A third charter school, this one serving students sixth grade and up, will open in Lee County in August of 2022.

An application by Central Carolina Academy was approved unanimously on April 8 by the North Carolina State Board of Education. Initially, the school will serve grades six through ten, with eleventh and twelfth grades being added in subsequent years. At capacity, the school — which has not yet decided on a physical location — will be able to serve 664 students.

The application is a classified as a “replication” of the Chatham Charter School in Siler City, which will serve as a partner school to Central Carolina Academy.

“It is rewarding to see a concept I developed from my experience as a regional superintendent in Guilford County Schools be successful at Chatham Charter and now be replicated. Along with academics, we stress skills in the ‘unwritten curriculum’ like time management, organization, resiliency, and goal setting. I am excited to now have two schools working together to prepare students for college, the skilled workforce, military, and beyond,” said Dr. John Eldridge, head of school for Chatham Charter and the applicant for Central Carolina Academy.

Eldridge said he was approached by February 2020 by staff from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction about replicating the Siler City program in Lee County.

According to a press release, Central Carolina Academy will have “a rigorous academic program within a traditional middle and high school setting that includes clubs, sports and other student organizations. Maximizing the NC Career and College Promise will allow upperclassmen to earn an average of at least 30 college transfer credits as well as professional credentials in skilled workforce areas. Business partnerships and internships will be key components of a well-rounded Central Carolina Academy experience.”

There are two other charter schools currently operating in Lee County. Ascend Leadership Academy serves students in grades six and up, and MINA Charter School serves K-5 children.