BEAR GRASS - A community in Martin County won back its charter school in June after years of battling with the local board of education for the property.
According to Frank Beck, the co-chair for the Board of Directors of Bear Grass Charter School, the Martin County board of education shut down the old school in 2010 and moved everyone to South Creek middle and high schools in Robersonville.
That's when a group of concerned people came together to apply for a charter school. However, it wasn't approved by the state due to a school cap of 100 charter schools for the state.
In September 2011, with the passing of Senate Bill 8 the state lifted the cap of the 100 charter schools for North Carolina. That motion allowed charters who had applied the year before to get fast tracked through the process. Of the 27 applicants, nine charter schools were selected.
Bear Grass Charter School was one of those schools.
The group petitioned the Martin County Board of Education to use the old Bear Grass School building because it was no longer in use. However, their request was denied several times, according to Beck.
They later took the board to court and won their case on June 19.
Beck said they were given a preliminary injunction which allowed the group to use the building for free for one year.
So, now the community is coming together to fix it up before the new school year begins August 27.
Caleb Hines, a volunteer, was one of the last students to graduate from the old school when it closed in 2010.
"We always wanted a school in this community. Bear Grass has always been known for their great education. So we're painting and doing anything that needs to be done. For the past two years we haven't been able to come in here. It wasn't our building. We've been fighting with Martin County Board of Education. Now, that we've got our charter and got our building the whole community has rallied," Hines said.
The biggest misconception about charter schools is that they're private. However, they are actually public and teach all the same subjects as public schools. They just do it in a different way.
"The difference is that we're project based learning and our concentration is math and science," Principal Donna Moore said.
Curtis Bailey, a Bear Grass alum, said he wants to give back to a school that has given him so much.
"These are my family friends and neighbors. It's a community and that's what it's about. People sticking with each other. This is going to be awesome. It's coming along," Bailey said.
The charter school mus have their certificate of occupancy by August 15.
So far, 235 students have applied.
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