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State Board of Education to talk charter takeover program Wednesday

State Board of Education Chair Bill Cobey

North Carolina’s top public school board, the State Board of Education, will get an update this week on the state’s Innovative School District (ISD), which is hoping to launch a charter takeover of one struggling school in Robeson County this year.

The controversial program, backed by most GOP legislators in the N.C. General Assembly, would allow takeover by one education management group—either a for-profit outfit out of Michigan or a group with ties to a smorgasbord of the state’s school choice champions.

The board will hear from ISD Superintendent Eric Hall, who is expected to present a pending report to a joint legislative committee in mid-January. 

ISD Superintendent Eric Hall

Local school board members in Robeson County are slated to take a vote this month on whether to transfer control of a Rowland school, Southside-Ashpole Elementary, to the state district.

The proposal received a chilly reception initially, although local officials have seemingly backed off on an earlier threat to close the elementary.

The county’s decision is pivotal, given a decision to close would leave the ISD with no schools to operate in the 2018-2019 school year.

State officials are contracting with a third-party organization, School Works, to evaluate the prospective management groups in the running for the program’s first year.

Supporters of the ISD have long said an organization’s track record of success working with struggling students may play a large part in determining the state board’s selection this year.

Hall is expected to make his recommendation on the operator in February, with a final contract inked in the spring.

Check back with Policy Watch Wednesday for updates on the state board’s monthly meeting.

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