MESSAGES 2015 :: FEBRUARY 2, 2015

FEBRUARY 2, 2015

Weekly Message for Superintendents: Monday, Feb. 2, 2015

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Last week was School Choice Week and various organizations highlighted activities of private schools and others during the week. Typically, when people think of school choice they think of charter schools, private schools or home schools. But public schools offer more choices than ever for students and their families. In my travels to North Carolina school districts, I have visited magnet schools with themes ranging from global education and world languages to STEM schools to year-round schedules. In other districts there are schools within schools, early colleges, single-gender schools, arts schools, career and technical education schools and more. Does your community know how many choices your school districts offer? Special programs, emphases and focused-learning opportunities are major reasons students and their families choose particular schools. Even in small districts families may not know the course opportunities provide. I encourage you to highlight these special school choices within your districts.

June Atkinson
State Superintendent

Jan. 29, 2015
(doc, 83kb)

In this Weekly Superintendents' Message:

  1. State Board of Education Meets This Week
  2. State Board of Education Special Committee on Global Education Meets Thursday
  3. Webinars Scheduled to Discuss Proposed Changes to NC's Testing Program
  4. Legislative Update Webinar Scheduled
  5. PowerSchool Upgrade
  6. 2014-15 AP/IB Exam Fee Information
  7. Comment Now on Proposed Amendments to Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities, Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act-Part B
  8. Severe Weather Preparedness Week March 1-7
  9. Pesticide Management Survey
  10. Feb. 1-7 is National School Counseling Week
  11. Summer Leadership Conference 2015
  12. Summer Nutrition Programs Help Meet Critical Need for Students
  13. State Auditor Confirms NCDPI Concerns Regarding Kinston Academy Charter School
  14. Two School Districts are Latest "Green Ribbon" Award Recipients
  15. Finance Officers' Newsletter Online

State Board of Education Meets This Week

The State Board of Education will meet this Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 4-5, in the 7th Floor Board Room, Education Building, Raleigh. The Board's action agenda includes approval of Teacher Observation Requirements, the 2013-14 School Performance Grades, the 2014-16 State School Technology Plan, Renewal Recommendations for Charter Schools with Charters Expiring in 2015, and Virtual Charter School Pilot Recommendations. The complete agenda including supporting executive summaries are available online at

State Board of Education Special Committee on Global Education Meets Thursday

The State Board of Education Special Committee on Global Education will meet Thursday, Feb. 5, from 1-3 p.m., in the 7th Floor Board Lounge, Education Building, Raleigh. Agenda items include an update on global education in reference to the Governor's Teacher Network, a discussion on the internationalizing of teacher education, and a presentation by the Center for International Understanding on global education resources for educators. The Global-Ready district designation rubric and proposed timeline will be reviewed and a status update on the implementation of items from the global education policy and action timeline will be presented. For additional information, please contact Audrey Martin-McCoy at or 919.807.3402.

Webinars Scheduled to Discuss Proposed Changes to NC's Testing Program

As a reminder, three webinars will be held this week to provide details about proposed changes to North Carolina's student testing program and an opportunity to provide feedback. You only need to register for one of the following: -

Feb. 3, 4 p.m.

Feb. 5, 4:30 p.m.

Feb. 6, 8 p.m.

Legislative Update Webinar Scheduled

As a reminder, the next Legislative Update webinar will be held this Friday, Feb. 6, beginning at 11 a.m. To register, please visit Once registered, you will receive an email with participation instructions.

PowerSchool Upgrade

Pearson will deploy PowerSchool 8.1.1 software into all NC PowerSchool instances during our next scheduled maintenance weekend, Feb. 6-8. This upgrade will entail major updates and remedies to the currently used PowerSchool application. In-depth upgrade details will be provided in the PowerSchool Release Notes.

2014-15 AP/IB Exam Fee Information

One part of the 2013 legislation, Broaden Access and Successful Participation in Advanced Courses (115C-83.4A), was to enhance access and encourage participation in AP and IB courses by appropriating funds to pay for all AP and IB exams for traditional public school and charter school students beginning in 2014-15. Procedures have been sent out to various staff in LEAs and charter schools, including LEA finance officers and curriculum and instruction leaders. No funding for AP and IB test/registration fees should be collected from students/families for this year's exams. Please contact Sneha Shah Coltrane at for more information.

Comment Now on Proposed Amendments to Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities, Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act-Part B

The NCDPI Exceptional Children Division is accepting comments from interested persons regarding the Department's proposed amendments to specific sections of Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities (Policies) pursuant to Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA).

