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Commissioners Michael Page, Ellen Reckhow, Brenda Howerton and Pam Karriker signed the petition Monday to the state board, which is scheduled to vote Thursday on nine fast-track charter applications, including a proposed high school in Research Triangle Park.

Commissioner Joe Bowser, however, refused saying it was unwise to criticize what has been in some cases a successful alternative to struggling public schools.

“We have some charter school systems that are working quite well in this community,” Bowser said. “As the legislation stated, they were designed as a creative approach to education.” The resolution isn’t intended criticize charters, Reckhow said, but focuses on ensuring all students have access to the schools. The resolution also asks the state board to require all charter schools to submit to county commissioners an annual report outlining student body profiles, educational achievement during the previous year, and innovative educational practices.

Commissioners also directed County Manager Mike Ruffin to reach out to local charter schools and ask them to present that information voluntarily, possibly in a March or April special meeting. “What strikes me is millions of dollars of local county money is going to these charter schools,” Reckhow said. “I am not sure we have a good handle on them.”

Charter schools receive public money but operate independently of elected school boards. Charter schools are not subject to the same rules and regulations of standard public schools. Students apply to the schools, which do not charge tuition, and are chosen by lottery.

Research Triangle High is proposed as a school focused on science, technology, engineering and math that will serve 420 students in ninth through 12th grades. The application includes the possibility of a middle school down the road.

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