TARBORO – Increased enrollment and expansion continues to take place at North East Carolina Prep School in Tarboro.
Edgecombe County’s first charter school will serve more than 1,300 students and have additional buildings going into its third year. Northeast Carolina Prep Executive Director John Westberg said the school will have at least 400 incoming students for the 2014-15 school year. The school added 500 students this year after having 430 students enrolled in the initial year. The school still has some openings for students.
“We have one or two openings in kindergarten, two or three in second grade and we can take more kids for our middle school because we haven’t reached our maximum,” Westberg said.
Westberg said the prep school will serve kindergarten through 10th grade for the upcoming year after previously stopping at the ninth grade. He added the school has hired 25 new teachers, bringing the total up to 91 on the staff. Westberg said construction is ongoing on the prep school property and is expected to be finished by the time North East Carolina Prep resumes classes Aug. 4.
A building consisting of 12 classrooms will be added to the elementary building and another building comprised of three classrooms will be attached to the kindergarten building. Taro Knight, the charter school’s director of operations and community relations, said the only stand-alone building will be the new multi-purpose building. Knight said the building will be used for physical education classes and converted into a cafeteria during lunch. Westberg said the classrooms will have a data projector for teachers and four to six computers for student use.
“The project will cost $3.1 million, and we have to pay it like we’re making a mortgage payment,” Westberg said. “We have to pay out of our average daily member or student population money that we get from the state. We don’t get capital money like other public schools get, so we have to be very frugal in how we budget and how we plan.”
Westberg said the next goal is to add 11th- and 12th-grade students.
“We are planning to add a high school building, and we project to have anywhere from 2,000 to 2,200 students by 2017,” he said. “We want to continue to expand our courses, and add advancement placement courses, honor courses and varsity sports across the board.”
Diane LeFiles, the school’s director of communications, said charter school students must wear uniforms and there is limited bus transportation because prep schools don’t receive state transportation funding.
She said most parents provide transportation for their children. While the school serves students in Edgecombe, Nash, Wilson, Halifax, Pitt and Martin counties, LeFiles said the school is allowed to serve students from any county in the state.
Westberg said there are even more reasons why parents should place their children in a prep school.
“I think there is a number of advantages,” Westberg said. “Our class sizes in kindergarten through fifth grade are limited to 20 students in a class. Our instructional technique is constructed out of cooperative learning and we use the core knowledge curriculum, which is a little bit above the common core standards. We start that in the kindergarten and our curriculum spirals, so it reinforces year after year what the child has learned the previous year. We also aren’t a test prep school. We are about learning. If they can read, write and learn basic math, then everything else will take care of itself.”