Durham School Board Fights New Charter

Judy Hartnett's picture
Thursday, February 2, 2012

Durham, North Carolina leaders are taking a stand against a new charter high school planned for the Research Triangle Park area, saying it will siphon money from traditional public schools and lead to further racial segregation.

The Durham school board has sent a strongly worded resolution to the State Board of Education opposing Research Triangle High School, one of nine proposed charter schools seeking fast-track approval to open in the fall. The board meets today to begin discussing charter applications. A vote is expected in March.

Joining the opposition are state House representatives from Durham, who wrote the state board Monday, saying, "We cannot in good conscience support the approval of this charter at this time." The school board seeks support in the fight also from city and county leaders in Durham.

Durham, with its relatively high per-pupil funding, already has eight charter schools serving more than 3,000 students, said a letter from school Superintendent Eric Becoats. That represents an 8.7 percent market share of students - the highest in the state. About $10 million of local funding goes to charters, and expansion already planned by charters in Durham will mean an additional loss of $11 million in local funding annually.

Now that the state has opened the door to unlimited charters, Durham leaders fear another surge.

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