Lotteries are open until January at all four charter schools in Chatham

Registration for Chatham County Public Charter Schools is open on varying dates in January, with lottery apps available online at each school.

Charter schools are “public schools of choice,” says the North Carolina Department of Education website, licensed by the State Board of Education, run by independent, not-for-profit boards of trustees and mainly financed by state and local taxes.

In recent years, more and more charter schools in North Carolina, including those in Chatham, have reserved places for “educationally disadvantaged” students in their often competitive admission lotteries. Charter schools have open enrollment “and cannot discriminate in admissions, associate with any religion or religious group, or charge tuition,” the DPI website says, but the listings The wait to register generally greatly exceeds the number of places available.

In Chatham, three charter schools are open to students: Chatham Charter School, Woods Charter School and Willow Oak Montessori, with a fourth, School of the Arts for Boys Academy (SABA), which will open to students next fall. Of these schools, only Chatham Charter does not have a “weighted” lottery for educationally disadvantaged students.

A weighted lottery, as dictated by the charter schools office of the state Department of Public Instruction, gives students with various educational disadvantages – economically disadvantaged students, migrant and immigrant students, disabled students, English learners and homeless students – an additional consideration for acceptance.

Historically, charter schools have been criticized by some for being more segregated than traditional public schools, although education experts say this is difficult to say for sure, as many charter and traditional schools mirror areas within. where they are, if not the overall demographics of the county. .

All weighted lotteries must be approved by the state board of education.

Here’s more information on each of Chatham’s four charter schools, along with their position on weighted lotteries:

Chatham Charter School

Chatham Charter, located in Siler City, is a public K-12 charter school founded as a private K-8 school in 1993 and accredited in 1996. The school has nearly 600 students.

The school will replicate its academic program through a new charter school, the Central Carolina Academy, which will open next August in Lee County.

The Chatham Charter Lottery opened in September and will close at 5 p.m. on Friday, January 28. A public draw will be scheduled on campus approximately two weeks after the registration period closes.

You can find more information on how to apply at

Montessori Oak Willow

Willow Oak is a Montessori school located in Pittsboro that uses the educational philosophy rooted in the research of Maria Montessori. The K-8 public school has around 200 students.

Montessori teachers are trained to observe the interests and developmental level of each child and prepare the class so that each child is free to independently choose their job throughout the day. Classrooms are a mixed age environment; each child usually stays with the same teacher for three years.

The Willow Oak Weighted Lottery prioritizes economically disadvantaged students on the basis of free lunch status and reduces up to 40% of available places in a grade level – once other priorities are met (children of employees, brothers and sisters). sisters of students and students enrolled in the previous two years but left, under specific circumstances).

Lottery registration will remain open until 11:59 p.m. on February 18. The school will organize open days from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 8 and from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, February 6.

The lottery link is on a banner at the top of the school’s website:

School of Arts for Boys Academy (SABA)

SABA is a public charter school, to be located in Pittsboro, focused on using the arts and culturally appropriate education to bridge the achievement gap and empower black and brown boys.

As a public charter school, SABA will be open to all boys who wish to attend.

Although the school is not currently open, it is slated to open in August 2022 and is state approved to start operating with 110 boys in grades 3 through 5.

The school will reserve 60% of its lottery registrations each year for educationally disadvantaged students.

Official registrations for the 2022-23 school year will begin in January 2022. You can find out more about the school and its registrations at

“We are delighted with the enthusiastic support we are receiving in the community and look forward to being a valuable educational home for those we serve,” SABA School Principal Valencia Toomer said on the website. ‘school.

Woods Charter School

Woods Charter, located in Chapel Hill, has approximately 200 students. It was founded in 1998 as a college preparatory high school, but has grown to include K-12 grades.

Registrations opened on October 15th and continue until Saturday January 15th. The school lottery will take place on February 1st.

Woods Charter first implemented its weighted lottery last February, after being approved in October.

Woods Charter has a relatively gradual approach, setting aside 25% of its available slots after considering sibling and faculty applicants. Last year that meant four places in Kindergarten and one in Grade 9. Each year the lottery will also include Grades 3 and 5, marking the years in which school class sizes increase.

When the school began its weighted lottery review process, 8.4% of Woods Charter families qualified for a free and discounted lunch, based on a Financial Needs Survey with a respondent rate of 83%. On average, the average free and discounted percentages of the five geographically closest traditional public schools for 2019-2020 were 25.54% – with Pittsboro Elementary at its highest with 34.55% of students and Perry Harrison the lowest at 17. , 22%.

“Over time, we will look like a regular public school for this region in our demographic,” Bryan said. “It’s an ambitious goal for us. It will happen over time, we will have to be patient.

You can find more information here.

Journalist Hannah McClellan can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @HannerMcClellan.

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