MESSAGES 2014 :: OCTOBER 20, 2014

OCTOBER 20, 2014

Weekly Message for Superintendents: Monday, Oct. 20, 2014

As I am meeting with small groups of superintendents, one of the questions I have been asked is why did North Carolina apply for an Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waiver in 2013 and could local superintendents be more involved in the process?

Why did NC apply for an ESEA waiver? ESEA (formerly known as No Child Left Behind) required that all students and subgroups be at 100 percent proficiency by 2014. Without our current waiver, we project that more than 90 percent of our schools would be in some stage of sanctions including choice, supplementary education services, closure, etc. Even some of our highest-performing schools would have been in sanctions because they would not have met the 100 percent proficient target with every student in every subgroup. For example, an early college with 85 percent of its students at or above grade level and with a 100 percent graduation rate would still be in school improvement status if fewer than 100 percent of its students scored at proficient or better on each required assessment.

At the time we made the decision to apply for the waiver, we received widespread support for that decision from superintendents, principals and teachers, association leaders and others. The approximately 300-page waiver request we submitted was approved and will continue through June 2015 unless we ask to have it rescinded. Our staff remains neutral about whether we should have a waiver, but we are not neutral in believing that ESEA needs a major overhaul. If ESEA is not reauthorized by June 2015, we will need to make a decision about applying to continue our waiver beyond June 2015. I ask that you come to the December Superintendents' Quarterly meeting prepared to give us your advice and input.

The Legislative Request attachment gives you a summary of our current waiver components.

June Atkinson
State Superintendent

Legislative Request
(doc, 64kb)

Oct. 16 HB Biweekly Update
(pdf, 399kb)

Oct. 17 Web Highlights
(doc, 29kb)

School Mascots
(xls, 20kb)

NC Bus
(pdf, 368kb)

In this Weekly Superintendents' Message:

  1. Ebola Virus Information Available
  2. Accountability Updates Webinar Scheduled
  3. Physical Performance Standards for School Bus Drivers
  4. School Mascots Survey
  5. NCVPS Supports Districts, Schools and Students
  6. NC Ready for Success to Host Leadership Forums
  7. Academic Standards Review Commission Holds Second Meeting
  8. B&T Leadership Institute: Mastering Leadership Dynamics for Educational Leaders
  9. After-School Grant Web Resource Available
  10. Finance Officers' Newsletter Online
  11. Newton-Conover City Schools' Teacher Receives Milken Award

Ebola Virus Information Available

Concerns are mounting regarding the Ebola virus and possible impact on the United States. North Carolina at this point has no Ebola cases, and the two active cases that are in the United States are health care workers who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian patient diagnosed with the disease after he arrived in Texas. NC's Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and the NC Department of Public Safety have begun regular briefings and information sharing with state and local government officials, medical personnel and other key organizations. The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) has been participating also. NCDHHS has launched an Ebola web page to provide the latest information for our state. That site is at As events unfold, we will keep you informed of any news or any actions that should be taken as a result.

Accountability Updates Webinar Scheduled

Accountability Services Director Tammy Howard and other division staff are holding an Accountability Updates Webinar this Thursday, Oct. 23, from 1:30-3 p.m., to discuss participation for ACT WorkKeys, local alternatives for Read to Achieve, an Alternative Accountability Model, and Community Eligibility Provision. Reserve your Webinar seat now at After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

Physical Performance Standards for School Bus Drivers

For about two years, the Division of Motor Vehicles has worked with the Transportation Advisory Group, which is sponsored by the NC Pupil Transportation Association, on new physical performance standards for school bus drivers. These standards, based on procedures implemented in other states, are designed to test school bus drivers in basic functions of their job to ensure the safety of their student passengers. Once these standards are implemented, new school bus drivers will be tested by the Division of Motor Vehicles as part of the requirements to receive a school bus driver's certificate. Current school bus drivers will be tested at the time of their renewal. A copy of the standards is attached to this email. This latest draft is very similar to those shared with transportation directors and posted on the web site during the past two years. When an implementation date – anticipated to be early 2015 – is established, superintendents and transportation directors will be notified. Questions may be directed to Derek Graham at or 919. 807.3571.

