by Becki Gray
Former Senior Vice President, John Locke Foundation
When NC charter schools are underperforming, they are shut down.
The state Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to refuse new operating charters for Coastal Academy for Technology and Science in Morehead City and PACE Academy in Carrboro. Thirty-six charter schools have been closed since North Carolina began experimenting with the taxpayer-supported, lightly regulated schools in the 1990s.
A charter school born of high hopes and big promises ended Thursday in anger and tears, as families learned that StudentFirst Academy will close at the end of next week.
When traditional district schools are underperforming, they bring in teams of experts, additional funding and authorize more taxes.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is planning to bring in the University of Virginia to help turn around 14 of its most consistently underperforming schools….The district will spend the next year assessing the root causes of problems at each school and what they need….The contract with the university has yet to be finalized. The plan is to begin school assessments in September and to have plans ready in January to include in next year’s budget……The initiative is the latest in a string of projects that have aimed to improve the fortunes of Charlotte’s most troubled schools.
Currently underway is Project LIFT, a five-year, $55 million public-private partnership supporting West Charlotte High and its feeder schools. Two of the schools on the Beacon list are a part of Project LIFT. Morrison said Beacon would not supplant what Project LIFT is doing…..CMS leaders said this initiative is different because of how individualized to each school it will be. Several school board members noted that schools on the Beacon list have been the focus of projects for years.
“These seem to be the same schools that we’ve concentrated on year after year. At some point we have to get it right,” board member Joyce Waddell said. “I hope whatever we do this time, we’ll do it and get it right.”
And in related news,
The school board also voted 8-1 to formally support a quarter-cent sales tax increase in Mecklenburg County that would largely go to boost the salaries of CMS teachers and staff, …. a “courageous” move that will help the district attract teachers.