Guilford County Schools graphic

Updated 11:23 p.m.

HIGH POINT — Fairview Elementary will get a new principal, and about half of the staff will be replaced as part of an effort to boost academic achievement at the school.

Principal Rhonda Copeland is likely to be offered a position at another district school, Guilford County Schools officials said late Friday afternoon. Current Fairview teachers can reapply for their jobs or for other Guilford teaching positions.

“We want to know who really wants to be at Fairview,” said Angelo Kidd, Western Region superintendent. “That’s huge.”

There have been similar turnaround efforts at other Guilford schools, most recently Allen Middle, which replaced its principal and most of its staff this school year.

Kidd and others praised Copeland on Friday.

Copeland, who Kidd said has been principal at Fairview for about nine years, is expected to stay there through the end of the school year. Officials plan to select a new principal before the end of April, he said.

“We need to infuse (the school) with new energy and new ideas to turn it around,” Kidd said.

Officials will also start to interview prospective school staff. A meeting with Fairview parents is likely to be held next week.

District leaders will use federal Title I funds for high-poverty schools leftover from last school year to pay for teacher recruitment and retention bonuses, Kidd said. An estimate of the total turnaround cost was not yet available.

“It’s all for the kids,” he said. “It’s not about us.”

Fairview has struggled with low performance for at least the past seven years, according to district officials.

Last school year, Fairview students demonstrated grade-level proficiency on 12.9 percent of state tests taken, one of the lowest rates in the district. The district average was 43.2 percent.

Fairview third-graders had an overall reading proficiency rate of 9.2 percent, test data show. The proficiency rate for third-grade math was even lower, 7.9 percent.

The school continued to struggle despite getting extra funds and resources. Fairview is a Mission Possible school, a district incentive program that uses pay bonuses to reduce teacher turnover and recruit more effective teachers to high-needs schools. The school also is a site for the district’s black male initiative, which aims to reduce academic achievement gaps.

“I think the district needs to take part of the blame and not make the principal the fall person,” said Carlvena Foster, a Guilford County Board of Education member whose district includes Fairview.

District leaders should have intervened before now, she said.

“I think that everybody in there was doing everything that they could do or that they should do,” she said.

Foster and others who know Fairview well say its problems go beyond state tests.

Many of the students move around a lot. Almost all of them, about 98 percent, qualify for free lunch, according to state figures.

The school also has a high number of students learning English as a second language, officials say.

Teacher turnover is high — 15 percent compared with a district average of 12 percent, data show.

The school also needs more community support, said Walter Childs III, a longtime educator and former school board member who tutors students at Fairview.

“One of the things that people misconstrue is you can send students to school, and you expect the schools to do everything for them,” he said.

Teachers can’t educate students and raise them, too, he said. Parents and the community have to claim some of that responsibility, Childs said.

“I’m excited that something is being done,” said Ed Price, a school board member who represents High Point. “I don’t have the answers for Fairview, I’m not that smart.”

But sometimes new people can make a difference.

“The key to me is not the two or three years of a turnaround,” Price said. “It’s where are you in five or six years when those resources are gone?”

Updated 6:39 p.m.

District leaders will add 45 minutes to the Fairview Elementary school day and 10 days to academic year as part of efforts to turnaround the school.

Fairview has persistently been one of the lowest performing schools in the Guilford County district.

The school suffers from low performance on standardized tests as well as high teacher turnover, according to a news release from Guilford County Schools about the turnover.

The district will also direct additional resources, including funding, to the school as part of the effort to boost performance.

Posted: 6:19 p.m.

Guilford County Schools leaders are starting a turnaround effort at Fairview Elementary School. 

District officials confirmed meeting today with teachers and administrators at the school. An announcement went out to parents this afternoon. 

The district has made similar turnaround efforts with other schools, including replacing the principal and most of the staff at Allen Middle School last year. 

More details to come.

Contact Marquita Brown at (336) 373-7002, and follow @mbrownk12 on Twitter.