By Jessica Furr
ALBEMARLE — Soon students in Stanly, Montgomery and Randolph counties could have a new educational option.
Tillery Charter Academy (TCA) passed its first interview earlier this month in Raleigh. The 11-member Charter School Advisory Board voted unanimously to send Tillery Charter Academy forward for a second more extensive interview, expected to be sometime next month. The Charter Schools Advisory Board uses external evaluators and applicant interviews to review the applications.
Tillery Charter chairwoman Chrissy Fisher said she is excited about the increasing possibility that Tillery Charter Academy could soon be a reality for students.
“There aren’t many charter school options for elementary school students in the area and, if approved, TCA will fulfill a necessary void in the community,” she said.
If TCA is recommended to the State Board of Education for final approval in February, it would begin a yearlong training program aimed at getting the school’s board of directors ready to open their doors in the summer of 2019.
TCA would be a tuition-free, K-5 charter that would start with 144 students in grades K-2, expanding a grade a year to become a K-5 school. The exact physical location for the school has not yet been announced, but Fisher said it will be centrally located somewhere in Montgomery County. Once the location is approved, transportation options will be put in place to give students and parents easier access to the school.
Tillery Charter’s mission statement “is to provide a rigorous classical education with high academic and personal expectations that inspires students to be productive and thoughtful citizens in their communities and beyond.”
Fisher said the goal of the TCA board is to get parents excited about the new school and to implement the school’s curriculum goals.
“Our curriculum focuses on providing a strong foundation in reading and writing as well as math,” she said. “Not only will we be providing a rigorous classical education, we will also inspire students and teachers through our three core values: courage, respect and spirit of adventure.”
Tillery Charter Academy was one of 29 nonprofit boards to submit applications to develop charter schools to open in August 2019. Each charter school applicant was required to provide a detailed description of its proposed school’s mission and a plan to meet that mission for students. Applicants also were required to pay a $1,000 application fee and perform criminal background checks on their proposed board members.
North Carolina currently has 173 charter schools open for students. An additional 15 schools received a favorable report in August 2017 from the State Board of Education to begin a planning year for preparation to open in August 2018. North Carolina Department of Public Instruction staff will provide training for these charter groups during the next year as they prepare to open. During the 2017 application year, five approved schools were granted a one-year delay in opening by the State Board of Education. These 20 schools — once all are open — will bring the state’s total number of charter schools to 193 in August 2018, according to NCDPI.
Parents interested in learning more about Tillery Charter Academy, including a chance to receive updates on the school, can go to TCA’s Facebook page or its website at tillerycharteracademy.org.