3/29/16 ABSS seeks flexibility for Haw River

ABSS seeks flexibility for Haw River
By Isaac Groves, The Times-News 3/29/16    
Reprinted with permission.      

   The Alamance-Burlington School System wants the state to give it more of a free hand with Haw River Elementary School and have students and teachers spend more time in class.

   “Yes, we are talking about more hours for students,” Superintendent Bill Harrison wrote in an email to the Times-News. “The funding flexibility would be used to pay teachers for those additional days/ hours.”

   One way to qualify for this flexibility: the school has to have a school-performance grade of D or F and not exceed growth — students not showing more than the expected improvement on End of Grade tests — for two of the three previous years.

   Haw River has D’s and F’s for the past three years, according to the district’s application, and met, but did not surpass, expected growth.

   According to the application, the school would use innovative teaching methods not restricted by requirements to spend a certain amount of time on a particular subject, and use different assessments to track how well students are learning where they need help.

   Haw River also could extend its school day and school year. The school would also have more flexibility with its budget than an ordinary public school, and be able to add weeks of employment for teachers and staff.

   Haw River would still be under the control of the Alamance-Burlington Board of Education.

   The goal is to improve End of Grade scores in reading and math, close the gap between the scores of white and minority students, and increase the percentage of students with the math skills to start third grade, according to the application.

   Originally, Harrison talked about applying for Eastlawn Elementary School as well, but, he told the school board at its March meeting, Eastlawn did not qualify for a restart because of one year’s growth targets.

   “It’s crazy — it’s like they’re punishing you,” board member Patsy Simpson said.