Durham Commissioners Request No Durham Schools in ISD

The Durham County Board of Commissioners issued a Letter requesting that no Durham school be included in the ISD.

Full text of the letter follows (emphasis added):

September 26, 2017

Dear Superintendent Hall:

The Durham County Board of Commissioners is aware that the NC Innovative School District is considering asking the State Board of Education to transfer control of five North Carolina public schools to a charter school management organization over the next two years, and that now two of the schools eligible for state takeover are in Durham County.

As funders of public and charter schools in Durham County, the Board of Commissioners believes that recipients of our citizens’ local tax dollars should be held accountable for their use. While we understand that is the state’s goal as well, we believe that goal is b􀀄est achieved locally through the school district and believe actions currently being taken by Durham Public Schools indicate they are taking this task extremely seriously. Durham already has quite a variety of charter schools, not to mention magnet school options and other choices available to parents. The Durham Board of County Commissioners simply does not believe that additional charter options are the key to helping Durham schools succeed.

On July 6, 2017, DPS’s school transformation application to “Restart” these two (and several other) schools for the 2018-19 school year was approved by the State Board of Education. They would operate with charter-like flexibility while remaining under local control. DPS staff is planning formal collaborative conversations with the families and educators at those schools in order to design and pursue innovative strategies for school turnaround. We and the DPS Board of Education would remain accountable for the adequate funding and academic success of these schools, but the schools would have the freedom to adopt the strategies that a charter management organization would likely consider. They would also be starting this process with a superior knowledge of the children and the communities they operate in.

Durham is also carefully tracking progress at these schools and would like to retain the ability to further strengthen positive trends at some of them. While we remain concerned about overall results in these schools, we believe the best long-term strategy for their success is to give them even greater flexibility in their management but to allow final accountability to remain with Durham parents and elected boards here in Durham.

The Durham County Board of Commissioners therefore requests that no elementary schools in Durham County be selected for state takeover by the Innovative School District.

Sincerely,
Wendy Jacobs, Chair