Wake Ed

Wake County considers operating more schools like charter schools

Fifth-grade students David Ruiz (left) and Rasquim Antxane (right) build pyramids using sugar cubes at Barwell Road Elementary School in Raleigh on Oct. 20, 2016. Barwell and Walnut Creek elementary schools used state flexibility to operate more like a charter school to hold a week of fun, non-traditional learning activities. Wake County is considering applying for the same flexibility for 10 other schools.
Fifth-grade students David Ruiz (left) and Rasquim Antxane (right) build pyramids using sugar cubes at Barwell Road Elementary School in Raleigh on Oct. 20, 2016. Barwell and Walnut Creek elementary schools used state flexibility to operate more like a charter school to hold a week of fun, non-traditional learning activities. Wake County is considering applying for the same flexibility for 10 other schools. khui@newsobserver.com

Wake County school board members will discuss Monday a proposal to operate 10 low-performing schools more like charter schools, expanding a program now in place that’s helping two Southeast Raleigh elementary schools.

The agenda for Monday’s student achievement committee meeting includes a discussion on requesting permission from the state Board of Education to use the “restart model,” which allows schools identified as continually low performing to get the same flexibility from state rules and regulations as charter schools.

The school board is scheduled Tuesday to vote on submitting restart applications for 10 schools: Bugg, Fox Road, Millbrook and Poe elementary schools and Carroll and East Millbrook middle schools in Raleigh; East Garner Elementary and East Garner Middle in Garner; East Wake Middle near Knightdale and Wendell Middle School.

The restart model revolves around applying the same flexibility that charter schools have to set their school calendars and spend state money. Charters receive exemptions because they are taxpayer-funded public schools that are meant to be laboratories for innovation.

But unlike charter schools, the restart schools are still expected to do things such as provide transportation and school meals to students. They’d also continue to accept the students who live in their attendance areas.

A state board policy, based on a 2010 state law, lets districts ask for permission to give charterlike flexibility to schools that have been low-performing for two of the past three years.

Wake got permission to use the restart model this school year at Barwell Road and Walnut Creek elementary schools. The flexibility allowed for things such as a longer school year, longer school day and reallocating state money for programs to support teachers and reduce class sizes.

Barwell and Walnut Creek added 10 days to their school year, including having a week of fun, non-traditional learning activities in October.

Other items on Monday’s committee agenda include:

▪ A presentation on progressive learning environments, which details the expansion of Wake’s Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program into schools and another program that’s rolling out 52,000 new computers into schools.

▪ A presentation on adaptive resources, which shows how the district is supporting the teaching in schools of the 4Cs: collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and communication.

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