Explanation of Types of Public Schools in North Carolina
Note: All of the school types below are public schools, in that they are funded primarily through public tax dollars.
- Regular School: a public school that students are assigned to attend because they live in the
school's attendance area or attendance zone. Such schools are sometimes called “zoned schools,” “neighborhood schools”
or “ZIP code schools,” and are normally only open for enrollment to students from a predetermined set of neighborhoods or
ZIP codes. Regular schools are by far the most common type of school in the Charlotte area.
- Magnet School: a public school that provides unique or specialized curriculum. Magnet schools differ
from regular public schools in that they offer specialized academic themes, such as math & science, the arts, foreign
languages and so on. Magnet schools are usually open to students well outside of their immediate geographic location.
Unlike charter schools, magnet schools are normally not completely independent, and receive their funding from the
school system in the city or county in which they operate.
- Alternative School: a school that serves students at any level, serves suspended or expelled
students, serves students whose learning styles are better served in an alternative program, or a school that provides
individualized programs outside of a standard classroom setting.
- Charter School: a tuition-free, public school created on the basis of a license or “charter” made with
the State Board of Education. Charter schools typically have greater freedom than traditional public schools in personnel
policies, curriculum and teaching philosophy. In return, they must make a commitment to meet state standards of accountability.
Charter schools are also normally open to students from counties and towns outside of where they are located. Enrollment
decisions at charter schools are often lottery-based, with special consideration given to siblings of currently enrolled students.