Wake Ed

Wake County school board to discuss budget, charter flexibility

First grade teacher Morgan Perry works with, from left (around the table), Dylan Ort, David Christie, Jasmine Xie and Tanya Puenpa during class at Cardinal Charter Academy in Cary, N.C., Dec. 2, 2015. Wake County school administrators want state permission to operate low-performing schools with the same exemptions from statutes and rules as charter schools.
First grade teacher Morgan Perry works with, from left (around the table), Dylan Ort, David Christie, Jasmine Xie and Tanya Puenpa during class at Cardinal Charter Academy in Cary, N.C., Dec. 2, 2015. Wake County school administrators want state permission to operate low-performing schools with the same exemptions from statutes and rules as charter schools. ehyman@newsobserver.com

The new school budget and flexibility to operate some schools like charter schools will be among the topics that the Wake County school board discusses on Tuesday.

During the regular meeting, Superintendent Jim Merrill will present his recommended budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year. After getting a record $44.6 million increase from the Wake County Board of Commissioners last year, one question will be how much of a boost Merrill will seek this year.

Will Merrill push ahead on the second year of a five-year plan to raise teacher pay to the national average by 2020? He has previously said that reaching the national average would mean progressively increasing the local amount for teacher funding by $16 million each year for five years.

Other items to look for include what’s recommended for funding the arts, the Elementary Support Model program and Pre-K. Will the new budget include cutting back on funding for affluent schools to provide more for high-poverty schools?

During the work session, staff will brief the board on its plan to seek state permission to use the “restart model” for “recurring low-performing schools.” The State Board of Education approved a new policy this month that allows low-performing schools to operate with the same exemptions from statutes and rules as charter schools.

Charter schools were created to be labs for innovation. This means they’re exempt from some of the regulations that traditional public schools must follow, such as the state’s calendar law and requirements for certified teachers.

But unlike charter schools, any Wake schools that would operate under the restart model would remain under the control of the school system. The restart schools’ employees would also have protections under state law.

Several Wake schools, typically those with high concentrations of low-income students, would be eligible for the restart model.

Wake has asked for charter flexibility for several years.

Other work session topics include:

▪ A list of what staff is working on and will present to the school board during the final quarter of the 2015-16 fiscal year;

▪ A presentation on how the learning and teaching objectives of the strategic plan are being implemented in schools;

▪ A summary of the commitments that the school board made at the February retreat and the actions that staff will take to implement them.

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