RALEIGH — Innovative School District Superintendent Eric Hall will recommend to the North Carolina State Board of Education that Achievement for All Children, a nonprofit from Forest City, manage Southside Ashpole Elementary School for the next five years.
Hall made his decision after extending the review period for the two bidders, Achievement for All Children and The Romine Group from Michigan. After review of additional budget and curriculum information, the Innovative School District, with help from a national school consultant, made its decision.
The next step is for the state board to formally approve Achievement for All Children and to finalize a contract. Hall expects Achievement for All Children to begin local meetings and team building in May and June.
Although Southside will operate similar to a charter school in that it will have autonomy, the students will come from within the district, and Achievement for All Children will hire a principal, and the principal will hire teachers and staff who will be employed by the state. Achievement for All Children has set aggressive goals for the low-performing school.
“They expect to reach the state average in the first years, exceed the state average in the fourth year and become an ‘A’ school in the fifth year,” Hall said. “It is a very aggressive goal, but we all have high expectations.”
Accountability will be rigorous for the new school operator, Hall said.
“We’re committed to getting it right,” he said.
Achievement for All Students is a new nonprofit that will affiliate with TeamCFA, a noprofit charter operator which manages 13 North Carolina schools. Hall said he was under no pressure to recommend an in-state firm.
“Achievement for All Students really stepped up in the second round of discussions,” Hall said. “They took full advantage of the opportunity to give a clear set of information on budgets and curriculum.
“They show a very strong commitment to implement a comprehensive system of support to serve the needs of all students at Southside Ashpole,” Hall said. “They have a strong focus on improving outcomes for achievement for the students at Southside.
“I am confident of their curriculum plan as presented,” he said. “I expect that it will not only help us to move forward and deliver high outcomes for students, but it will also serve not only the students but the parents throughout the educational experience for their children at the school.”
Tony Helton, CEO of TeamCFA, says Achievement for All Children is ready for the challenge.
“We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to make a positive impact on education in the state of North Carolina, and we very much look forward to working with the ISD and the State Department of Education,” Helton said. “In addition, we are committed to partnering with the community, parents, and staff at Southside Ashpole.”
Achievement for All Children’s self-proclaimed mission is to support the public schools in the state of North Carolina in achieving better outcomes for all children by focusing on the most academically challenged K-5 public schools.
“Although rigorous, coherent, cumulative curricula is vitally important, we believe true success must also have strong community support working together with an army of talented and committed educators in each of our public schools,” Helton said.
“We will only succeed if we work as a team for the betterment of the children. When children are given high expectations along with the professionals and learning tools that will motivate, engage, and empower them to reach those high goals, children soar past those goals — single time. We look forward to serving the community of Rowland, North Carolina,” he said.
The takeover process was mandated by the state legislature in 2015 and began in Robeson County in the fall of 2017. In February, the Board of Education of the Public Schools of Robeson County relinquished control of the school, choosing not to exercise its option to close Rowland’s community elementary school.
Southside Ashpole is the first school to be taken over by the Innovative School District. It will take over five low-performing schools across the state.
The management of the school will be comprehensive and the special needs of Southside’s children, including exceptional children’s programs, speech pathology, psychological and social, will be honored through students’ individualized education programs. The public schools will provide transportation and meals.
“I commend both groups for their work,” Hall said. “It was a rigorous process. We put it all out there on our website for the public to see.”
Staff writer Scott Bigelow can be reached at 910-644-4497 or [email protected]