Group continues to seek charter school for western Union

INDIAN TRAIL – A group of local education advocates are continuing their push this summer to establish a charter school in the Indian Trail/Stallings area, but still needs the support of the state before moving forward.

This fall will see the third charter school application from Union Preparatory Charter School, which would likely be built in Indian Trail or Stallings, according to officials with Charter Schools USA, which is helping the proposed academy’s board of directors with planning. Charter Schools USA works with a number of charter schools across the country, and currently has two projects in North Carolina – in Cabarrus and Iredell counties.

Bringing a charter school to western Union County seems the ideal choice, Sandy Castro, director of development for Charter Schools USA in North Carolina, said. The school would serve kindergarteners through eighth-graders and likely house around 1,145 students, Castro said. The school would likely employee between 80 to 90 people.

The region’s rapid growth combined with frustrations over Union County Public Schools’ redistricting plans has parents pushing for different options, which Castro said suits the Union Prep plans well.

Parents are “concerned with overcrowding and redistricting and they only see it getting worse,” Castro said. “… Parents are demanding choice. Once they heard that this board was proposing this school, they are talking about it in the community and generating support.”

Charter Schools USA works with schools to gain community support for proposals, works on the application, helps establish academic and financial goals and more. The community support aspect of that plan is going well so far, Castro said, as more people jump on board with the proposal. 

“Board members and I have met with some folks in (the area) and they really like the idea and said ‘We wish you were proposing two or three schools, because we could fill them.’”

One of those in favor of the plan is Indian Trail councilman Chris King, who has recently voiced concerns about overcrowding in Indian Trail schools. King is impressed by other schools Charter Schools USA has worked with, and said seeing a new campus built without the need of taxpayer funds would be a big benefit for the town right now.

“We have a lot of growth, we have approved a lot of new rooftops,” King said about the need for more schools. “They want to come to our town and they are prepared to build a new school at no cost to taxpayers, and to me that’s going to ease the overcrowding problems that we have. There’s no mystery what’s been going on in the past two months with overcrowding issues, and this is a great alternative.”

Earlier applications for Union Prep failed because of misunderstandings about the financial plans, Castro said. This year’s application is due by Sept. 26, and the state will consider all applications through December. Only a handful of the proposed charter schools will be approved each year.

Union Prep would open in 2016 if approved this year. Find more information at www.unionprepcharter.org.

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Mike Parks

About Mike Parks

Mike Parks has served as managing editor of the Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group since March 2012, having previously served as editor of the group’s South Charlotte Weekly since 2010. Mike graduated with a degree in political science from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and previously worked for Time Warner Cable News in Charlotte before joining the papers.

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