State OKs Nash-Rocky Mount restart request


Staff Writer

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools recently was approved by the State Board of Education for a restart application for Baskerville, D.S. Johnson and Englewood elementary schools.

School officials said the district has been engaged in a concerted effort to increase the quality of teaching and learning in the district since a district turn-around process began with the appointment of Superintendent Dr. Shelton Jefferies after the district was identified as a low-performing district by North Carolina’s Assessment Program in 2014.

Officials said among the school district’s 28 schools, more than 50 percent failed to meet performance goals in 2014.

Jefferies said the three schools will be designated as inquiry centers in the restart program. The restart flexibility will address students’ ability to learn, and inquiry centers will drive instructional practice throughout the school, he added.

Officials said the state’s restart program allows some of the lowest-performing public schools the flexibility to make changes for the purpose of increasing student performance. Jefferies said a four-year implementation plan for the restart program at the three schools will begin with a planning year in 2018-19 and a year one restart model in 2019-20.

“The focus of the inquiry centers involving Baskerville, D.S. Johnson and Englewood elementary schools will provide tools and training for administrators and teachers in designing the highest quality learning environment as possible,” Jefferies said.

Several community partners such as Communities in Schools, Participate, College Board Advance Placement and the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tar River Region will aide in the process. Officials said school-embedded supports will include a comprehensive school improvement framework, a common instructional framework and a district turnaround process.

School officials said the innovative school reform methods will allow Wiliford Elementary School students in grades third through fifth to be transferred. Williford Elementary School will become a pre-kindergarten through second-grade school.

The Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education earlier this year approved the reassignment of 207 Wiliford Elementary School students in second, third and fourth grades to D.S. Johnson, Baskerville Elementary and Englewood Elmentary schools for the upcoming school year.

Last year, Williford Elementary School was taken off the list to be included in the N.C. Innovative School District, which is a state-controlled school district designed to offer intensive intervention to the state’s lowest-performing schools.

“The research led us to focus on a couple things such as early childhood literacy and early access to mental and physical care,” Jefferies said. “We had to reconstruct the school. We had to remove students from grades 3, 4 and 5 in Wiliford and reassign them to Baskerville, Englewood and D.S. Johnson. The jeopardy is because some of those students are at high risk, you’ve got to protect those schools, too. The restart program protects those schools from ever being considered on the (Innovative School District) list.”

A school-based health clinic will be added to Wiliford Elementary for the upcoming 2018-19 academic year. Jefferies said the addition of the clinic is in response to chronic absenteeism being a major issue in the school district, with a lack of access to physical and mental health care being contributing factors.

Jefferies said health is a leading cause of absenteeism. The school-based health clinic will allow the district to work with community groups such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tar River Region and the Opportunities Industrialization Center.

“OIC is thankful that Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools have given us an opportunity to provide quality, affordable and comprehensive health services to the students and their families who attend and support Williford Elementary School,” said OIC president Reuben Blackwell. “We will offer our full array of health services, including primary care, integrated behavioral health and dental care to residents of South Rocky Mount in a safe and supportive environment. We’ll be open for business there at the school in August and scale up our services as the students and community need us. Every child is valuable and every life has potential. OIC is here to help Williford and South Rocky Mount succeed and prosper.”