Charter school construction delays shift students on first day

by: Paige Hansen Updated:

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HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. - Students at a new Charlotte-area charter school were split up in three different buildings across Huntersville for the first day of class.
 
Thunderbird Preparatory Academy welcomed students, but not in the building it originally intended.
 
Patty Moreira, the managing director and principal of the K-4 charter school, said the school still has at least three weeks of construction before it will be ready.
 
"We weren't sure if we were going to get the certificate of occupancy on time," Moreira said.
 
And three weeks ago, Moreira said she had to find three temporary locations for students, a Montessori school and two churches.
 
Channel 9 learned that some parents who were concerned about the status of the facility decided to pull their students from the school.
 
Moreira said students have withdrawn but that parents did not always specify a reason.
 
"We've had parents make decisions all the way to the last hour," Moreira said.
 
Joel Medley, the director of the N.C. Office of Charter Schools said construction delays are not uncommon.
 
"It's not ideal, but again, whenever you start something that is brand new, those things occur," Medley said.
 
Moreira said some of the issues her school faced are based on the funding process.
 
"We're given funding for children but we are not given a building," Moreira said.
 
Funding is based on enrollment but Moreira said she has relied heavily on community relationships to get the school open.
 
Thunderbird's application projected it would have 488 kindergarten-through-fourth grade students its first year, according to the N.C. Office of Charter Schools.
 
Enrollment on Monday was about 350 students, Moreira told Eyewitness News.
 
Medley said three charter schools had to delay their openings for one year because of facility issues and that is an increase from only one that had to do that last year.