GREENSBORO — Three area leaders spoke out on a possible state takeover of Fairview Elementary school at Thursday's Guilford County Board of Education meeting.
Guilford County Association of Educators president Todd Warren and Southside Neighborhood Association president Tony Collins both called for Fairview to stay part of Guilford County Schools. Warren said his organization plans to start a petition to show community support for keeping Fairview part of the district.
"This is not just a benign misguided effort. This is akin to an absentee father who shows up after ten years with a Christmas present, and you know, has not bought shoes or groceries for the last 10 years," Warren said of the state's actions and funding choices.
He also said Tennessee has not been successful in boosting student growth with its own state district that takes on low-performing schools, and that North Carolina legislators should have been paying more attention to those results.
Keith McInnis Sr., a former school board candidate from High Point, took a different tack in his comments. He stressed the need for academic improvement without explicitly endorsing one path or the other.
"The community is split: should Guilford County schools continue to educate the children or should the state takeover?" McInnis said. "Given what has been taking place in the past, we would like to see some accountability. ...
"Please, whatever decision you make and whatever you choose, remember you are dealing with a lot of kids and a lot of families in High Point that really believe in you to make the right decision for them."
State leaders announced just last week Fairview is on a shortlist of six schools across the state that qualified for possible inclusion in the North Carolina Innovative School District. The special school district created by the state temporarily takes on a small number of schools with low student performance on state tests and then recruits operators to run the schools. ISD leaders plan to recommend that it take over two to four low-performing schools for the 2019-20 school year.
Currently the ISD has just one school: Southside Ashpole Elementary. The Robeson County school is being run by the company Achievement for All Children.
Superintendent Sharon Contreras said Thursday she expects to talk to ISD Superintendent Eric Hall next week. Hall is making similar visits to all the schools on the list.
Hall also plans to speak with Guilford County school board members before making any recommendation to the state board. Contreras said she plans to ask the state board to give the school's new principal more time to work on turning around the school with help and expert assistance from The Rensselaerville Institute in Delmar, N.Y.
Board members also voted on Thursday to apply to the state for "restart" flexibility for Fairview and Frazier Elementary, Northeast Middle, Vandalia Elementary, Washington Elementary and Welborn Middle.
If approved by the state, these schools would join nine others in the district that use the schools’ best teachers to teach more classes each day or have more students in their classes.