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Opening of charter high school has already been delayed twice

The opening of the charter high school that’s currently being proposed for Mebane has already been delayed twice as the school’s founders continue to search for a viable location in which to open.

A state oversight board – then known as the Charter School Advisory Board and now called the Charter School Review Board (CSRB), which is responsible for approving and overseeing charter schools in North Carolina – had voted unanimously to approve the application to open West Triangle High School in following an in-person interview before the board January 2022, according to documents on file with the state.

The 855-page application that was submitted to the state in August 2021 described West Triangle High School as a replication of another STEM-based charter school, the Research Triangle High School located off Highway 54 in Durham, near Research Triangle Park.

West Triangle High School originally had been approved to open in August 2023.  That opening date was later moved to the fall of 2024.

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However, West Triangle High School received approval by the CSRB to postpone opening until August 2025, according to a summary of the CSRB’s meeting last Monday.

Enrollment projections that West Triangle High School has submitted to the CSRB show that the charter high school would have a total total capacity of 620 students in grades nine through 12 (see accompanying chart).

Like many charter schools, West Triangle High School would continue to add additional high school grades in sequential years of operation.  By year two, grade 11 would be added, and the charter school would have a total projected enrollment of 460, according to data that has been submitted to the CSRB.

West Triangle would initially open for students in grades nine and 10 for the 2025-26 school year, according to a summary of the CSRB’s latest meeting, which notes that a facility plan that would’ve allowed for opening in Fall 2024 “is no longer viable after Orange County commissioners” denied its rezoning application in June 2023.

In outlining its request for a second delay in opening, West Triangle High School’s founders told the state board that “a new facility location was then identified in the Orange County section of Mebane [but] increased interest rates, construction costs, and an inability to predict enrollment from Alamance County made this option a risky choice.”

Representatives for West Triangle High School began discussing the possibility of leasing a 65,000-square foot facility from Hedgehog Holdings in October 2023.

According to information that the charter high school’s leaders submitted to the state oversight board,

“Hedgehog Holdings has 65,000 square feet available to lease but needs time to prepare the space, thus the request for this delay.  This building is already zoned to be a school and has a permit.  The facility has ample water supply, electrical capacity, sewage, HVAC, and sprinklers.  Hedgehog anticipates the building will be available by May 2025.”

Mebane city officials told The Alamance News this week that they are unaware any such facility currently located within the city’s jurisdiction.

And whether the facility that West Triangle High School may lease from Hedgehog Holdings is a potential stopgap measure – in the event that the proposal to build in Mebane is rejected – is unclear.

The applicant who has filed a preliminary site plan for West Triangle High School with the city, Steve Hubrich of Durham-based Hubrich Contracting, had not responded to an inquiry from The Alamance News by press time.

Earlier proposal to open charter school in Mebane fizzled

This isn’t the first time that a charter school has been proposed for Mebane.

Several years ago, a Mebane couple had applied to open Mebane STEAM Academy – a free public charter school that would’ve had a STEM and arts focus and served students in kindergarten through fifth grade – for the 2018-19 school year.

However, the application for Mebane STEAM Academy later failed to receive the approvals needed to move forward, documents that remain on file with the State Board of Education.

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