8/15/13 Superintendent receives positive review

Superintendent receives positive review
Contract for Lillie Cox extended extra year to 2017
By Molly McGowan The Times-News 8/15/13  
Reprinted with permission. 

 After a positive review by the Alamance-Burlington Board of Education on Monday, Superintendent Lillie Cox accepted a contract extension but turned down a recommended bonus and 2 percent cost of living increase.

 The board met in closed session Monday to review Cox’s performance for the 2012-13 school year, and noted the accomplishments she made in her second year as superintendent, according to the school system.

 Board members mentioned the new alternative education program at Ray Street Academy, improving graduation rates and student participation in AP and Honors courses, and the narrowed achievement gaps between student groups.

 Jenny Faulkner, Alamance-Burlington School System public information officer, said the Ray Street Academy in Graham was developed by Cox as an alternative learning program for students not achieving success in regular classroom setups.

 “It’s just a combination of methods to help students who are struggling,” Faulkner said. She said the “narrowed achievement gaps” between different student groups is refl ected in statistics such as 1.7 percent more black students and 1.1 percent more Hispanic students took two or more AP courses in 2012-13 than in the 2011-12 school year.

 As a whole, 5.5 percent more high school students took two or more Honors courses in 2012-13 over 2011-12, meaning almost 40 percent of all high school students in the system took more than two Honors courses this past year.

 And the ABSS’ graduation rate for 2013 went up 2.7 percent to 78.1 percent — the highest graduation rate in district history, Faulkner said.

 In a release, Board Chairman Tony Rose said he and other board members looked forward to creating the first strategic plan for the district, using the community-created VISION plan implemented this past school year.

 Faulkner said the Board of Education and ABSS had worked in conjunction with the Alamance County Area Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Foundation over the year to develop the VISION plan. She said local stakeholders met every three weeks for 10 months, gathering information on what the community wanted in education.

 “It’s like the precursor to Dr. Cox and the district developing a strategic plan,” Faulkner said.

 Rose and Faulkner said Cox’s work with ABSS teachers also helped the district get a jump start on understanding the new Common Core/Essential Standards curriculum.

 “The planning for how to roll out the new curriculum with teachers … was ahead of the schedules in other districts,” Faulkner said.

 Rose said Cox’s philosophy was, “If we’ve got to do it, let’s do it,” and added, “It’s been a lot of professional development time required … but in the long run we’re ahead of everybody else.”

 On Monday, the board voted by a majority to extend Cox’s contract by a year to 2017, which she accepted.

 But Cox turned down the 2 percent cost of living increase and annual bonus for which she was eligible.

 “At this time I’ve asked the board not to take any action on the bonus, based on the financial situation our district and most public schools are facing,” Cox said in the release.

 Rose said the only time Cox has accepted a raise was last year when the state gave a 1.2 percent increase to state employees. Even though she was eligible for a 2 percent increase, “she didn’t want to take more than anyone else was getting,” and took only 1.2 percent, Rose said.

 Cox will maintain her current annual salary of $175,000.