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Rowan-Salisbury Schools Pilots State Renewal Program

I am excited about the passing of HB 986 and our Board of Education’s approval in making Rowan-Salisbury Schools the first and only district in the state to be a ‘Renewal School System’ for all our 35 schools. We are leading the state with this innovation that gives us the freedom to do what is right for all our children.

Keep in mind that this process happened very quickly, and we have many questions about how this will unfold. I do want to provide you with information on the questions that I most frequently receive, as our success.

Timeline

Districts across NC and our country are continuously asking for more local control of our public schools, just as we have in Rowan-Salisbury.

  • Spring 2018 – Senator Michael Lee asked me if he crafted legislation providing more local control, could we pull it off.  I was later notified that Senator Lee created a draft, which changed many times before adoption
  • June 7 – I was invited to talk with Senator Phil Berger about our district
  • June 13 – Senator Lee presented HB 986 to the Education Committee
  • June 13 – HB 986 was moved to Rules Committee.
  • June 13 – HB 986 passed 47-0 in the Senate
  • June 14 – HB 986 passed 93-12 in the House
  • June 14 – RSS Press Release released

Why Us?

For several years, we have opened our schools and district for public visits.

  • We have welcomed visits from elected officials, educators, and business leaders to observe our innovative classrooms
  • We have showcased our innovation through our digital conversion to over 20 NC school districts and over 30 Digital Promise national leaders 
  • We have been invited to present at conferences throughout the state and across the nation
  • We became famous when we sent 200 teachers to Atlanta to find a digital literacy tool to help our children improve

Why did a Senator Lee from New Hanover pick us?

  • As Co-Chair of the Education/Higher Education Committee, I believe he was looking for the right district to move innovation forward. 
  • Representative Craig Horn is Chairman of the Education – K-12 Committee and he had visited our schools and observed our innovation

How do I feel about this opportunity?

In a few words…

  • Excited
  • Overwhelmed
  • Scared
  • Motivated
  • Honored
  • Proud

Will it cause extra work for teachers?

  • Our teachers have been working hard and are already committed to innovation
  • RSS has a history of innovation prior to the passing of HB 986
  • A teacher’s work becomes more rewarding when they are given decision-making authority and know that their opinions are needed.
  • Their work will be different and more engaging
  • It will restore their professional integrity as designers and creators

Does the General Assembly want us to fail? 

The questions I received from Senator Berger, Senator Lee, Representative Horn, Superintendent Johnson, Representative Warren, and Representative Ford were:

  • Are you ready for this important work?
  • Do you have the leadership capacity from the teacher level to the board level to pull this off?
  • What does success look like?
  • When you succeed, how can we scale this to other districts?  How will we know if other districts are ready to do this work?
  • How long do you need?
  • How can we help you?

While there is certainly pressure to get it right, my experience in Raleigh has been nothing but positive. I believe everyone’s intent is to give us an opportunity to push innovation forward throughout our school district that will show improvement over time. I believe they all want us to get this right!

What I am most worried about?

  • Taking the time needed to “go slow to go fast”
  • Being deliberate and purposeful in our work
  • I believe we have great ideas and examples for improving curriculum, but with the operational side of governance, such as budgeting and new norms, we will need some coaching from businesses

What can people do to help?

Everyone’s participation is important! You can help by:

  • Encouraging our teacher-led teams to take chances
  • Supporting us - even when we make mistakes
  • Helping us find grants and funds to support teachers to “go and see” and supplements for extra planning
  • Helping us provide learning experiences outside the classrooms for our students
  • Attending the student exhibition nights and showcases and giving us feedback
  • Reading with a child

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