New K-12 Charter School Coming To Smithfield

SMITHFIELD – A new charter school will be opening next year in Smithfield. American Leadership Academy (ALA) Johnston, a K-12 charter school, will have a maximum enrollment of 1,950 students.

ALA Johnston Charter School will be built in time for the opening of the 2022-2023 school year. It will be located on Highway 70 West (W. Market Street) just west of Cloverdale Drive.

ALA Johnston will have two school buildings, a K-7 grade school and 8-12 grade high school. Each school will have its own play area and green space, with their own drop off areas. There will be a common parking lot with a looped drive around the school and a shared bus drop-off/service area. A large stadium will be located to the rear of the lot. School leaders said plans are still preliminary and the layout is subject to change.

Representatives with ALA Johnston received conditional rezoning approval August 3rd from the Smithfield Town Council for a 48.7 acre tract of land. The property will also be annexed into the town limits.

Town officials said they will have to work out details on fire protection for the site. The vacant land is currently served by the Wilson’s Mills Fire Department. Officials said Wilson’s Mills Fire would respond within the city limits of Smithfield to the new charter school, instead of the Smithfield Fire Department, unless an agreement is worked out between the fire departments. Town attorney Bob Spence was asked to look into the matter.

Mayor Andy Moore said he was concerned about traffic backing up onto Highway 70 in the morning and afternoon and wanted to make sure the driveway was engineered to stack cars in the parking lot to prevent any traffic issues.

ALA Johnston anticipates opening in the fall of 2022 with 1,450 students. By the second year enrollment will grown to 1,650 students, and eventually max out at 1,950.

Athletics will be offered based upon student interest. That may include baseball, softball, football, soccer, track and field, and gymnastics.


  1. I am glad to see this, but what our School Board Member’s AKA the “ Squad of CRT Cults” don’t care about is only the poorer kids and minority kids will be left in their cess-pool the likes of Durham City. Parents, would you ever have thought that these fine citizens of our County that serve on this school board would have ever soaked your children in the thrash that they intend too. It would take good decent persons on this school board to come out and assure parents that the thrash of other liked minded school boards that has made the news in other places will be kept out of our schools?

  2. This maybe the beginning of the end of South Smithfield Elementary,Smithfield Middle and Smithfield Selma High School.Or is this some type of new Segregation.Although I praised that our school system expanding but with Neuse Charter already in Smithfield this new K-12 charter school maybe the final nail in the coffin for traditional schools

  3. I am not surprised!! I expect a K-12 private school to open in JoCo at some point also. JoCo BOE / public education & government are ruining education for our youth. A previous post said something about schools becoming segregated again…. That is EXACTLY what is happening. Middle class, upper class, average students & advanced students will get out of public education. Public school will be left for special education and low achieving. … that is where all of the funding goes anyway!
    I can’t tell you how many meetings for special education and low achieving students that I have sat in. These meetings often have numerous teachers and county representatives discussing how to address the students’s needs/better serve the student. I have NEVER been asked to sit in a meeting about how to better serve a high achieving student. Academically gifted students are neglected in this system.
    I hope the gifted students are able to get into good charter or private schools so they can get what they need. With another charter school opening… this means that more JCPS teachers will be leaving for a better environment.
    Public education and especially JCPS are failing middle of the road to higher achieving students. It is a real shame.

    • This is exactly why we left and now homeschool! My high achieving students were being stifled! When I told my kids teachers at the school we were going to homeschool they said it was the best thing I could do for them so they can get the level of education they deserved. Teachers are having to spend too much time dealing with the low end of their classes the top end gets left out.

    • Great points…..thankful that my AIG kid was able to attend the Middle College High school and JCC classes at the same time. It was a lifesaver for him.

    • As a parent to two gifted children, I have sat in many school meetings at public schools in JoCo where teachers explained how they were helping my children thrive. I don’t think they’re being neglected and it saddens me that you seem to think it has to be an either/or situation with gifted or special needs.
      There is certainly room for improvement in our schools but opening more charters makes it harder to achieve.

  4. The more charter/private schools we have the better.
    Once you have some competition it causes the losing team to step up their game. Until now there has been no need for joco board of Ed to step up their game. They need a competitor to make them hire a better coach and change their whole model and way of thinking.
    It will make the big spending, wasteful, politicians/school boards that have ruined public schools mainly because of allowing to much development and not enough space to put our kids in actually have to be held accountable for each dollar they spend.
    The problem is no one that’s in charge of public schools are spending there own money( other than than their own tax dollars). They are spending our money! So they don’t care how it is spent, no matter what they say. The great thing with private schools is they don’t have an entire government telling them how to allocate money(other than some regulations). Plus a private school can hire and fire teachers/staff as they see fit. There should be no such thing as tenure.
    Would you want someone to come into your house and tell you how to run your house hold and how to spend each paycheck and you couldn’t ever get rid of them?Of course not.

    So please look hard at who you vote for. Look at their voting history. Call and email them and ask them how they will vote on private schools. How about mask/vaccine choice, sports, tickets at gates or on line.
    Please don’t be brainwashed by the media because the media are just everyday people like me and you and they definitely have their own biases on every topic. Research it as much as you can before making a decision.
    I love public schools. I am a proud product of one and would not change that fact. However if my kids were 4/5 yrs old now I would be seriously considering private school.

    Bottom line is the more choice the better. It makes everyone work harder for the benefit of society.

  5. Well, it is happening! Indoctrination is causing the failing of our schools! Parents that want their kids to succeed in academics don’t want anyone indoctrinating their kids or teaching them what to think, instead of how to think. You have only the liberal agenda to blame. However, you will find the well to do liberals will be sending their kids to private school……hypocrites!

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