On Tuesday, October 30, the Wayne County Board of Education approved a number of immediate school turnaround recommendations for Carver Heights Elementary School (CHES). These actions are meant to enhance ongoing improvement efforts at the school. The actions were taken at a Special Called Meeting and include: (a) approving a Restart application to be submitted immediately to the State Board of Education (SBE); (b) hiring two new administrators to lead the turnaround effort at CHES; and (c) adopting a resolution declaring its intent to oppose a takeover by the Innovative School District (ISD).
At the Special Called Meeting, the Board approved a Restart application for CHES to be submitted immediately to the SBE. Goldsboro High School has been a Restart School and has shown significant improvement.
“Wayne County Public Schools has a proven track record with moving the needle with its low-performing schools,” states Dr. Michael Dunsmore, WCPS superintendent. “After a thorough analysis of Carver Heights’ academic data, it is clear that the best option for changing its academic trajectory is to implement a Restart model. Similar to what we did with Goldsboro High, the Restart will take ongoing turnaround efforts at Carver Heights to the next level in order to create more impactful gains.”
The district administration plans to submit the Restart application to the SBE, along with its concerns and opposition to the ISD’s recent recommendation to take over Carver Heights in the 2019-2020 school year.
“We believe the flexibilities and support provided through the Restart model can help improve the school’s academic trajectory,” states Dr. Dunsmore.” Even more, the district can do this now, do it with its own resources, and not wait until next school year like the ISD and any for-profit private operator it hires would have to do if the district agreed to allow the ISD takeover.”
School district leaders say the ISD’s actions have been demoralizing to the school and the community.
“The ISD’s actions have sown chaos, scared teachers and staff, and through their own ‘plan’ will keep the school in a holding pattern for the next eight months until a charter company takes over our school,” states Dr. Dunsmore. “Any meaningful reform efforts must take place now. Wayne County Public Schools can bring that change through today’s actions taken by the Wayne County Board of Education.”
As part of the Restart efforts, the Board approved hiring two school turnaround experts with proven track records improving low-performing schools in North Carolina, to serve in administrative roles at Carver Heights.
“We are excited to be able to have Dr. Patrice Faison join the Carver Heights Elementary team as its new principal,” states Dr. Dunsmore. “Dr. Faison is a 22 year veteran of public education, and has time and time again served in an administrative role to increase student success at struggling schools. It is worth noting that Dr. Faison was named the 2012-2013 North Carolina Principal of the Year for her school turnaround success in Guildford County.”
Dr. Faison will begin November 5. She will replace Mrs. Cortrina Smith, who has served as school principal of Carver Heights Elementary since 2016. Mrs. Smith will transition to a new WCPS role, Facilitator of Career and College Promise & Multimedia Resources.
“Over the past two years, I have been blessed to have been able to work with a great staff and amazing students here at Carver Heights Elementary,” states outgoing principal Smith. “However, I believe it is in the best interest of the school if I gracefully step aside in order for the district to take the next steps in school Restart. I believe in Carver Heights and the success that I know our students and our staff can attain. I sincerely hope the staff and families will support my decision to accept this new position, and will stand with the district in its Restart efforts.”
In addition to naming a new principal, the Wayne County Board of Education approved hiring Dr. Terri Cobb as the school’s new School Improvement Grant Coordinator.
“In 2016, Carver Heights Elementary was awarded a $1.3 million federal School Improvement Grant, states Dr. Dunsmore. “Dr. Cobb is a highly respected school-level and district-level administrator who will bring 40 years of professional experience to this role. We believe that through a collaborative partnership with Dr. Faison, the school will be able to more effectively use grant resources to support improvement efforts at the school.”
The district administration met with the Carver Heights staff Tuesday afternoon to inform them of what actions were taken and how those actions will impact the school moving forward.
On Thursday, November 8, a Meet & Greet event will be held in the Carver Heights Elementary gymnasium from 6:00 PM until 7:30 PM. The event will allow Dr. Faison the opportunity to formally introduce herself and take a few minutes to talk about her vision and plans moving forward. Following formal comments, Dr. Faison will be available to engage and talk with those who come out.
The Wayne County Board of Education passed a resolution seeking North Carolina Board of Education approval of the Restart application for Carver Heights Elementary and opposing a takeover by the ISD.
“Any district that has a low-performing school understands the complexities of turning that school around,” adds Dr. Michael Dunsmore. “This resolution outlines the district’s ongoing turnaround efforts at Carver Heights Elementary, outlines Restart efforts being put in place, and why the district is seeking North Carolina State Board of Education support of implementing an official Restart at the school.”
The resolution also declares the district’s intent to oppose in every possible manner and by all legal means the forced takeover of Carver Heights Elementary School by the ISD.
“The charter school takeover concept has proven unsuccessful in other areas of the country, and is an experiment at best in North Carolina public education,” states Dr. Dunsmore. ”Most concerning is that here in North Carolina the ISD itself has been centered in controversy. From its formation, to its current actions contracting with a for-profit charter company with a limited track record, to its pilot school takeover project in Robeson County, the ISD has not received strong public support. We have already seen this same lack of public support locally. We believe that the ISD’s questionable and controversial selection process used this year, along with its lack of proven success, are not in the best interests of Carver Heights Elementary students.”