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UNC Charlotte plans to operate an elementary school that will be housed in the former Amay James Pre-K Center.

University of North Carolina Charlotte plans to open elementary in 2020

Dec. 18, 2019
The opening of Niner University Elementary was supposed to open earlier this year, but was delayed because of low enrollment.

After a one-year delay because of lower than expected enrollment, the University of North Carolina Charlotte’s new public elementary school is scheduled to open to students in August 2020 at the former Amay James Pre-K Center.

The Charlotte Observer reports that the school, dubbed Niner University Elementary, will be the first “lab school” in Charlotte. It is the sixth in the state to be created under a 2016 legislative initiative that seeks to pair University of North Carolina system universities with students at low-performing public schools.

“We’ve spent the last year refining an already strong academic program and plan of support for our students and families,” says Pamela Broome, the school’s principal. “We are thrilled to open Niner University Elementary at Amay James and look forward to working with and in this historic Charlotte community.”

The school had been slated to open in August 2019, but UNC Charlotte pushed back the opening after its recruitment efforts came up shorter than expected. The site of the school also changed, moving from a renovated wing of James Martin Middle School to Amay James.

The school will be will be independently operated by UNC Charlotte, but will be housed in a Charlotte-Mecklenburg County district facility and will receive other support services from the district, including transportation and meals.

The school expects to enroll 150 students in kindergarten through second grade in its first year, and plans to add an additional grade level each year until 2024, when it will serve 300 students at capacity through fifth grade.

The school's learning environment will focus on early childhood literacy and project-based instruction. The school also will take a “whole child” approach, emphasizing social emotional learning and mental health support, including play therapy.

The school will offer a training opportunity for future teachers through junior year internships to UNC Charlotte students as well as research opportunities for faculty members.

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