State eyes local school for takeover


Staff Writer

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The chance that Williford Elementary School will be selected for inclusion in the N.C. Innovative School District is much higher now that the state has released a shortened list of six schools still under consideration.

Eric Hall, superintendent of the newly created Innovative School District announced Friday an updated list of schools that qualify for inclusion in the statewide school district that will begin operation next year, and Williford Elementary School is on that list. The Innovative School District will now begin the task of narrowing that list to two recommended schools, which will be announced by Oct. 15. The N.C. State Board of Education is slated to give final approval to the selections by Dec. 15.

"Mrs. Wilson and I received notification from Dr. Hall about the selection of Williford Elementary for further consideration today,” said Dr. Shelton Jefferies, superintendent of Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools. “We welcome the opportunity to become more informed about the next phase of the process. Our commitment to the students, families and professionals assigned to Williford Elementary remains unchanged. We will continue to work every day to provide our students with the best educational experience possible."

Since the original list of 48 schools was released on Sept. 7, the Innovative School District reviewed and analyzed the data from the last school year and trend data from the most recent three years, according to a statement released Friday by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. The Innovative School District used several factors in determining which schools should be removed from the original list.

Schools were removed from the list if they currently receiving funding through federal School Improvement Grants, had a D rating in the 2016-17 school year, met growth in the past year, or met academic growth in both 2014-15 and 2015-16 and earned a D school performance grade in both 2014-15 and 2015-16. Schools were also removed if they are in a district with less than 35 percent of its schools designated as low performing. 

Stocks Elementary School in Edgecombe County was on the list released earlier this month but was removed from the list because it met growth last year.

After applying those considerations, six school remain on the list, including Williford Elementary School, one Northampton County school, two Durham County schools and two Robeson County schools. When considering schools for final selection, Hall also will factor in that the initial Innovative School District must contain one rural and one urban school and cannot include more than one school from a single school district. Since only four school districts are included on the revised list, Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools statistically has a 25 percent chance of having Williford Elementary School selected.

If a school is selected for inclusion in the Innovative School District, the school district will have the option to close the qualifying school, transfer the school into the Innovative School District or set up an innovation zone for up to three continually low-performing schools within its district. Schools placed in the Innovative School District would be turned over to the control of a state-assigned charter management organization or education management organization for five years or more.

Created in 2017, the Innovative School District is charged with working with local communities to design and implement strategies for school improvement, creating innovative conditions and accelerating student achievement, the press release said.