WCPSS Seeking to Add More ‘Charter-Like’ Schools

The “restart” model for high-needs schools will expand to 10 more WCPSS schools next year.

Last week, the state Board of Education approved the application submitted by WCPSS to restart five more elementary schools and five middle schools. All of which are schools that need to improve their test scores.

The school system “relaunched” Walnut Creek and Barwell Road elementary schools last year under the state’s restart program, bringing “charter-like” flexibility in school start and end times, calendar, budgeting and hiring. WCPSS retains full control of the schools, however, and all teachers must still be actively certified to teach.

The restart model was so well received at those two schools, the WCPSS staff decided to add 10 more schools for next school year.

This is different than the Renaissance School Program implemented under former Superintendent Tony Tata. That model focused on human resource incentives such as offering signing and performance bonuses, hiring additional teachers, and adding more professional development all funded partly by federal Race Top The Top grant money. WCPSS ended that program two years ago when the grant money ran out.

The restart model gives principals, teachers, and parents the room to develop creative, data-driven solutions to the issues raised by the data at each school. The school system also gains flexibility for converting funds to pay for additional staff, and the schools offer and extended school day one day a week, parent academies, and additional family services that aren’t typically offered in schools.

To qualify, a school must be designated as “recurring, low performing” by the state based on its test scores in two of the last three years on a rolling basis.

Walnut Creek and Barwell are part of the 12-school Elementary Support Model group overseen by Area Superintendent James Overman. All 12 schools would qualify for restart status, but not all ESM schools are part of Wake’s application this time.

The school system submitted requests for a combination of elementary and middle schools, many of them magnet schools.

  • Bugg Elementary School
  • Carroll Magnet Middle School
  • East Garner Elementary School
  • East Garner Magnet Middle School
  • East Millbrook Middle School
  • East Wake Middle School
  • Fox Road Magnet Elementary School
  • Millbrook Elementary School
  • Poe GT/AIG Basics Magnet Elementary School
  • Wendell Middle School

Now that the State Board of Education approved the application for all 10 schools, each school will develop plans which may include extending the school day, extending the school year, changing the school calendar, adding family support services. Many changes will need to be approved by the WCPSS School Board.

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