Forty-eight schools spread across 21 districts make up those elementary schools eligible for inclusion in the first year of North Carolina’s controversial charter takeover model, according to a list released Thursday by state officials.
The program, dubbed the Innovative School District (formerly the Achievement School District), would launch with two schools in the 2018-2019 school year.
It would potentially allow for-profit, charter management organizations to assume control of low-performing schools, part of a series of controversial reforms backed by Republicans leadership in the N.C. General Assembly and school choice advocates.
The list released Thursday does not guarantee any school will be selected for the district, district Superintendent Eric Hall said, only that it may be considered further going forward. Districts were spread across the state, although districts such as Durham, Forsyth and Robeson included a number of eligible schools.
State officials are expected to narrow down that list in the coming months, with members of the State Board of Education expected to make a final selection in December.
“These are schools that we’re going to be working hand-in-hand with for sustainable change,” Hall said Thursday.
Multiple board members expressed confidence this week in Hall, the former leader of the nonprofit Communities in Schools North Carolina.
“I think North Carolina’s going to do this better than any other state that’s done it,” said board member Becky Taylor.
Eligible schools named Thursday all met a number of qualifications for inclusion, Hall said, including school performance grades in the bottom 5 percent of schools statewide. Such schools would also have to fail to meet or exceed growth goals in the previous three academic years.
Hall added Thursday that district leadership for eligible schools have already been notified.
The district plan would allow five-year contracts for operations with charter and education management organizations, with annual checkups on progress.
Charter takeover is not the sole component of the district, as Hall pointed out. The district will also encompass so-called “Innovation Zones” or “I-Zones,” in which selected low-performing schools could be granted charter-like flexibility in hopes of improving performance.
Continue to follow Policy Watch for developments in the Innovative School District.