News: Quick Takes

‘Achievement School District’ Plan Gets House Committee Nod

If approved, measure would have state take over up to five of the worst-performing schools

A state House committee on Wednesday voted unanimously to advance a bill creating an “achievement school district” that is intended to boost North Carolina’s lowest performing schools.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Rob Bryan, R-Mecklenburg, proposes a special Achievement School District that would take over operations of as many as five schools from the state’s bottom 5 percent and allow nongovernmental operators — such as charter school management organizations — to run them instead.

The bill also includes a proposal to establish “Innovation Zones,” which would allow administrators of struggling schools more flexibility to manage programs, staffing, funding, and calendar, even though those schools would remain under district control.

“My goal and my passion for this is making sure that we don’t have another three, five, 10 years of kids sitting, watching another generation of kids not get the education they need to be successful when they get out of K-12 in North Carolina,” Bryan said before committee members.

Bryan’s bill now moves to the House Committee on K-12 Education, where it will face a complex and “micromanaged” discussion, said Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union. If the bill passes during the short legislative session, which opens April 25, the ASD process is unlikely to be in place until the 2018-19 school year, Bryan said.

“People in my community have a sense of urgency,” said Rep. Cecil Brockman, D-Guilford, in response to Bryan’s timeline. “[In my district] there are schools that have been failing for years. Those people can’t wait. Those parents can’t wait for us to fix the problem. And it’s not a Republican problem. It’s not a Democratic problem. It’s our problem. It affects us all. And it’s something that we need to handle with a sense of urgency.”

To read more background about North Carolina’s ASD proposal, click here.