school has to meet the same state academic standards that every other school has to meet.  However, the school itself decides how it’s going to achieve those standards.

Now you know.

So go forth and educate the world.  Or at least your immediate community

The Learning Center! Offers Rich Program Across All Districts

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The Learning Center! Charter School continues to break ground with innovations that present parents and their students with high-quality offerings in 21st century education. Ambitious facility improvements designed for rich academic opportunities continue to take place on this “future-ready” campus.

The Learning Center! offers an E-STEAM (Entrepreneurship, Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts/Agriculture, and Math) learning environment. The school’s education philosophy includes the belief that all young learners have the right to experience a broad, rich, and rigorous range of academics during the formative K-8 years. Additionally, the school offers an award-winning nutrition program, daily P.E., unique electives and extra-curricular opportunities. The school’s emphasis on healthy living, community involvement and high academic standards is designed to produce future-ready citizens. This tuition-free public charter school (K-8th) has NO district restrictions and accepts students across all counties.

Director Mary Jo Dyre is particularly proud to announce a Kindergarten Montessori Blend Program. “We have had such consistent, strong success with the feeder Montessori Program that is located on our school campus, that we wanted to continue the Montessori Method into Kindergarten, which we believe works best for young learners.”

Learning Center’s “Above and Beyond” programs include Compacted Math Classes for gifted students, “MusicFriday” guest musicians program, K-5 chorus, links to a variety of instrument lessons, the opportunity to audition as a GrowZone Player in the school’s drama program, and upper-grades electives.

More extras including National Honor Society, Odyssey of the Mind teams, “Academics and the Arts” artists-in-residency program, “Mini and Middle REAL” young entrepreneur program, upper-grades electives program, Writers Club, “Girls on the Run” and “Girls on Track” provide students with the possibility to become all that they can be.

Designated as a “USDA Healthier U.S. School” (Silver Level), the school places a strong emphasis on its nutrition and exercise programs. Last year, the school built a new Gymnatorium and “Makers’ Space.” The 4,500 square foot building serves as a half court gym as well as useful space for assemblies, drama performances and more.

The Learning Center serves approximately 200 students and is open to both in and out-of-county students. There isno tuition for grades K through 8th. The school also features a Montessori private preschool serving ages 3-5 years. After School programs are available for all ages. Summer Enrichment Programs such as “Inventors Boot camp” and Intervention programs are also offered.

For more information or to schedule a tour, call 828.835.7240. Visit www.naturallygrownkids.org, their blog (tlcgrowzone.org/blog) and FaceBook page (facebook.com/TLCGrowZonePage).

Charter School Legislative Update

Attached below is information and a call to action from the North Carolina Public Charter Schools Association.  It is to inform you of the legislative agenda the organization has for the upcoming year.  The Learning Center Charter School’s sole intent is to provide our school community with information about what is happening politically in our state regarding charter school law.  We solely seek to inform.

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LEGISLATIVE ALERT!

 

Action items:

 

1. Please support your agenda below and let your legislators know about these needed items before January 14!

 

2. Please ask Governor McCrory to make public charter school knowledgeable and friendly appointments to the State Board of Education since he has three (3)to make between now and March 31. See the three at the bottom of this page.

 

 

2015-2016 Charter Schools Legislative Agenda

The NC Public Charter Schools Association (Association) is a partnership of charter schools, employees, volunteers, educators, policy-makers, legislators, businesses, and public supporters who believe that choice, collaboration and positive competition, using high quality public charter schools, are due the parents and children of North Carolina and represent good public policy!

We are the state’s largest and leading charter advocate, with full time services providing education, legislative oversight, school services, training workshops and conferences, communications forums, and leveraging the sector’s buying power working with our business partners.

The Association is a not for profit, non partisan organization based in Charlotte, North Carolina, with a mission of helping grow and sustain high quality public charter schools that nourish North Carolina’s children and enrich their families.

Guiding Principles behind legislative agenda

*     The Association recognizes the fundamental need for an effective provision of education by the public and for the public, and that the implementation and support of public charter schools is a highly desirable part of that provision.

*     The Association opposes any legislation that may redefine public charter schools by removing the critical elements of choice, accountability, and autonomy.

Methodology behind formulation of legislative agenda

The Association held three announced roundtable meetings to assess the legislative agenda for 2015, attended by about 50 charter heads of schools or designees. These were October 27, November 5 and 12, at Triangle Math & Science (Triangle), North Carolina Leadership Academy (Triad), and Langtree Charter (Charlotte region), respectively. All the legislative ideas (43) that were supported by the majority present at the meetings were listed on a survey and sent to all charter schools and the meeting attendees. The survey asked for a rating of 1 to 10 for each issue, with a 10 being of the highest importance. Of the 43 issues surveyed, the top 25 were listed in the order ranked and integrated into the agenda following. The 15-member Association Board of Advisors then voted to accept the list with zero “No” votes.

Thus, there is broad public charter school support for this agenda.

