TMSA Apex Grand Opening on WRAL News

TMSA Apex Grand Opening on WRAL News
Posted on 02/22/2023
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By Matt Talhelm, WRAL Reporter - Triangle Math and Science Academy (TMSA) is expanding its footprint and enrollment with a new elementary campus in Apex.


 The new location opened Tuesday at 3501 Dropseed Drive, off U.S. Highway 64. The building marks the first phase of a $65 million TMSA campus in Apex.


 The school has pledged to offer Saturday school and free lunches as well as free transportation to students around the Triangle.


 The Apex site currently serves students from kindergarten through fifth grades but the school's website stated it will "gradually grow by one grade per year until we serve K-8."


 State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt joined school administrators and the mayor of Apex on Tuesday to cut the ribbon at the new school.


 "The innovation that TMSA Apex is doing is really in line with what our state’s economic needs are, where the jobs are ... how to make students really prepared for life after graduation," said Truitt.


 Charter schools are becoming more popular in North Carolina. TMSA leaders said there is a waitlist of about 6,500 students for its schools in the Triangle.


 TMSA currently serves about 600 elementary school students in kindergarten through fifth grades. Leaders plan to add sixth through eighth grade classes at the Apex campus over the next few years and aims to open a new high school in 2024.


 The Apex campus is the newest of more than 200 charter schools in the state – a number that's more than doubled since 2011, and one that worries critics who say charters take away resources from public school systems and aren't as diverse.


 Charter schools receive taxpayer funding but are operated by independent non-profit boards. They've have grown by 48,000 students statewide, to more than 140,000, while enrollment in traditional public schools has dropped by more than 61,000 students.


 TMSA Apex has a student population that's about 68% Asian, according to state enrollment numbers.


 But across the Wake County, the demographics of students in charter schools match up pretty closely with non-charter schools. There are more students who identify as Asian, white or two or more races in public charter schools. There are 7% fewer Hispanic students and 4% fewer Black students in charter schools than in Wake County public schools.


 Apex Mayor Jacques Gilbert added, "This is a solution for Apex as we’re at capacity for many schools, so what TMSA is doing here and putting STEM with it is amazing."


 TMSA is a tuition-free academy focusing on science, technology, engineering, the arts and math.


 WRAL education reporter Emily Walkenhorst said some charter schools are pushing for more inclusion.


 "Some charter schools have become more diverse as they've adopted what are called 'weighted lotteries,'" she said. "Which are basically lotteries of applicants that are designed around [the idea] that 'we'll accept students that reflect the demographic of the county we're operating in.'"


 TMSA uses that system for enrollment.


 Superintendent Ben Karaduman explained, "We are giving the priority for the educationally disadvantaged students so they can for sure benefit out of our program."