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Frequently Asked Questions

The Answers You Need

Are charter schools public or private?

Charter schools are tuition-free, independentpublic schools of choice that are authorized by the State Board of Education and operated by independent non-profit boards of directors. A charter school is considered its own Local Education Agency (LEA). Riverside Leadership Academy would not be part of the Craven County Schools LEA.

If they are tuition-free, how are they funded?

State and local tax dollars are the primary funding sources for charter schools.  Funding for the schools come from federal, state, and local taxes. “The money follows the child,” so per pupil spending travels with the child to the school they attend. Charter schools do not receive funds for capital expenses (building a school building, renovations, etc.)

Who can attend a charter school?

Charter schools have open enrollment, cannot discriminate in admissions, and cannot associate with any religion or religious group. They must admit any child residing in NC who is qualified to attend NC schools regardless of which school district where the child resides.

My child has an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). Can they attend a charter school?

Charter schools are public schools, so they must provide special education and related services to all eligible students.  RLA will have highly qualified special education teachers. When a child enrolls in a charter school with an IEP from a previous school, the charter school must follow that IEP until the charter school's IEP team meets to review and revise the IEP or develop a new IEP. The North Carolina Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities are applicable for all public school administrators and staff. Pursuant to charter school law and the general statutes governing the education of children with disabilities, a charter school is considered an LEA for purposes of providing special education and related services to children with disabilities. Charter schools are obligated to identify, locate, and evaluate all students who are in need of or suspected of being in need of special education and related services.

How are charter schools held accountable to the standards they teach?

RLA will follow the NC Standard Course of Study, and, like all charter schools, it is required to participate in the state’s accountability program, administer end-of-grade/ end-of course tests, and provide data needed for NC School Report Cards.

Do charter schools have to provide transportation to and from school?

Charter schools may provide transportation for students enrolled at the school, but are not required to do so. The charter school must develop a plan so that transportation is not a barrier to any student who resides in the local school district in which the school is located. RLA will have a transportation option. Most likely, it will be 1 or 2 school buses with strategic pick up and drop off locations.

Do charter schools provide free and reduced lunches?

Charter schools are not required to provide free and reduced price lunches for students living in poverty.  However, RLA will provide free and reduced lunches to students who qualify.

Why do people select an NC charter school?

Charter schools can provide increased choice and learning opportunities. They can encourage creative teaching methods.  RLA is a Project Based Learning school, will offer a socio-emotional learning curriculum, and will offer specials, electives, and athletics.

Why do teachers choose to work in an NC charter school?

Charter schools can offer new professional opportunities for educators to innovate and improve instruction. While charter schools do not have to pay employees at the same rate as the state salary scale, RLA will match the NC state salary scale. RLA will also have a retirement program comparable to the state’s plan.

Are charter school teachers licensed?

The law requires 50% of charter school teachers to be licensed. However, charter school teachers must follow No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirements for highly qualified staff. All teachers who are teaching in the core subject areas of Math, Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts shall be college graduates. Exceptional Children (EC) teachers must be licensed in NC with a specialty in the EC service area of delivery.  All RLA Core General Education and EC teachers will be licensed and highly qualified.

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