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Robeson County School Doesn't Want To Become A Charter

A pencil and a form on a table inside a public school in Durham.
Brian Batista
A pencil and a form on a table inside a public school in Durham.

The Robeson County School Board has come out against the State Board of Education's decision to select one of its elementary schools to be the first school in the state's new Innovative School District.

The innovative school district is an initiative to turn over low-performing schools to a charter school operator in an attempt to turn around their performance.

The State Board of Education selected Southside Ashpole Elementary for the district during its November meeting, under the recommendation of the innovative school district's superintendent Eric Hall. Robeson County Schools have until February to approve a resolution accepting the school's inclusion in the innovative school district and handover local control of the school.

Instead, the Robeson County School Board has voted unanimously to approve a resolution opposing the takeover. The Robesonian newspaper reports that the district is asking for more time to adopt a local plan for improvement. The school district did not take the opportunity in recent years to take apply for any of the state's school reform model options.

According to the 2017 law that establishes the district, if Robeson County Schools' refuses to accept the takeover, the district's only other option is to close the school.

"My hope and my preference is that they will not close that school, because if they close that school, what it likely means is that the students in that school will be placed in other low-performing schools," said Eric Hall, superintendent of the innovative school district.

A majority of the schools in Robeson County have been labeled low-performing based on student test scores.

Hall also says he understands that the school district might be resistant to give up local control.

"I can appreciate [the Robeson County school board's] resolution," said Hall, "but at the same time what I cannot appreciate is that we have got to do something different in that school. We owe it to the students -- and we've got to make sure for that community -- we are putting good systems and supports in place that are going to improve the outcomes for children in that school."

Liz Schlemmer is WUNC's Education Reporter, covering preschool through higher education. Email:
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