Education

53 apply to be superintendent of NC's new Achievement School District

Posted September 26

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— Fifty-three people from across the country have applied to be superintendent of North Carolina's newest school system, known as the Achievement School District, which will serve students in some of the state's lowest-performing schools.

A selection advisory committee appointed by Lt. Gov. Dan Forest has been interviewing candidates and is expected to make a recommendation to the State Board of Education by next week. The state board will have the final say in who is hired.

Classroom 5 things to know about NC's new Achievement School District

"We can’t get into specifics, but we have a very diverse group of candidates from across the country that have experience in turning around all types of public schools," Jamey Falkenbury, the lieutenant governor's press secretary, told WRAL News by email.

According to the state's job posting, the ASD superintendent will earn between $80,000 and $140,000 per year and must be a visionary education leader.

The goal of the new Achievement School District is to take five of the state's lowest-performing public elementary schools and put them under new management. Outside entities, such as charter school operators, will take control of the schools and supervise, manage and operate them with the goal of improving their performance.

Since state lawmakers passed a bill in June creating the ASD, many have questioned how the five schools will be chosen, when the takeover will occur and what happens if a school district doesn't want to relinquish control of its school.

The State Board of Education will select which schools are included based on recommendations from the new superintendent. The board has not released an official list of the schools that will be considered. However, the law states that for a school to be considered, it must meet certain qualifications, such as:

  • Include some or all of grades K-5
  • Have a school performance score in the lowest 5 to 10 percent of all schools in the past year
  • Did not exceed or meet growth on test scores in at least one of the past three years
  • Has not adopted one of the state's school turnaround plans

The five schools that are chosen must come from five different school districts.

Adam Levinson, chief of staff for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, told WRAL News by email that he has "not heard from any school systems indicating they do or do not want to be considered for the ASD."

"We will create a list (of eligible schools) once the superintendent has been hired and determines the when the ASD will begin operation," Levinson wrote. "As (State Board of Education) Chairman (Bill) Cobey stated, a list created in the absence of the decision to begin in 2017-18 would be hypothetical, and we do not want to deal in hypotheticals."

The State Board of Education can launch the ASD as early as next school year for 2017-18. Or, it can wait until the 2018-19 school year. The board has not made a decision yet.

If the board waits to launch until 2018-19, it must have at least two of the five schools selected. The full ASD, with all five schools, must be operating by the 2019-20 school year.

North Carolina lawmakers set up the new school district as a pilot program. It's designed to last five years with a possible three-year extension if a school needs more time to make improvement.

Once the state board selects a school for inclusion in the ASD, the local board of education that runs the school has two options – agree to relinquish control of the school or close it down.

At last month's state school board meeting, the lieutenant governor said he expects "some turf wars" but added that the state needed to take this "calculated risk" to help low-performing schools.

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