LUMBERTON — Local residents wanting more options for educating Robeson County’s young people are looking to establish a new charter school within the county.
About 10 Robesonians, including Wendy Pridgen, the wife of former state Rep. G.L. Pridgen, who served on the House Education Committee, and David Edge, a Robeson County commissioner, have formed a committee and requested the Roger Bacon Academy to provide information about the possibility of establishing a new K-5 charter school in Robeson County.
The Roger Bacon Academy is a North Carolina management organization that over the past 20 years has established and run four high-performing, tuition-free charter schools in the coastal area of the state. These schools include Charter Day School in Leland, Columbus Charter School in Whiteville, Douglass Academy in Wilmington and South Brunswick Charter School in Southport.
Robeson County currently has two charter schools, Southeast Academy and the CIS Academy. Charter schools enjoy public funding but have greater autonomy in how they are operated. The state used to have a cap of 100 charter schools, but it was lifted in 2016, and now there is no restriction.
Some of the members of the Robeson County committee have toured The Roger Bacon Academy’s charter schools and say they believe the academy’s direct instruction model and classical curriculum would greatly benefit Robeson County.
“These schools are very structured, there are no discipline problems and they produce positive results such as good test scores,” said Pridgen. “A charter school like this would be a positive addition to the Robeson County schools and would offer an alternative to parents who are looking for a different way to educate their children.”
Pridgen said that there are a lot of parents unsatisfied with the education currently being offered by the Public Schools of Robeson County.
“A lot of parents are taking their children to schools in Dillon, Florence and Fayetteville because the schools in Robeson County are not up to standards in some areas such as test scores,” said Pridgen. “A new charter school in Robeson County would give parents another alternative and maybe keep some of the children in Robeson County.”
Edge said in a statement that improved educational opportunities are needed for Robeson County children.
“We feel it is imperative that we help bring parents and community leaders together to address the urgent need for improving educational opportunities for our children,” said Edge. “The RBA direct education curriculum — which is producing better performance by students — is something we need to very seriously consider for our children.”
Pridgen said that anyone interested in learning more about The Roger Bacon Academy and the kind of charter school it could develop and administer in Robeson County, should contact Barbra Jones, director of community relations for Roger Bacon Academy, at firstname.lastname@example.org. The email should include name, phone number and email address.
Bob Shiles canb e reached at 910-416-5165.