Axios Raleigh

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March 20, 2024

🍃 Welcome to a springtime Wednesday.

🌬️ Weather: Sunny with a high near 72°. Gusts up to 22 mph.

Today's Smart Brevity™️ count is 729 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Where NC's school vouchers go

North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship program amounts and recipients
Data: North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority; Table: Axios Visuals

Public funding for a private school education is open to all North Carolina families. But many of the state's top private schools don't accept it.

Why it matters: Families rushed to apply for state funding last month, with a record nearly 72,000 submitting new applications. There likely won't be enough money to cover every applicant.

Catch up quick: North Carolina lawmakers approved a state budget last September that included a controversial change that increased public dollars for private school tuition to $293.5 million for the upcoming school year.

By the numbers: The number of students receiving vouchers for the 2022-23 school year increased from 25,568 statewide to 32,511 for 2023-2024.

  • North Carolina has 884 private schools, 143 of which are located in Wake, Durham and Orange counties, according to state data.

Yes, but: Only 101 of those Triangle schools accept Opportunity Scholarships, according to the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority.

Between the lines: Ravenscroft School and Cary Academy are among those that do not accept the scholarships, though both offer their own forms of financial assistance.

The intrigue: Religious schools will feel the greatest impact from Opportunity Scholarship expansion, UNC Charlotte professor Jason Giersch told Axios. These schools tend to have lower tuition.

  • The top recipients of Opportunity Scholarships in Wake County, for example, were all religious schools: Al-Iman School ($1.1 million), Raleigh Christian Academy ($758,000), St. Raphael's Catholic School ($699,000) and Wake Christian Academy ($610,000).

Go deeper on the debate for and against vouchers

2. Chart du jour: Triangle public school attendance

Change in North Carolina public school enrollment, select districts
Data: N.C. Department of Public Instruction; Table: Axios Visuals

Enrollment at North Carolina's public schools has declined in recent years, while staying flat within the Wake County Public School System.

Why it matters: Public school enrollment helps determine how much funding the state allocates to districts.

What's happening: Enrollment numbers have been influenced by many factors, from pandemic disruption to a growing interest in charter schools, private schools and homeschooling, EducationNC reported.

3. Raleigh City Council moves to change term lengths

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Raleigh City Council wants to make its term lengths longer.

Why it matters: Raleigh's mayor and City Council currently serve two-year terms, with all eight members elected at once.

  • The council is considering a change that would give its members and the mayor four-year terms and create staggered elections starting in 2026.
  • It is also considering potentially adding more seats to the council.

Zoom out: Many cities throughout the state give their councilmembers four-year, staggered terms, including Durham — though its mayor still only serves two-year terms.

Flashback: This would be just the latest change to local elections if enacted.

  • In 2021, Raleigh's local elections were moved from odd-numbered years to even-numbered years, which the City Council at the time described as an effort to increase turnout.

What's next: The city will hold a public hearing on lengthening terms on April 2, the City Council decided on Tuesday.

Read more about the city's term limit considerations

4. The Tea: St. Aug's sending students home

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

🎓 St. Augustine's University, which is facing significant financial struggles, is switching to remote learning and sending students home by April 3. (WRAL)

🍺 Leesville Tap Room in North Raleigh has closed after 10 years due to a family illness. (News & Observer 🔒)

🗳️ The Constitution Party is close to securing access on North Carolina's ballots this November, potentially adding another third-party candidate for voters to choose from. (WUNC)

⚽️ European soccer powerhouses Real Madrid and Chelsea will play at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on Aug. 6. (Axios)

5. European soccer champs coming to Chapel Hill

Manchester City player Erling Haaland shoots at goal during the Emirates FA Cup Quarter Final match between Manchester City and Newcastle United. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images

English and Scottish soccer titans meet in Chapel Hill this summer when Manchester City takes on Celtic FC at Kenan Stadium on July 23.

Why it matters: The friendly match is expected to draw international attention and tens of thousands of fans to the college town.

  • Kenan Stadium hosted a Chelsea vs. Wrexham match last year in front of a sold-out crowd of 50,596, WNCN reported.

The big picture: The Man City vs. Celtic match is part of the 2024 FC Series, a collection of friendly matches featuring top global soccer clubs.

  • Tickets will go on sale via Ticketmaster on Wednesday, March 27, at 10am.
  • Other U.S. cities hosting the friendlies include New York, Orlando and Columbus.

Read more about the highly anticipated friendly

🍦 Zachery is shocked to learn from reporter Jadyn Watson-Fisher that Kevin Keatts doesn't even eat ice cream.

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This newsletter was edited by Katie Peralta Soloff and copy edited by Lucia Maher.