by Tori Hamby

Lake Norman could add another school to its growing number of charters.

The N.C. Charter School Advisory Council recently voted to recommend the state board of education approve the opening of Langtree Charter Academy in Iredell County.

Enrollment projections supplied to the state board on N. C. Charter School Foundation’s charter application show Langtree opening in 2013 with 661 students in kindergarten through sixth grades. When the school reaches capacity in 2019, board members expect enrollment to reach 2,345 students ranging from kindergarteners to 12th-graders.

The NCCSF plans to open the academy, as well as another charter school in Cabarrus County, at the start of the 2013-14 school year.

Both schools need to be approved by the state board of education in September.

Langtree and Cabarrus Charter Academy were two of 25 charter applicants that progressed to the final round of this year’s charter allotment process. More than 60 potential schools submitted applications for the 2013-14 school year.

Charter School USA, a Florida-based education management company that runs charter schools in Florida, Georgia and Louisiana, will help manage the day-to-day operations of both schools. The company runs 31 charter schools on 27 campuses, according to its website.

“It’s like any situation where you have a school system and then a school board,” said Rick Sipes, a NCCSF board member, said.

Like Corvian Community School, a former north Mecklenburg private school that will open as a charter school this fall, Langtree’s charter application cites a long waiting list at Community School of Davidson and other nearby charter schools as evidence of need.

Community School of Davidson, Pine Lake Preparatory, Lake Norman Charter School, Lincoln Charter School, Mountain Island Charter and Corvian Community School attract Lake Norman-area students.

The school has scouted a few potential locations in the south Iredell County area, Sipes said.

“The area is just exploding with so much going on,” Sipes said.

Joel Medley, N.C. Office of Charter Schools director, said more than 30,000 students are currently wait-listed for different charter schools across the state. Community School of Davidson and Pine Lake Preparatory have about 3,400 and 2,400 on their respective wait lists.

Another school approved by the advisory council – Invest Collegiate – listed a Davidson address as its  charter application. Invest Collegiate board member Kate Alice Dunaway, former head of school at Pine Lake Prep, said the school will be located in Charlotte’s Wilmore neighborhood.

With the influx of charter applications sent to the N.C. Office of Charter Schools since the state abolished the 100-school charter cap last summer, Medley said its hard to tell whether the state board will continue to award more charters.

Medley points to 1997, when charter schools came into existence. His office received 65 applications during the first two years. The number of applications dwindled with each passing year.

“If history is any indication of what we should expect,” Medley said, “applications would taper off.”