News: Quick Takes

Carver Heights will become a restart school instead of transferring to the ISD

Instead of joining the Innovative School District, Carver Heights Elementary will become a restart school.

The move is part of an effort to turn around the school’s chronic low performance.

On Thursday, Jan. 10, the State Board of Education approved Wayne County Public Schools’ application to make Carver Heights Elementary a restart school.

Originally, Carver Heights was slated to become the second school to join the ISD alongside Robeson County’s Southside Ashpole. The school has the opportunity to avoid that fate, thanks to a law passed by the General Assembly before the holidays.

Senate Bill 469, a technical corrections bill, features a provision permitting Wayne County Public Schools to submit a restart school application for Carver Heights in lieu of handing the reins to the ISD.

The troubled elementary school isn’t out of the woods. If Carver Heights fails to improve under the restart school model by the end of 2020-21, then it would transfer to the ISD.

Lawmakers created the ISD — first called the Achievement School District — in 2016. The program aims to turn around chronically low performing schools by allowing an outside entity, such as a education management organization, to operate the school for five years. This new operator is given more flexibility in how the school is run, whether by adopting a new curriculum or by adding additional class time to the standard school day.

Similarly, the restart model grants low performing schools charter-like flexibility to help them improve poor academic performance and stagnating growth. The main difference between the restart model and the ISD is that the local school district maintains control over a restart school.

James Ellerbee, assistant director of district and regional support, told SBE members what changes Carver Heights is looking to enact.

“They are requesting four flexibilities,” James Ellerbee said. “The four flexibilities are in budget, calendar, curriculum, and in licensure.”

Some of the changes include adding 30 minutes to every instructional day, adding five professional development days for staff starting in the summer of 2019, and providing stipends for teachers to attend professional development events. Under the restart model, WCPS plans to implement a master teacher program to help coach beginning teachers and incorporate a balanced literacy approach to the curriculum.