News: Quick Takes

Two education groups in running to manage Southside Ashpole Elementary

Innovative School District Superintendent Eric Hall said Achievement for All Children and the Romine Group are in the running to manage Southside Ashpole Elementary, North Carolina’s first Innovative School District school.

SchoolWorks, an independent third-party agency, was hired to evaluate the applicants. Hall made the announcement during the N.C. State Board of Education meeting Dec. 6.

The ISD — originally called the Achievement School District — places the lowest-performing schools in North Carolina under management of charter or education organizations. The goal is to improve student performance through greater flexibility. Either Achievement for All Children or the Romine Group will contract with the SBE for five years to manage Southside Ashpole.

The deadline for operators to apply for the ISD was Dec. 1., but only two organizations submitted applications. This was expected, Hall said, because the ISD program is fairly new.

The Romine Group, a charter school management group from Utica, Michigan, operates more than two dozen schools. Founded by John Romine in 1996, it’s accredited through AdvancED, a nonprofit, nonpartisan accrediting agency.

Achievement for All Children is a nonprofit corporation in Charlotte. The CEO of the group, Tony Helton, is also the CEO of TeamCFA, a nonprofit network of public charter schools. The board of directors includes Darrell Allison, founding president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina; and former Mecklenburg Representative Rob Bryan, a Republican who led efforts to get the ISD bill through the General Assembly.

SchoolWorks is expected to complete its evaluation between Jan. 15 and Feb. 1. Hall will then choose who manages Southside Ashpole Elementary, but only if the Robeson County School Board approves a resolution transferring it to the ISD.

“Schoolworks will be reviewing and evaluating their applications, looking at their credibility, their capacity, and their history of success,” Hall explained. “My hope is that when we come back in January to report to the board … we will have an update on their evaluation.”

Hall said the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation would evaluate the impact of the ISD on school performance in the schools chosen for the program.