School board to discuss becoming ‘renewal district’

Published 12:10 am Sunday, June 17, 2018

By Rebecca Rider

SALISBURY — The Rowan Salisbury Board of Education will spend a portion of its meeting Monday discussing the possibility of becoming a “renewal district.”

The bill — House Bill 986 — passed the N.C. General Assembly Thursday, and would allow school districts to apply for charter-like flexibility. If approved, that flexibility would give all 35 Rowan-Salisbury Schools control over calendars, staffing and give the district control over some funding sources.

State Sen. Michael Lee, a Republican representing New Hanover County, championed the Renewal School System concept, seeking to address the rise of restart schools in the state.

At Monday’s monthly business meeting, the Rowan-Salisbury Board will consider approving a resolution to become a renewal district.

Currently, 16 of Rowan-Salisbury’s 35 schools qualify as “restart schools,” a model which gives continually low-performing schools charter-like flexibility. A continually low-performing school is one that has been designated low-performing by the State Board of Education for at least two of three consecutive years.

However, the district has run into a few road blocks. In the North district, North Rowan Elementary and North Rowan High School are both restart schools, but North Middle is not. In recent discussions about aligning North High’s calendar, it became clear that more needed to be done to ensure families weren’t juggling multiple different school schedules.

According to the drafted resolution, the district is applying for renewal because it “has a duty to the local community and the state to prepare its students to be 21st Century career and college ready and … maximizing local flexibility increases Rowan-Salisbury Schools’ ability to meet its obligations to both the community, the state and federal government regarding student preparation.”

In order to qualify for renewal for the 2018-19 school year, the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education would also need to submit a renewal plan to the State Board of Education by July 15. The board’s resolution implies that, should it be approved, Rowan-Salisbury Schools would be North Carolina’s first renewal district.

The legislation was introduced to the General Assembly to clarify reporting requirements on the teaching of cursive writing and multiplication tables. As it passed from the House of Representatives to the Senate, more changes were added to education law.

Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education discussions are expected to continue through June 28. The board will meet Monday in the Wallace Educational Forum board room, 500 N. Main St. The meeting begins at 4 p.m. with closed session. Celebrations will be held at 5 p.m. and public comment at 6 p.m.

In other business the board will:

  • Hear about the opportunity for an Innovative Academy Grant.
  • Discuss the possibility of a parking expansion for the Wallace Educational Forum.
  • Discuss creating a new accountability framework for students and schools.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.