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Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
6:34 AM Thu, Oct. 18th

Popularity of charter schools in county growing

Did you know that Mohave County had 13 percent of its public school students enrolled in public charter schools during 2006-07?

Those were among the findings released Oct. 16 by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. It puts Mohave County in the Top 10 for charter school market share.

A significant number of those students, 1,485, are enrolled at Kingman Academy of Learning, where Susan Chan is district administrator. She also serves on the board of directors of the Arizona Charter School Association and on a committee of the State Board for Charter Schools. Chan said Mohave County has a large number of students enrolled in charter schools when comparing facilities of 100-200 to larger schools in the Phoenix area. The market share of charter school students there is about 8 percent, she said.

A total of 29 cities or counties are lumped into the Top 10 due to multiple ties in several places. New Orleans led the nation with a whopping 57 percent of the market share - 14,822 students in charter schools compared to 11,343 in non-charters. Southfield, Mich., Dayton, Ohio, and Washington, D.C., tied for second at 27 percent.

In garnering its 13 percent market share, Mohave County tied with Camden, N.J.; St. Paul, Minn.; Philadelphia; Columbus, Ohio; Vista, Calif.; Saginaw, Mich.; Napa Valley, Calif.; and Appleton, Wis.

Mohave County has 3,572 students enrolled in charter schools and 24,383 in non-charters.

Arizona had the fourth-largest charter enrollment in the country, however, Mohave County was the only location in our state to make the list. The survey methodology states that enrollment data was gathered from state department of education personnel and databases and staff in the state charter association and resource center.

In most states, the market share was expressed as a percentage of public school students in a given community attending public charter schools. But Arizona organizes its date by county, rather than community, and that may have skewed the data.

"For us, I believe, it does because Kingman has 19 percent of the student population (for the county), but the study indicated it looked at populations with at least 10,000 public school students," Chan said. "Kingman doesn't have that number, but Mohave County does."

Is Arizona likely to move up nationally from its No. 4 ranking? "There are several charter schools opening next year and quite a few applications before the State Board for Charter Schools," Chan said.

"Places like California and New Orleans hit by Hurricane Katrina are places that will get bigger and bigger in charter school enrollment," Chan said. "Arizona will always be one of the top states because we have such a supportive law. However, I can't imagine we would move above No. 4 because we're competing with states with a lot more students." Chan found the survey gratifying. She said it shows what the KAOL does is needed and appreciated by parents.

To view the full study listing, visit http://publiccharterschools.org/content