• Enrollment options to charter and public schools create confusion

    By: Paige Hansen


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Parents have options on what kind of school to send their children to, according to school officials.

    They can apply to charter and magnet schools while their child is enrolled in public schools but that could cause confusion.

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    Schools told Eyewitness News they are struggling with enrollment issues because of last-minute decisions.
    There is no rule to stop parents from applying to multiple schools for their students to attend, according to the North Carolina Office of Charter Schools.
    Katy Ridnouer, who plans to open her own Charlotte-area charter school called VERITAS in 2015, said parents do that to give their student the best option possible.
    "They can apply to five different schools and this is problematic. It creates instability in student numbers," Ridnouer said.
    Ridnouer said her operational budget is directly tied to enrollment numbers.
    "If we're off by five students, that's a teacher salary. We may not be able to run effectively or at all," Ridnouer said.
    Charlotte Mecklenburg School officials said it also is a problem for them.
    Superintendent Heath Morrison said last week there might be several charter schools that think they are getting the same student.

    Also, CMS might think that same student will still be attending one of its schools.

    "I think as we continue to see more and more charter schools there's going to need to be more focus on making a better system," Morrison said.
    The Office of Charter Schools said if a child is enrolled in a charter school, they should be withdrawn from another public school.
    But there is no cutoff date for that to happen and school administrators said the first-day head count is when they really know how many students they'll have.
    "It becomes more important to make those choices sooner," CMS Board of Education member Eric Davis said. "It's a growing issue given number of options parents have."
    Davis said if parents make decisions earlier, it will reduce the chance some legislative mandate or rule will be handed down by districts or lawmakers.
    In 2011 lawmakers lifted the cap that limited the number of charter schools to 100.
    This year there will be 150 charter schools open in North Carolina, according to the Office of Charter Schools.
    Eleven more charter schools are up for approval to open in the 2015-16 school year, the office said. 

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