VIRGINIA BEACH - The Virginia Beach school board Tuesday night voted to open the city's first public charter school.

The vote was unanimous.

Green Run Collegiate, inside Green Run High School, will be an academically-challenging college prep school, officials say.

Virginia Beach schools will still run and fund the charter school. However, the charter will have its own board of governors that will determine the direction, set up and planning for the school. This differs from the rest of Virginia Beach schools, which are controlled by the school board.

'Charter schools have more flexibility than most state public schools,' saysVirginia Beach Schools spokesperson Jeff Barba.

He explains charter schools can apply for specific charter funding grants and can bypass some state education rules.

'They can start before Labor Day if they want. Charters can extend the school day; they can tweak the curriculum to match the students' needs.'

Green Run Collegiate will house three components of the International Baccalaureate: IB middle years for 9th and 10th graders, the IB diploma program and the IB career related certificate, where students can get technical industry certification.

Rising 9th graders who want to enroll will enter a lottery to get a spot. 100 students will be accepted the first year this fall.

Principal George Parker calls it a 'unique challenge' to open a school inside his school. He says there's room for both and he thinks it will be a great opportunity for students.

School officials say they will add up to 100 additional students and one grade level each year until a full nine 12 secondary program is in place.

The Virginia Board of Education had already voted unanimously that the Green Run Collegiate (GRC) public charter school application meets all the state criteria for a high quality charter school application.

A public charter school is an independent public school allowed to be more innovative and flexible while still held accountable by the school division for improving student achievement. For example, such flexibility could include offering different curriculum, developing its own school calendar and holding classes outside of the traditional school day. The responsibility for staffing and oversight of day to day operations will be guided by the Green Run Collegiate Governing Board.

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