NEWS RELEASES 2017-18 :: JULY 6, 2017


New District to Administer Several Low-Performing Schools

The superintendent of North Carolina’s new statewide school district created to include some of the state’s lowest-performing schools outlined to the State Board of Education today the broad framework of the initiative, which is aimed at turning around a number of the state’s chronically struggling schools.

Eric Hall, who was named superintendent of the Achievement School District earlier this year, shared with the board his vision and emerging strategy for leading the effort, enacted by the General Assembly in 2016. Hall told the board that the new district – renamed the North Carolina Innovative School District – will follow a six-phase strategy during the 2017-18 school year prior to operating the first group of schools in the 2018-19 year.

During the coming school year, Hall said, the district will focus on reviewing school performance data to help identify schools for potential partnership with the Innovative School District (ISD). In addition to weighing student achievement data, Hall said that he and his team also will be conducting evaluations of qualifying schools to determine viable options for improving student outcomes in identified low-performing schools. This will help to determine if it is in the best interest of students and the local community to partner with the ISD or to consider other options, if available.

Hall said he anticipates selecting at least two schools for operation under the district in the 2018-19 school year and a total of five schools by 2019-20. All five will be elementary schools or include elementary grades.

List of Prospective Schools Expected in September

Hall told the board that he expects to release a list in September showing prospective schools that qualify for the ISD based on school performance data from 2016-17 and recent years. He will then work with local districts and communities to determine a final selection of schools for the State Board of Education to approve by December.

Schools approved by the board will undergo six months of planning for transfer to the Innovative School District, for which Hall will be selecting a charter or educational management organization (CMO/EMO) to operate the school for a period of five to eight years under contract with the State Board of Education. Schools operating under the new district, in partnership with the local school districts and community, will be known as “Innovative Schools.”

As planning continues for the ISD, Hall will be working to identify qualified charter and education management organizations with an interest in partnering with the state, the local communities and the schools to ensure that the goals of the initiative are met. Hall said he expects that final CMO/EMO partners will be selected no later than January 2018 so that planning can start quickly for schools transferring to the ISD in 2018-19.

In his presentation to the board, Hall also proposed a draft of the ISD’s mission statement: “We create innovative conditions within low-performing schools in partnership with communities across North Carolina focused on improving equity and opportunity through high expectations for student achievement.” As a starting point, Hall said, the statement places a strong emphasis on partnerships and parents.

“It is important that we partner with local schools, our districts, communities and parents to ensure that a comprehensive strategy is designed in collaboration toward a common vision for student success,” Hall said. “The opportunities that we have to drive meaningful and sustainable impact is significant, and as we work toward success hand-in-hand with our local communities, I am convinced that we can serve as national role models in how people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives can come together to help amplify student achievement in school.”

Innovation Zone Provides Additional Support for Districts with ISD Schools

In addition to providing information about the process for identifying prospective schools, Hall told the board that an additional provision of the 2016 law allows for the creation of an Innovation Zone or I-Zone within local school districts with low-performing schools included in the project to receive additional support.

The I-Zone is a strategy that provides a group of low-performing schools within a local district the opportunity to benefit from additional flexibilities, often aligned with those provided to charter schools in the state. These zones and their schools are established and managed by a separate division in the local district, using matching funds from the state of up to $150,000.

This I-Zone office will be managed by an executive director and support team that is solely focused on the improvement of this group of schools in a local district. An I-Zone is administered and controlled by the local district, or other innovative strategies may be designed to ensure that the schools in the zone operate with a great deal of autonomy and support from the I-Zone office. I-Zones are created for a period of five years, with options to extend if outcomes are proving effective.

Some of the additional flexibilities may include scheduling, calendar, curriculum and even staffing flexibility, so that the professionals at the school-level and within the I-Zone can work together to create conditions for accelerating student and school success. The process for launching an I-Zone would align with the development of the innovative schools, with planning during the 2017-18 school year and operations starting in 2018-19.

Click here for more information about the NC Innovative School District.


About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.