The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

March 20, 2013

Knight agrees with new enrollment legislation


TARBORO — Charter school enrollment was the topic of a Tuesday morning discussion by the North Carolina House Education Committee.

House Bill 250 would allow siblings applying for admission to a charter school to be lumped together in enrollment lotteries, increasing their chances of acceptance.

“Overall, we agree with the new legislation and we’re just looking for that day when they will do away with the lottery and we can just accept as many students as we can,” said Taro Knight, director of communications/ community outreach for North East Carolina Prep School (NECP), the county’s start-up charter school.

Knight said grouping together siblings in the enrollment process would help the school with recruiting, because the school might have four students from one household, rather than from four different households. He said he doesn’t anticipate the lumping together of siblings in the enrollment lottery as being detrimental to other students.

“It would not be any more than 10 percent of our population,” said Knight. The bill also states that charter school will give enrollment priority to the siblings of students who were admitted to the school in a previous year. Knight noted that students currently enrolled at NECP this school year are automatically enrolled for next school year.

The bill additionally gives enrollment preference to the children of charter school employees. Knight said NECP’s current policy written into its charter is that children of employees are “automatically enrolled in the school if they choose to come here.”

“It gives our employees an opportunity to be more involved in the education of their children,” Knight said. “For some of our teachers that live out of (Edgecombe) County, it would give them more of a chance to get involved in the extracurricular activities of their children.”

NECP’s open enrollment ends March 31.

“The lottery will take place sometime the second week of April, if there is a need for the lottery,” Knight said. His prediction is that the school will have to have a lottery.

“Based on our projected enrollment numbers, it looks like we may have to add two or three classrooms in each elementary grade in order to accommodate the number of applications that we have,” Knight said. NECP’s projected enrollment for the 2013-2014 school year is 860 students. The school will add the ninth grade next school year.

Knight said NECP is “really excited” about a statement regarding diversity in Section I of House Bill 250:

“Within one year after the charter school begins operation, the population of the school shall  reasonably reflect  the  racial  and  ethnic composition  of  the  general  population  residing  within  the  local  school administrative unit in which the school is located or the racial and ethnic composition of the special population that the school seeks to serve residing  within the local school administrative unit in which the school is located.”

“That has always been one of our goals,” Knight stated.