The Shelby Star
Students entered Pinnacle Classical Academy on a red carpet Monday.
It was the first-ever day of classes for Cleveland County’s first charter school.
“This is the day we have been waiting for, and everything has finally fallen into place,” said Pinnacle headmaster Danielle Robertson.
Charter schools are public schools that do not charge students for tuition.
“Our mission is to give a premiere college preparatory education,” Robertson said. “We have more flexibility with how we teach.”
Pinnacle uses STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning principles in its curriculum, along with classical and character education.
Classical education is a form of teaching built on repetition, memorization and eventually analyzing information, Robertson said. Character education is a way of using positive discipline rather than having lots of rules and yelling, she said.
“Each week there will be classroom meetings to resolve problems, such as misbehaving in line,” she said. “There will be roleplaying on how students should follow the rules and help tie in the positive.”
Pinnacle is a state-funded school, with additional funding coming from a loan the charter's board is working to secure to help build a new school building off Joe’s Lake Road, Robertson said.
The current school building on South Post Road was renovated from the old Hallelujah Acres facility.
“The school is currently kindergarten through sixth grade,” Robertson said. “But each year we will add on a new grade.”
The current school building was also a school in the past, and renovations included taking down a few walls and converting offices back into classrooms, Robertson said.
“We’ve waited so long to see if we would get the charter and the students,” Robertson said. “Now, it’s finally here.”
House Bill 250, signed by Governor McCrory on July 26, enacts more Goals set by the Alliance alongside newly enacted SB337. The NC Alliance for Public Charter Schools began its efforts in early 2010 to bring a number of needed improvements to the original charter law of 1996. Sponsored by House members Hardister, Brandon, Stam, and Lambeth, H250 has been signed by the Governor and is now law.
Expands Siblings: The old law created uncertainty in the definition of siblings when it came to admissions in the lottery process. Rigid interpretation of the old law seemed to disallow step-brothers and step-sisters as siblings. Also foster children living in a home with other children were also disallowed. The new law includes all of these children to be eligible under the term “sibling” when a charter board sets up its policies for lotteries.
Employee Preference Equity: The old law allowed only the principal and teachers’ children to be given preference in the lottery. The new law allows the charter school’s board to adopt broader, fairer policies for including the children of any full-time employee.
Assured Grade Expansion: A charter school can now expand its school by adding the next higher grade without having to seek permission from the State Board.
Enrollment Increase: A charter school can now increase its enrollment in accordance with its approved charter without a second approval by the State Board.
Please note that S337 went through over nine revisions with numerous amendments, and H250 had over five major revisions. Each change required scrutiny to ensure that charter interests were protected at each step of the legislative process.
These initiatives urged by the NC Alliance for Public Charter Schools are another strong win for our schools. As a Chair of a 2013 Charter School, Pinnacle Classical Academy in Shelby, NC, I assure you I have our best interest in the forefront of every piece of legislation. http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/House/PDF/H250v7.pdf