VOL. 131 | NO. 105 | Thursday, May 26, 2016
ASD's Raleigh Offer Makes School Board Skeptical
By Bill Dries
The state-run Achievement School District is offering to collaborate with Shelby County Schools in a possible change of plans by the ASD for its takeover of Raleigh-Egypt Middle School in August.
SCS superintendent Dorsey Hopson told school board members at a Tuesday, May 24, work session that ASD leaders approached him recently about the middle school becoming an Innovation Zone School instead of an ASD school run by the Scholar Academies charter organization.
The Innovation Zone model is the school system’s turn-around model for schools in the bottom 5 percent statewide in terms of student achievement.
The school board voted earlier this spring to convert nearby Raleigh-Egypt High School to a grades 6-12 school as a response to the ASD selection of the middle school takeover. The conversion of the high school signals a competition by the two school systems for the same group of middle school students.
The school board took no votes at Tuesday’s meeting on the matter, but most board members expressing an opinion were wary.
“I want you to understand what the word ‘trust’ means and that we don’t have a lot of it,” said board member Stephanie Love, whose district includes Raleigh.
Love was a vocal opponent of the ASD takeover of the middle school and pushed for the move of the high school to grades 6-12.
The ASD had wanted to take over Raleigh Egypt High in an earlier school year, but ultimately changed its mind following vocal opposition to the idea from Love and state Rep. Antonio Parkinson.
“To entertain this at the 11th hour,” Love said of the ASD proposal, “will destroy all the trust we have gained over the last year.”
Hopson said ASD leaders told him that if the school system declines its offer, the ASD is prepared to continue with its plans at the middle school and open in August.
The short window of time between this week’s end of the school year and the August start of the new school year would be difficult as well.
Hopson also said the ASD has offered to help find funding for an Innovation Zone school at Raleigh Egypt Middle as part of the collaboration.
“As we think about our next feeder patterns, we think there needs to be some I-Zone treatment in Raleigh,” Hopson told the board. “I think ultimately we’re going to have to have a conversation about the I-Zone in that area, whether we do it now or later.”
Board member Shante Avant said the offer is confusing.
“I think I need for the ASD to give some rationale behind what their intentions are, versus what we have now created and discussed and voted on as a plan,” she said. “It seems like it’s coming a little bit out of left field.”
Hopson will continue his discussions with the ASD on the possibility. If those talks lead to any detailed proposals, Hopson would take that to the school board for a vote.