Legislative Agenda

While there is overlap among the items, our agenda encompasses the three “Rs”,

1.     Relief with funding,

2.     Relief with facilities, and

3.     Relief with the administrative and regulatory burden.

Relief with Funding

While we are used to doing more with less, we nevertheless have concerns about federal, state, and local funds that are not being shared fairly with our schools. A May, 2014, University ofArkansas study found that NC charters annually receive an average of $1,722 less per student than district schools. In addition to revenue, we have included measures involving our costs of operating.

Review and amend the statutes regarding charter state and local funding, including the equitable inclusion of items in the “Current Expense Fund,” to ensure that taxpayer money does indeed follow the child.

Remove barriers to obtaining grants that arise as a result of charters’ status versus LEAs.

Modify the ADM headcount calculation to more fairly determine student enrollment for funding purposes.

Review the overall structure of charter funding including the flow of funds among the counties, the LEAs, the state, and the charter schools.

Reform revenue funding for Exceptional Students to make more proportional to cost of services and recognize the disproportional burden on charters attracting this population.

Allow for charters to charge usual and customary fees, such as athletic participation fees, when their respective LEA could charge such fees.

Assist charters with grant funding including start-up federal CSP grants for new charters.

Remove the ill-conceived $50,000 “dissolution” escrow.

Eliminate (and refund) the charter renewal $1,000 fee. We should reward our volunteer charter boards for their dedication, not charge them for it.

Accelerate a reasonable portion of the state projected ADM allotment to a new charter after SBE final approval but months before school opening.

Allow for charter and charter support organization funding by municipalities and counties.

Relief with Facilities

The funding deficit mentioned above would equate to about $860,000 a year for an average 500 student NC charter. The largest majority of that deficit lies in the fact that our charters do not get money for facilities. An unintended consequence of this is that it impacts academic performance due to the attention and resources facilities demand.

Provide for a per-pupil state facilities revenue allotment to partially offset the facilities funding gap.

Share education lottery capital funds with charters.

Provide for more time between the charter final approval and/or the granting of a charter contract, and the opening of new charters to allow for a reasonable and prudent progression of facilities acquisition and access.

Remove artificial barriers to facilities access such as those that may exist in permitting and slow assistance from governmental agencies such as DOT.

Relief with Administrative & Regulatory Burden, and other

While the NC charter “Operations” statute says, “a charter school is exempt from statutes and rules applicable to a local board of education,” there have been, over time, mounds of reports and regulations arbitrarily applied to charters. We believe that the intent of this language, along with the law’s verbiage directing the schools not to be a non-governmental unit, but instead, a “nonprofit corporation,” clearly suggests that the goal was to free the new entities of unnecessary paperwork and regulations, increasing their odds of accomplishing the six charter school “purposes” found in the statutes. A 2014 Association survey revealed that charter heads of school spend 68% of their time on non-instructional administration.

Create a study of all reports and policies applied to charters, written or unwritten and outside the NC General Statutes, to ascertain that they are necessary and carry out the purposes of the charter statutes, without unreasonably burdening the small administrative staffs of charter schools.

Do not place any more stringent requirements regarding transportation and meals than currently exist.

Improve DPI support to charters for PowerSchool, plus access to the NCEdJobs applicant pool and Human Resource Management System.

Replace or adjust the 60% Performance Composite requirement and redesign an “academic floor” using a more extensive emphasis on academic growth, or educational value added, over proficiency.

Ensure more charter school representation on education related appointive committees.

Modify or delay the “School Performance Grades” that measure school academic performance based on the “indicators available” when new charters will be mischaracterized due to not having many of the indicators.

Increase the supply of science and math educators.

Enhance new charter schools authorization:  provide for greater ability of the applicant to explain the application in person,  install an independent appeals process for applicants denied, award final approval and the charter contract earlier, place more emphasis on the substance of the applications versus the form, and implement a formal public hearing portion of advisory board meetings to increase transparency and board accountability.

We have not included some very significant charter issues such as replication, virtual charters, and multiple authorizers, in this agenda since we did not have significant discussion in our meetings. Nevertheless, these issues are important to us and we would be happy to be part of legislative debate thereon.

Please be aware that behind each item included herein there either exists or can be created, information supporting the need, reference to specific statutes or policies, anecdotal and statistical information, and talking points for the item. We will also be happy to provide school personnel to address questions personally and/or our lobbyists to appear before any legislative body.

Please do not hesitate to request our support to help with this information for you.

Respectfully,

The Board of Advisors, NCPCSA

Carroll Reed, Southern Wake Academy

Cynthia McQueen, Torchlight Academy

Dave Machado, Lincoln Charter

Eugene Slocum, Alpha Academy

Heather Soja, Uwharrie Charter

Jennifer Lucas, Voyager Academy

John Eldridge, Chatham Charter

Kirby McCrary, Millennium Charter

Antoinette Ellison, INVEST Collegiate

Natalie Brozy, Roxboro Community

Rudy Swofford, Summerfield Charter Academy

Simon Johnson, Quality Education

Steve McAdams, Endeavor

Tom McCarthy, Arapahoe Charter

Executive Director, Eddie Goodall

Governmental Relations Consultant, Jim Stegall

Director of Operations, Aletha Buck

Public Relations Director, Lee Teague

Director of School Support, Mary Catherine Sauer

 

info@ncpubliccharters.org

eddie@ncpubliccharters.org