Cardinal Charter Academy of Knightdale still unsure of location in town

mhankerson@newsobserver.comApril 18, 2014 

— In about a year, Cardinal Charter Academy hopes to be enrolling students in Knightdale in a new building.

Where in Knightdale, however, remains up in the air.

Currently, an advisory board with North Carolina Public Schools is in the process of reviewing and interviewing boards of charter schools that applied to open in the 2015 academic year.

By June, the schools will have to be approved by the state Board of Education.

At that point, Cardinal Charter Academy will begin scoping locations in Knightdale, said Colleen Reynolds, spokesperson for Triangle Charter Education Association (TCEA), the founding board of the Cardinal Charter Academy.

“We want to go through the approval process first, then we’ll identify potential areas to build,” Reynolds said. “It’s far too early to make that kind of decision.”

Cardinal has a location set to open in Cary this coming fall, but Reynolds said the often overlooked eastern part of the county – the only charter option is East Wake Academy in Zebulon – made sense as the next location because of the need students have.

“We look for demand,” Reynolds said. “Typically we don’t plan on opening a school unless we have heard from the parents who will contact the local board and say they would like to have a charter school.”

The most recent end-of-grade test scores released in November showed that no non-charter public school in eastern Wake County had more than 50 percent of its students performing at or above grade level.

Lake Myra Elementary School in Wendell had the highest proficiency rate in eastern Wake County, with 48.4 percent of students at or above grade level.

At East Wake Academy, a public charter school in Zebulon, 54.5 percent of students passed the year-end tests.

Reynolds said Cardinal Charter Academy plans to address some of the challenges students in eastern Wake face with the use of personalized learning plans, a way to identify where a student and teacher should focus their efforts and something unique to the Academy.

“Instead of just assuming that every student is the same, they develop (the plan),” Reynolds said.

In addition to remedying the issue of student achievement, Reynolds said Cardinal Charter has ways to get more parents involved, a problem identified by the Knightdale Area Education Work Group, which was charged with bringing suggestions to improve Knightdale schools to the Wake County Board of Education.

Reynolds said the school encourages parent volunteer hours. For a parent with one student, the school asks for 20 hours of volunteer time. For more than one student, the school requires 30 hours.

She said the school is aware that for working parents, it can be hard to find 20 hours to go to a school. So the school also allows parents to get creative. One example, Reynolds said, was having a parent take their child to the library for some reading time.

“It’s all about the students, that’s what the bottom line is,” she said.

Cardinal isn’t the only alternative education option eyeing Knightdale, though.

Thales Academy, a chain of private schools in the Triangle, will be part of Knightdale Station, a housing development that will have over 800 homes and some retail space.

Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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