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WUNC's American Graduate Project is part of a nationwide public media conversation about the dropout crisis. We'll explore the issue through news reports, call-in programs and a forum produced with UNC-TV. Also as a part of this project we've partnered with the Durham Nativity School and YO: Durham to found the WUNC Youth Radio Club. These reports are part of American Graduate-Let’s Make it Happen!- a public media initiative to address the drop out crisis, supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and these generous funders: Project Funders:GlaxoSmithKlineThe Goodnight Educational FoundationJoseph M. Bryan Foundation State FarmThe Grable FoundationFarrington FoundationMore education stories from WUNC

Wake County Will Ask To Run Two Elementary Schools Like Charters

students with laptops in classroom
Flickr/Creative Commons

Wake County Public Schools plans to ask permission to run two elementary schools like charter schools. The two schools are Barwell Road Elementary and Walnut Creek Elementary in southeast Raleigh. The state labeled both schools as "low-performing" based on student test scores for the last two years, and that means they qualify to use a "restart model." The model allows schools to operate outside some state laws—much like charter schools.

Wake school board chief of staff Marvin Connelly says the district wants to use the restart model so the schools can expand the calendar and have flexibility in funding. Under state laws, schools usually get funding tied to specific staff positions or specific expenses. Connelly says the restart model may allow the schools to get funding in a large block that the district could decide how to allocate.

"For example,  if we wanted to have more than one counselor in a school or more than one psychologist in a school, or more than one (teacher assistant) in a classroom, or teacher, we would have that flexibility under the legislation," Connelly explained.

Wake staff is drafting an application for the restart to send to the State Board of Education for approval. Connelly says he hopes to have a decision in time for the two schools to begin the 2016-2017 school year under the new model.

Jess is WUNC's Fletcher Fellow for Education Policy Reporting. Her reporting focuses on how decisions made at the North Carolina General Assembly affect the state's students, families, teachers and communities.
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