Lake Lure Classical Academy charter school to get $300k in local, state funds

Published 2:42 pm Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The opening of the Lake Lure Classical Academy (LLCA) charter school will cost Polk County Schools about $300,000 in local and state funds this year, according to Polk County Schools administrators.

According to statistics provided by Polk County Schools, 67 students living in Polk County are part of the first-year charter schools student body of about 250. Of those 67 students, 34 attended Polk County Schools in 2009-10.

The students who didnt attend our schools last year were either home schooled or attended private schools, I would guess, said Polk County Schools Superintendent Bill Miller.

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Polk County Schools will send approximately $125,033 in local funds about $1,799 apiece for all 67 Polk County residents attending LLCA.

When LLCA opened its doors Aug. 18, it gave the Lake Lure area its first school in a half century, cutting down long commutes for some who would otherwise attend schools in Rutherford, Henderson and Polk counties.

LLCA will also receive from the state an estimated $5,038 for each of the 34 former Polk County Schools, a total of $171,297 that would have otherwise been directed to Polk County Schools.

Miller and Chief Financial Officer Charlotte Sullivan said the dollar figures are estimates because of the states accounting system, which quantifies the student costs through other avenues and then calculates a dollar amount.

The 34 former Polk County students who enrolled in LLCA this year is far below the initial estimates of 118. Using that estimate, the state reduced funding to Polk County Schools by $594,501.

Miller said he expects the difference to be returned to the school system by the state.

We now know that 34 (students) are really attending, so the state will adjust us the difference in mid-October, he said.

Polk County Schools funding for LLCA comes on the heels of several legal battles over the alleged under-funding of charter schools by other school districts in North Carolina.

On Wednesday, three charter schools filed suit against Asheville City Schools, alleging that the school system under-funded the charter schools by more than $870,000 over a three-year period beginning in 2006-07. The charter schools rejected a $500,000 settlement offer after settling with Buncombe County Schools for $345,000 earlier this year. Buncombe County Schools did not admit to under-funding the charter schools.

School districts and charter schools in Charlotte and other areas around the state have also been embroiled in similar legal battles.

A handful of students living in Polk County will also be attending charter schools in Rutherford and Henderson counties.

This years funding estimates for charter schools will be part of a $24 million budget the Polk County Board of Education will be asked to approve at its regular meeting Monday night.