Claremont South concerns – Charter school

This 735-student, for-profit school is being run by the National Heritage Academies. It is a charter school, billed as a “community school.” The original application for the Howard and Lillian Lee Scholars School, as it is known, stated the school would be designed to meet our school district students’ needs related to an achievement gap. Recent statements by school representatives, however, say this is not correct. Most of the students are expected to come from outside our district.

It is estimated this for-profit school, if built, most likely would divert more than $4 million from our school district. This for-profit, K-8 charter school would take public funds to create basically a private school. Its future principal wrote in the Chapel Hill News, however, that the proposed school would be completely “free.” When have public funds ever been “free,” with no cost to taxpayers?

On the other hand, the Orange County tax office has indicated this for-profit school would most likely not be required to pay taxes. Why would a corporation in Michigan care more about what happens in Carrboro than the people who live here? Why would we would favor local businesses and then turn over one of our schools to an outside corporation?

Our local school board, our local school district and our local NAACP have all voiced objections to the proposed for-profit school. Shouldn’t we listen to the concerns of our fellow citizens, as well as our locally elected Board of Education officials that represent us?

The building for this for-profit would be built far differently from any of our district schools, with a construction manager from elsewhere and interior walls being trucked in. There would be no cafeteria or science lab or regular sports fields. Special services would be limited, and teaching staff would not operate under the same contract standards as our local teachers do. Moreover, none of our district schools combine K through eighth grade for reasons of child development.

This 735-student, charter school, moreover, would not offer bus service, thus clogging our roads. Twice a day, at the very least, cars would descend upon Homestead Road. Currently, only a small section of Homestead Road in front of the school would be widened and paid for by the developer. What if the entire road needs to be widened due to traffic congestion? Taxpayers would carry the burden. No public transportation currently serves this section of Homestead Road. If public bus service were extended, despite the perception that our buses are “free” due to a fare-free system, this too would be paid for by our taxes.

To learn more about the proposed 735-student, for-profit charter school, see the Chapel Hill News editorial .

Below is additional information on our local school district’s three nearby schools, among the most heavily enrolled in our district, all of which would most likely be impacted by the for-profit charter school in terms of traffic:

  • Seawell Elementary School currently enrolls 703 students, making it the largest elementary school in the district. Estimates are its enrollment would decrease to 491 with redistricting set for the coming school year. The school’s capacity without trailers is 466. With trailers, it rises to 550 students.
  • Smith Middle School is the district’s largest middle school with 752 students. This number would change little with redistricting.
  • Chapel Hill High School is the second largest high school after East High School. It enrolls 1360 students. East enrolls 1479, making Chapel High only slightly smaller.

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