Members of the North Carolina State Board of Education unanimously voted Thursday afternoon to allow a low-performing elementary school in Goldsboro to remain under local control.
Last week, Wayne County Schools resubmitted its ‘Restart’ application to turn around Carver Heights Elementary School. The state board decided last month to transfer the school to the Innovative School District, a program created in 2016 that places consistently low-performing schools under the control of outside groups, such as a business or non-profit, in an effort to improve student success. Southside-Ashpole Elementary School in Robeson County is, so far, the only school operating under the program.
Days after the board’s decision, state lawmakers passed a bill allowing the local district to resubmit its Restart application instead of proceeding with its transfer to the ISD. At yesterday’s state board meeting, James Ellerbe, district transformation coach with the department of public instruction, recommended members approve the application.
During his presentation, he cited the district’s recent efforts to improve the school, including its decision last October to hire Patrice Faison, a former Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year award recipient, to implement her strategies for success.
“They chose a principal who has a history for turning around low performing schools,” Ellerbe said. “One of the highlights of her career was the 19.4 percent growth in composite that she had with a school that she lead. And that was the greatest gain with both the district and the state of North Carolina.”
Ellerbe also spoke about other strategies the district has for fixing the school’s poor track record, including bringing in professionals from the community to tutor students in reading and math and adding more time to the school day.
"They have eliminated some of the transititions, which has approximately given them about 15 additional minutes in the class, as well as adding 15 minutes prior to school and 15 minutes after school, to give a total of between 30 and 45 minutes of additional instructional minutes during each day."
Now that the Restart application has been approved, the district will receive greater flexiblity with the school's budget, calendar, curriculum and licensure requirements for staff. The district plans to fund the changes with a federal School Improvement Grant that will expire after the 2020-2021 academic year.