Board to mull school improvement plans


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Monday, November 27, 2017

Teachers agreeing to take hard-to-fill positions would be offered signing bonuses under the improvement plans Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools officials are considering for both the school district and six schools deemed low-performing by state education officials.

The plans, which will be considered for approval by the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Board of Education tonight, also include an emphasis on collaboration among teachers and the reduction of turnover in teaching positions.

The district action plan also calls for posting on the district’s website the monthly meeting agendas and minutes of all improvement team meetings as a way to keep the public informed on the district’s progress implementing the plans.

Whether that will be an effective method of communicating the progress of the plans remains an open question.

District officials announced during the school board’s committee meetings last week that only one parent submitted written comments about the proposed plans. The plans were posted on the district’s website and written comments were also accepted.

Citing time constraints, the school board did not hold community meetings as an additional opportunity for public input on the plans. Community meetings were requested by Pasquotank County NAACP President Keith Rivers.

Rivers on Saturday called the decision by local school officials not to hold community meetings on the proposed school improvement plans “a disservice to the community,” noting his comment reflects the position of the Pasquotank Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Rivers noted that school officials held a series of community meetings last spring to present information on plans they developed for improving student achievement. A series of meetings on the proposed improvement plans would have allowed public input to shape the content of the plans, he said.

The Daily Advance was unable to reach Board of Education Chairwoman Sharon Warden for comment on this story. Vice Chairman Denauvo Robinson, when reached, referred questions to Warden.

The improvement plans are required because the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools received a “low-performing school district” designation this fall from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. The district received that designation because students at half its schools failed to perform at grade level on state testing during the 2016-17 school year.

Because it’s considered a “low-peforming” district, ECPPS is required to submit a district improvement plan to state education officials in December. In addition, Central Elementary, J.C. Sawyer Elementary, P.W. Moore Elementary, Pasquotank Elementary, Elizabeth City Middle School and River Road Middle School — the six schools deemed “low performing” — are also required to submit improvement plans for state review.

The plans are due to DPI in early December. The school board is expected to vote on the plans when it meets at River Road Middle School today at 7 p.m.