No call yet on Southside control

By: Scott Bigelow - Staff writer

RALEIGH — The Public Schools of Robeson County will have to wait at least another month to learn who will be in control of Southside-Ashpole Elementary School when the 2018-19 academic year begins.

The North Carolina Innovative School District, which the state has given control of the school in Rowland, expects to announce its managing partner in late March or early April.

“We have met with both bidders, and they have submitted additional information, some clarifications and a five-year budget,” said Eric Hall, Innovative School District superintendent. “Our consultant, SchoolWorks, will submit its recommendation on March 12.”

Hall will meet with the state Board of Education either at a special meeting in late March or at the board’s regular monthly meeting on April 5. The board will hear Hall’s recommendation and accept one of the school management teams, or begin a new search.

The management bidders are Achievement for All Children of Forest City, a for-profit, and The Romine Group of Utica, Michigan, a nonprofit. Both have experience managing charter schools in North Carolina.

“I met with the board on Tuesday, and I have not made a recommendation yet,” Hall said. “I have continued to stay in contact with the Southside-Ashpole School community and the Public Schools of Robeson County.”

The Innovative School District got a 60-day extension for the management selection process in early January. Hall has remained active in Robeson County in the interim. He has praise for interim Superintendent Shanita Wooten.

“I have to give a lot of credit to Dr. Wooten for her help,” Hall said. “Everybody has been amazing to work with.”

The Innovative School District was tasked by state lawmakers to take over five low-performing schools across the state for five years each. The goal is to create a model for change in low-performing schools by employing additional flexibility in hiring and curriculum but without additional funding from the state or other sources.

Hall eyed two Robeson County schools and selected Southside Ashpole, an elementary school with about 250 students whose scores are among the worst in the state. Faced with the choice of closing the school or allowing the school to become part of the Innovative School District, the Robeson County’s education leaders relinquished control of the school in January.

Hall sought bids to manage a school that will be a charter school but without the ability to select students. The Public Schools of Robeson County will partner with the new management team to provide transportation, food service and other services.

Teachers and administrators wanting to remain at Southside-Ashpole will have to go through an interview process to do so.

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Scott Bigelow

Staff writer

Reach Scott Bigelow at 910-644-4497 or [email protected]

Reach Scott Bigelow at 910-644-4497 or [email protected]