10/21/10 — Warsaw Elementary put on state watch list; action ordered

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Warsaw Elementary put on state watch list; action ordered

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on October 21, 2010 1:46 PM

KENANSVILLE -- Warsaw Elementary staff and students have until the end of the school year to raise student achievement by at least 10 percent, or face a state-ordered improvement process.

Warsaw Elementary is in the bottom 5 percent of low-performing schools in North Carolina, Superintendent Dr. Austin Obasohan said.

The school of about 400 students did not make Adequate Yearly Progress this year and was named a School of Priority by the state ABCs of Public Education report, according to the state Department of Public Instruction.

The Duplin County Board of Education members examined the issue Tuesday at their monthly business meeting. Closing or restarting the school were not options the superintendent and school staff wanted to pursue. Instead, Obasohan asked the school board to choose between the "turnaround" and "transformation" improvement programs.

The board voted unanimously for the transformation model. Board members Emily Manning and Chuck Farrior were not present at the meeting.

Under the transformation process, the school's principal would be removed, and the school system would also be required to remove any teachers whose performance did not improve after they were given many opportunities to adjust it. The school district would implement incentives for the school and apply additional measures for improvement. Officials would also screen all teaching staff.

The school officials and school board preferred that measure compared to the turnaround model of improvement, which would require not only replacing the principal, but also releasing all teachers and rehiring no more than 50 percent of them at Warsaw Elementary.

However, if Warsaw Elementary improves student academic achievement by 10 percent or more by the end of the school year, the school will not have to enter transformation.

If the changes must be put in place, the transformation process will begin in the 2011-12 school year.

The principal at Warsaw Elementary is "a good principal," Obasohan said.

"That's just what the model is suggesting to do," he said.

The principal and teachers at Warsaw Elementary are aware of the situation, the superintendent reported. The improvement process is not uncommon, and the school district will not know for certain until the end of the school year whether it will be required to act on the transformation plan, he said.

The school board members also briefly discussed the memorandum of understanding between the Board of Education and the Duplin County Board of Commissioners. Obasohan requested clarification regarding what action the board members want him to take on the matter.

Chairman Reginald Kenan reported that the board's draft of the amended memorandum should be complete within the next few days. The revised memorandum requires that the funding agreement be maintained for a minimum of five years.

The board voted 3-2 in favor of approving the amended memorandum of understanding at a special session earlier this month.

In other business, Obasohan discussed the school system's potential $1.3 million income from the Race To The Top program. The superintendent will present Friday the school system's plan for the money, and will discuss the subject again with the board at a later date. The final deadline for the application for the funding is Nov. 8. The money may be used for a number of school improvement, which Obasohan said would be set out in detail at a later date.

The board members also recognized the school system's students of the month, approved a consent agenda and held an executive session.