Carthage considers charter school

The Town of Carthage Board of Commissioners meeting on May 15 opened discussions on new schools, expanding businesses, and rezoning for the sake of progress. With Moore County rapidly growing in the past several years, local businesses, schools, and town councils have been doing all their power to keep up, and Carthage is no exception.

Following public comments and typical meeting reports, guest speaker Becky Graham from the future Highlands Charter Academy went before the commissioners to give a presentation on her team’s proposed charter school.

“Moore County has a significant need for school choice in the Central and Northern sections of the county,” explained Graham. “There are no charter or private schools in this area, while there are seven private and three charter schools in Southern Moore County.”

Graham went on to present statistics from the current schools in the Northern Moore County area regarding literacy, grade averages, and proficiencies in various subjects. It was noted that only 14% of Robbins Elementary students are at least proficient in math, and only 18% are at least proficient in reading.

“Highlands Charter Academy will cultivate lifelong intellectual curiosity in its students through a traditional, content-rich classical education that emphasizes virtuous living, moral character, and civic responsibility, equipping students to live well-ordered lives,” Graham noted. “Its curriculum is balanced and strong across the four core disciplines of math, science, literature, and history; explicit phonics instruction leads to reading fluency, and explicit grammar instruction leads to language mastery.”

The school would feature teacher-led classrooms that “emphasize the centrality of Western tradition” for grades K-12. As a charter school, Highlands Charter Academy would have open enrollment with no tuition and would be authorized by the State Board of Education.

“We have a desire to see a school with outstanding education for economically disadvantaged children,” said Graham. “Economically disadvantaged children have just as much of a right to an education as the students whose parents can afford private schools.”

The rampant overcrowding of current Moore County schools was also addressed, and it was noted that Highlands Charter Academy could help alleviate this overcrowding. With so many schools in an ever-growing county already above capacity, a charter school could not only remove the strain on current schools but also allow all schools to provide better care with smaller classroom sizes, according to Graham’s findings.

At the time of the meeting, over 160 families — many with multiple children — had already expressed interest and signed on for additional information in the future. The Highlands Charter Academy team hopes to move on to the next steps soon, including fundraising, generating further awareness, and leasing space to get the school up and running before purchasing an official plot of land. The school aims to begin in August 2025, starting with two classes for each grade.

The commissioners viewed the presentation favorably and look forward to seeing future progress for Highlands Charter Academy, with Commissioner Brent Tanner noting, “I think parents would be really surprised just how beneficial this kind of thing can be.” 

In addition to Highlands Charter Academy, Sandhills Community College also made progress at the meeting. The Board of Trustees of Sandhills Community College requested to rezone the Larry R. Caddell Public Safety Training Center, a training center for local fire departments, emergency rescue services and law enforcement agencies.

The request was made so the center could open an indoor shooting range, which is currently prohibited in an industrial zone. The shooting range would further the school’s abilities in law enforcement training, and the board was unanimously in favor of approving this decision. There will be a public hearing in June. 

According to an official statement from Sandhills Community College, plans for this facility include “an apparatus/classroom building that will house fire and rescue vehicles for training purposes, an indoor firing range for law enforcement training, a multistory commercial burn building, and a driving track where all emergency services groups can practice driving skills.”

Finally, Southern Pines Brewing Company took another small but significant step toward their latest feat — a new location opening in Carthage. The brewing company purchased a second, smaller plot of land adjacent to their current Carthage plot from the town of Carthage, allowing them to expand their future dumpster area and mitigate drainage problems. They received the official “OK” from the Board of Commissioners to continue their work, preventing a further delay in progress and moving toward opening the company’s third location.

Feature photo: Carthage Board of Commissioners meeting on May 15.

~Article and photo by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Abegail Murphy.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email