July 2019 From the Board Room

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From the Board Room: Activities of the NC Board of Education

JULY 2019



The State Board of Education is comprised of the State Treasurer, the Lieutenant Governor and 11 citizens appointed by the Governor. This newsletter highlights the Board’s activities on behalf of the 1.5 million public school students in our state and the more than 100,000 educators who provide services to children. You may view all State Board of Education member and advisor information online. To access current and archived versions of From the Boardroom, visit the State Board of Education’s website.


Charter School check mark

Board Approves Two New Charter Schools After Second Review by Charter Advisory Board


The State Board of Education voted 7-3 at its July meeting to approve two new charter schools in northern Wake County.


The board approved North Raleigh Charter Academy and Wake Preparatory Academy, both now set to open along with three other new Wake charter schools the State Board approved earlier this year to open for the 2020-21 school year.


All five schools had been recommended by the board’s Charter School Advisory Board earlier this year, but state board members returned North Raleigh Charter and Wake Preparatory to the advisory panel for a second look after district leaders and PTA groups raised concerns. District leaders argued that the charters were having a destabilizing effect on the county’s conventional schools; charter supporters said the additional schools were needed to meet growing, unmet demand for charter seats.


The Charter School Advisory Board left unchanged its previous recommendation. Wake Prep will open with a smaller enrollment than initially planned, with 915 students instead of the 1,605 students. The school will also use a weighted lottery in an effort to achieve minority enrollment of 35 percent.


But State Board member J.B. Buxton, who was joined by board Chairman Eric Davis and member Jill Camnitz in voting against both of the two charters, questioned whether the schools’ programs meet the legislative purposes of charters in the state.


“I’m still trying to understand how these two applicants add quality seats,” Buxton said.


Dave Machado, DPI’s charter school director, explained that Wake Prep will adopt an “entrepreneurial curriculum” used by an Arizona charter run by the same operator, and that North Raleigh Charter Academy will be administered by the same organization as Cardinal Charter Academy in Cary, which he said has consistently earned a “B” school performance grade from the state’s accountability system.


Board Authorizes DPI Staff to Develop Emergency Rules for Licensure Bill


With the enactment in early July of a law that gives new teachers an extra year to pass licensing exams, the State Board directed DPI staff to develop emergency rules for the immediate application of the law under Senate Bill 219.


Tom Tomberlin, director of Educator Recruitment and Support for DPI, told the board that the bill, signed into law July 3, allowed the department 10 days to adopt emergency rules to implement the law, intended to help hundreds of teachers whose licenses were to expire at the end of June as well as school districts facing additional vacancies.


Tomberlin said that the rules needed to address three key areas:

  • Notification to those teachers affected by the new law to ensure compliance;
  • Direction to those teachers that to fulfill examination requirements, they must submit their exam results along with other licensing materials;
  • For out-of-state teachers applying for a continuing professional license, a requirement that they submit documentation or other information about the method by which their teaching effectiveness was determined by their state or district.

Senate Bill 219 requires that out-of-state applicants provide evidence of their effectiveness, but Tomberlin explained that unlike North Carolina, which has a statewide evaluation instrument mandated for all teachers, in many states, individual districts evaluate teachers using a various range of measures.


“How DPI will determine effectiveness based on unique evaluation system seems to be a challenge for us,” Tomberlin said.


Board Approves Additional Spending for ECATS Data System


During a special called meeting July 24, the State Board approved a contract amendment for ECATS – Exceptional Children Accountability Tracking System – that was launched earlier this month to manage and analyze exceptional children data.


The amendment to the contract with Public Consulting Group (PCG), the vendor for the data system, allows the department to spend to spend as much as an additional $2.3 million yearly for additional Tier 1 technical and customer support to schools and districts statewide. The additional support supplements other kinds of technical services and supports that PCG is providing under the contract, which cannot exceed $19.6 million.


Eric Snider, general counsel to the State Board, explained that the actual annual cost for the additional support could be less than $2.3 million since it will be based on use and demand


Under board policy in place since March, the board must approve any contract totaling $1 million or more.