The amendments to the North Carolina policies are available for public review and comment Feb. 4 – March 6. The amendments may be reviewed at the NCDPI Exceptional Children Division office (Education Building, Raleigh), and on the web at

Interested citizens are invited to comment on the proposed amendment to the policies. In making comments, please give the citation for the section(s) on which you are commenting (e.g., NC 1504-2.9); and provide comments in the form of statements. Comments may be submitted via email to or mailed to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Exceptional Children Division, ATTN: Carol Ann Hudgens or Lynne Loeser, 6356 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-6356.

Severe Weather Preparedness Week March 1-7

Spring is peak tornado season in North Carolina. North Carolina Emergency Management and the National Weather Service want your school community and you to know how to be safe when severe weather threatens. The statewide tornado drill will take place on Wednesday, March 4, at 9:30 a.m. Most NOAA weather radios will NOT sound an audible alert to mark the beginning of the drill. As such, schools are encouraged to self-initiate their tornado drills at 9:30 a.m. as if an alert had been broadcast. The drill will conclude when participants complete their drill activities. No all-clear message will be issued. If this time is not convenient for your school's instructional program, principals may reschedule the tornado drill on another day close to March 4. For more information about tornado and storm safety, go to or download the free ReadyNC mobile app.

Pesticide Management Survey

Toxic Free North Carolina has been advocating for the responsible use of pesticides since 1986. In 2003, the organization sent out a survey to all local school districts regarding pest management practices. Most districts responded and they are hoping to have similar success with this follow-up. The survey, available online at will provide a fresh look at the state of pest management in North Carolina. It should take less than 10 minutes to complete. Respondents are automatically entered to win one of three $25 gift certificates to The survey deadline is Feb. 13. Please take a moment and send this to your operations manager. If you have any questions, please contact Ben Matthews at or 919.807.3501.

Feb. 1-7 is National School Counseling Week

This week is National School Counseling week; and the first annual White House School Counselor of the Year Award ceremony was held at the White House last Friday. Three of the semifinalists representing K-12 school counseling are from North Carolina and Wake County Public Schools: Lisbeth Fillard, Kerri Bridges and Laura Inscoe. You can view a video of the First Ladies remarks at the ceremony at The American School Counselor Association has been hosting this event for years, but this is the first time it has been recognized by and held at the White House.

Summer Leadership Conference 2015

The Summer Leadership Conference 2015 will be held June 28-July 1 at the Omni Grove Park Inn, Asheville. Conference information, including hotels and online registration, tentative agenda, and speaker bios can be found at The NCSSA Superintendents' Retreat also will be a part of the conference and will begin on Sunday, June 28. The theme this year is global education. The keynote speakers will be Pasi Sahlberg (Finnish educator and scholar), Milton Chen (Edutopia, Sesame Street, The Electric Company and 3-2-1 Contact), Rushton Hurley (Next Vista for Learning, Discovery Education), James Johnson Jr. (Urban Investment Strategies Center), and Andres Ruzo (National Geographic Explorer). There also will be a legal update, legislative update and updates from the NCDPI. A tentative agenda and keynote speaker information can be found at If you have questions, contact Jan Webster, ( or 828.418.0011, ext. 21) or Vicki Wilson, (, or 828.418.0011, ext. 22).

Summer Nutrition Programs Help Meet Critical Need for Students

Last year in North Carolina, 826,000 students were eligible to receive free or reduced priced meals at school through the National School Lunch Program. Of that number, a mere 140,854 received meals during the summer months through the Summer Nutrition Programs. In other words, 83 percent of economically disadvantaged, school-age children may have experienced hunger during the summer months. To read more about this serious issue and what the NC Department of Public Instruction is doing to address it, please visit and look under "News."

State Auditor Confirms NCDPI Concerns Regarding Kinston Academy Charter School

An audit of Kinston Charter Academy confirmed the NC Department of Public Instruction's concerns about the school's financial dealings and highlighted the need to give the department more authority to take action with charter schools before they become embroiled in financial difficulties. The findings and recommendations were included in an audit concerning the Kinston Charter Academy, recently released by State Auditor Beth Wood. The audit was conducted at the Department's request. To read more, visit and look under "News."

Two School Districts are Latest "Green Ribbon" Award Recipients

Congratulations to Cherokee County Schools and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools for recently being awarded Green Ribbons from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction's Safe and Healthy Schools Support Division. These districts will now represent the state in national competition. The Green Ribbon Schools Award is the first comprehensive federal policy for schools related to environment, health and education.

Finance Officers' Newsletter Online

The Jan. 30 edition of the Finance Officers' newsletter is online and contains the following items: Transportation Budget Rating Simulator, Financial and Business Services Summer Conference, and Web News. To read more, please go to the NCDPI's Financial and Business Services Web site at and click on Resources, then Newsletters.