School Mascots Survey

The Department of Public Instruction is compiling a list of mascots for public schools across the state. Using the attached spreadsheet template, please submit one list of all schools in your district and the name of the each school's mascot to Debora Williams at by Nov. 1.

NCVPS Supports Districts, Schools and Students

The North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS) provides a number of resources to help districts, schools and students. Determine which of the resources below best fit your needs:

  • NCVPS Virtual Support Center ( helps students, e-learning advisors, school and district staff personnel, NCVPS teachers, and parents get the answers to their questions.
  • NCVPS Instructors answer all instruction and grade-level questions.
  • E-learning Advisors assist students with registration and other school-based issues and questions.
  • Peer Tutoring is where students receive help from other students.
  • Outside Providers help with OSU's German courses.

For more details, visit the NCVPS Help page at

NC Ready for Success to Host Leadership Forums

NC Ready for Success is hosting a series of Leadership Forums for local superintendents and higher education chancellors/presidents/provosts/chief academic officers to review work accomplished and hone a vision for the future. The primary goal is to promote dialogue that provides feedback for policy recommendations and to continue to develop partnerships and strategies for maintaining such dialogue. The forums will be held Nov. 14 at UNC-Charlotte; Dec. 5 at James Sprunt Community College; and Feb. 6 at a location to be decided. For more information, including registration, please visit

Academic Standards Review Commission Holds Second Meeting

The Commission is meeting this afternoon from 1-5 p.m. in the Commission Room, 5th Floor, Administration Building, 116 W. Jones St., Raleigh. The purpose of the meeting is to continue the Commission's comprehensive review of all English Language Arts and Mathematics standards that were adopted by the State Board of Education under G.S. 115C-12(9c), and propose modifications to ensure that those standards meet all of the criteria listed in Section 2(c) of Senate Bill 812. The Commission has set its meetings for the third Mondays from 1-5 p.m., unless otherwise noticed.

BB&T Leadership Institute: Mastering Leadership Dynamics for Educational Leaders

The BB&T Leadership Institute's Mastering Leadership Dynamics for Educational Leaders is now open for registration. This is an exceptional leadership opportunity for school administrators. The program schedule and registration form are available online at Principals are encouraged to discuss possible participation with their superintendents to ensure support. It's important the timing of this program fits within the principal's overall development plan as a school leader. The program also requires dedicated time away from school, as well as a financial commitment for travel expenses only.

After-School Grant Web Resource Available

ou received information about the After-School Grants in a previous email, but there are now web resources available to support you in this application process. The resources are available online at

Finance Officers' Newsletter Online

The Oct. 17 edition of the Finance Officers' newsletter is online and contains the following items: BUD Adjustments – Salary Object Code 129, Summer Reading Camp Funds 2013-14, State Public School Fund Allotment Overdraft Reports (LEAs), Installment Collapse (LEAs), PRC 045 - Compensation Bonus (Legislated) – (LEAs), and Transportation Parts Inventory Training. To read more, please go to the NCDPI's Financial and Business Services Web site at and click on Resources, then Newsletters.

Newton-Conover City Schools' Teacher Receives Milken Award

Congratulations to Angie Sigmon, a K-3 teacher at Shuford Elementary School (Newton-Conover City Schools), who last Friday was named North Carolina's latest Milken Educator Award winner and the recipient of an unrestricted $25,000 prize. State Superintendent June Atkinson said, "In her 13-year career, Angie has inspired her students and colleagues alike to unlock learning potential with technology, to try new things, to help one another and to always believe in themselves. She represents her profession well." Sigmon is among up to 40 outstanding elementary educators nationwide who will receive the Milken Educator Award for the 2014–15 school year.