Wake Forest Planning Board pushes back vote on charter school plan

Wake County News

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (WNCN) — The fate of a charter school hoping to come to Wake Forest is still up in the air after a town Planning Board meeting and public hearing on Thursday.

Wake Preparatory Academy would enroll about 1,600 students.

On Thursday, representatives with the charter school and experts presented to the board for several hours. They talked about everything from traffic plans to how neighbors would be impacted by the school.

Community members then voiced their opinions.

Board members ultimately decided they need more time to look everything over. They’re now going to vote on approving the site plan at their next meeting.

A handful of protesters formed outside Wake Forest Town Hall before the public hearing. They said they wanted to send a message about the proposal of Wake Prep Academy.

“We’re just here fighting for equitable choices in education,” said Michelle Tomlinson, a Wake Forest parent against the charter school.

Tomlinson said charter schools take away students and needed funding from public schools.

“We take pride in our public education and making it the best we can and we can’t do that if this continues,” she said.

Opponents at the hearing said it’ll encourage segregation by mostly enrolling socioeconomically-advantaged students.

“We’re a very diverse community and the charter schools are not representative at all of the diversity in our community,” said Tomlinson.

Representatives with Charter One said their schools do just the opposite, and bridge the gap between public schools and private schools.

“It’s amazing to see kids come together from poorer areas, high-end areas, and come together as one,” said Mitchell Schwab, southeast division vice president of Charter One.

Schwab said 35 percent of students would be from a lower economic status. The remaining spots would be a lottery for everyone.

He said more than 6,500 families have expressed interest in the school.

CBS 17 asked him about the concern of taking funds from public schools.

“That’s not up to us. That’s up to parents. If this is something they want their kids to go to, they send their kids there,” said Schwab.

The goal is to have the school open in a year.

About 1,000 people have signed a petition against the charter school online here.

Another complaint is it’s planned to go near Joyner Park, leading to concerns about tree clearing and traffic congestion.

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