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Enrollment numbers down for Haywood charter school

schoolsA new charter school opening in Haywood County has downwardly revised its projected student count for the coming school year.

Shining Rock Classical Academy has lowered its initial estimate of 325 students in grades K-6 to 275. The start-up school has received official paperwork from 200 students.

The school is projecting 270 students, however, based on verbal affirmation from parents of another 70 students who say they intend to turn in their paperwork but just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

“It is contingent upon us to kind of close those deals,” said Ben Butler, director of Shining Rock Classical Academy. 

The master list of interested students has shrunk by about 55, however — from 325 to 270 — likely due to what Butler called “place holding” by parents wanting to save a spot early on while they thought about it. Still, the projected student count shows strong interest among a segment of parents and is larger than they had predicted for the first year, Butler said.

Meanwhile, Shining Rock is under the gun to get its campus ready by August. The school leased a tract of raw land outside Waynesville and planned to bring in modulars — akin to large trailers joined together in a building configuration.

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The Shining Rock board has been exploring back-up options to house students — namely leasing out space in other buildings around town — in case it can’t get its own site ready by move in time in August.

“We don’t want to be caught without an option. We are pursuing it very seriously in case something happened,” Butler said.

Butler would not say whether the site is likely — or unlikely — to be ready in time, referring that question to Board President Tara Keilberg. Keilberg declined to comment about the likelihood of the site being ready.

Parents have not received any notice from Shining Rock about the potential of the site not being ready by August.

Butler did say, however, that it is not unheard of for new charter schools to have to operate out of a temporary facility for a period of weeks or months, and the state charter school office requires a back-up site to be identified. It can even be necessary to lease space in multiple buildings if one big enough to house all the students can’t be found.

There is a lot of work to do on Shining Rock’s site aside from bringing in the modulars. There’s grading work for the driveway, parking lot and modular pads. Water and sewer lines, electrical lines, phone lines and Internet service has to be run to the field — with various state and town permits, inspections and hook-up fees required along the way. The town of Waynesville has not received any building permit applications yet.

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