Students at 14 low-performing Durham public schools could see longer school days after a State Board of Education vote Thursday.
The move gives the schools more calendar flexibility to target their needs and provide more professional development, as well as increase daily instructional time.
It also gives the Durham Public Schools system funding flexibility to route more money to professional development, support specific areas that affect student achievement and to convert positions including teaching assistants.
The 14 schools are Bethesda, Eno Valley, Glenn, Lakewood, Fayetteville, E.K. Powe, Sandy Ridge, and Y.E. Smith elementary schools, Brogden, Shepard, Lowe’s Grove, Githens and Lucas middle schools and the Southern School of Energy and Sustainability.
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Low-performing districts and schools in North Carolina are defined by the General Assembly and are based on the School Performance Grade and EVAAS growth.
According to state law, low-performing schools are those that receive a school performance grade of “D” or “F” and a school growth score of “met expected growth” or “not met expected growth.”
Stacey Wilson-Norman, the school district’s deputy superintendent for academic services, said the school day will not immediately change for students at the 14 schools.
“Each school will assemble a team to begin the planning process to determine the best ways to utilize the available flexibility to benefit the students and families,” Wilson-Norman said. “Any proposals for changes to school hours or calendars would be discussed this calendar year for implementation during the 2018-2019 school year.”
She said once in place, schools will have increased flexibility for innovation and maximizing resources.
“Each school will assemble a team of administrators, teachers and parents to help design the innovation opportunities allowed within the restart process,” Wilson-Norman said. “Each school will collaborate and coordinate with their school community through the restart process and schools can opt to utilize different aspects of the flexibility.”
DPS chose the Restart school reform model, which allows local school boards to operate the school with the same exceptions as a charter school, or under the management of an educational management organization that has been selected through a rigorous review process.
Nancy Barbour, director of district and school transformation at the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, said most school districts choose the Restart Model.
Other models include the Transformation Model, which addresses four critical areas for transforming a continually low-performing school; the Turnaround Model, which involves replacing the principal; and School Closure Model, which is the most punitive because it results in the closing of a school.