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School board OKs Williford restart

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

NASHVILLE — The Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education met in a special called meeting on Monday night to approve a possible restart model for Williford Elementary School, to discuss the possible loss of 13 instructional personnel and to approve a budget request to be presented tonight to Nash County commissioners.

The school board approved a decision to request state approval to place Williford Elementary School under a restart model for the coming academic year. The restart model, if approved, would grant the school charter flexibility in areas such as funding, calendar, personnel and curriculum.

Dr. Shelton Jefferies, superintendent of Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools, said the decision makes sense because the school district already has several changes in mind to help address the needs of the school, which has a high-poverty population and relatively low attendance rates.

In a later interview, Jefferies said it would likely take at least two months to learn if the state will approve the restart model for the school. If approved, the status as a restart school could, under the current legislation, protect Williford from consideration for the Achievement School Zone, a battle that the school faced last fall. However, Jefferies said the decision to apply for restart status was not based on that consideration.

“That would not be the motivation. The motivation for this is that we think we can improve academic program under the restart model. That would be the driving force — not to avoid any sanction,” Jefferies said.

In a related issue, the school board also approved the drawing up of a memorandum of understanding with the Opportunities Industrialization Center and the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Tar River Region. The memorandum, which has not yet been created, will help achieve a goal of creating a school-based health clinic at Williford Elementary.

Also during the meeting, Brian Miller, chief of staff for Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools, said the school district will likely lose eight instructional coach positions and five positions related to academically or intellectually gifted education. These positions may be reassigned under a proposed restructuring of these positions.

Jefferies said the losses are due to budgetary constraints and the challenge of meeting the needs of students at both ends of the academic spectrum.

“Our dollars are both fixed and finite,” Jefferies said. “We are in state of austerity, and it is a challenge to meet the goals of equity and excellence.”

The school board also approved a local budget request that will be presented to Nash County commissioners tonight at the joint meeting of the two boards. The school board plans to ask for an increase of $1,380,979 over Nash County’s current budget for Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools.

The increase would be requested because of an estimated $1,245,979 increase in salary and benefits caused by increases in salaries at the state level. Another $135,000 increase would be to protect principals and assistant principals from losing money under the new state-mandate principal salary schedule.

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