New charter school will be located between Shallotte, Southport

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By Sam Hickman

 A Roger Bacon Academy charter school that was approved in January will be located at an interim site between Supply and Southport when its doors open in August.

During its first year of existence, South Brunswick Charter School will be at 4128 Vanessa Drive in Southport, near the Cape Fear Regional Jetport, Roger Bacon Academy spokeswoman Sawyer Batten said.

South Brunswick Charter secured an option to purchase a 45-acre wooded site for its permanent campus on Sunset Harbor Road one mile south of N.C. 211, Charter Day School Inc. Chairman John Ferrante announced at its regular board meeting April 24. Roger Bacon Academy has also leased a suite of new classrooms for its first year of operation while procurement and construction is completed at the permanent site, Batten wrote in a news release.

While the school is being built, South Brunswick Charter will open in August at a temporary site off Long Beach Road between Southport and Oak Island.

The interim site is in the South Harbor professional center, behind Jumpin’ Java Coffee and across from the jetport. There is an office and classroom space, as well as playground space and access for parents to drop off and pick up their children.  

“This location will be a fantastic home for SBCS while plans for the permanent site are being finalized,” Batten said.

The state board approved 26 new charters across the Tar Heel State in January, including the South Brunswick Charter.

“With over a hundred students already enrolled, we look forward to a very successful year.  We will replicate our sister schools in Leland and Whiteville which are Brunswick and Columbus County leaders in academics. The foundation is laid in these early grades for future academic success, and that is where our focus will be,” Headmaster Michelle Mena said. “We anticipate completing the purchase of the campus and beginning construction this summer.”

The opening of South Brunswick Charter means there will be 155 charter schools in 57 counties across the state during the 2014-15 school year.

South Brunswick Charter will open in August to children in kindergarten through second grades and add one grade each year up to fifth.

Roger Bacon Academy sent an application to the Department of Public Instruction in March 2013 to seek approval for the new school. The academy also oversees Charter Day School in Leland, Columbus Charter School in Whiteville and Douglass Academy in Wilmington.

Douglass Academy in Wilmington has only 33 students enrolled, fewer than the state-mandated 65 students. In March, the advisory board unanimously voted to grant the school an enrollment waiver for the rest of the school year. Douglass Academy must have at least 65 students enrolled within the first 40 days of the 2014-15 school year.

The advisory board’s recommendation will now go before the state Board of Education in April, with a formal decision likely coming in May.

State lawmakers removed the cap on charter schools, which was set at 100, two years ago.

South Brunswick Charter School is a tuition-free, public school open to all North Carolina children who choose to apply. The school has a classically-based curriculum, frequent assessments for individual reading placement and acceleration, and uses Direct Instruction teaching methods.

Charter schools have the right to be overseen by the state board of education but aren’t governed by local school boards or districts. They answer to private boards and education management companies, which can be nonprofit or for profit. Charter schools aren’t required to release financial information, which has prompted a legal battle between Charter Day School and Brunswick County Schools.

The opening of charter schools means fewer students will be served by the public school system, but local school districts are still responsible for funding the charter schools.

By law, charter schools receive the per pupil allotment for each student they enroll. In Brunswick County, that allotment is about $7,600. If Brunswick County Schools lost 150 students to the new South Brunswick Charter, they would lose about $1.1 million.

Brunswick County sent $1.9 million to charter schools during the 2013-14 school year.

Office hours at the interim South Brunswick Charter campus will begin April 28, during which parents may ask questions or tour the campus. Hours are 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Tuesdays, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays, and  9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturdays. The school is accepting applications, and parents can find enrollment forms and other information online at SouthBCS.org or by calling 655-3600. 


Sam Hickman is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or shickman@brunswickbeacon.com.