Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said Tuesday he wants to develop a three-year plan with the state’s Achievement School District that details how some of the state’s worst-performing schools are taken over.
The ASD can take over schools in the state’s bottom 5 percent and either directly run them or hand them over to a charter school.
Last month, after the ASD announced a list of 12 schools it was looking to take over, meetings between charter school officials and community members at those schools became particularly contentious. Teachers and parents complained that the takeover or “matching” process is confusing, disruptive, and destructive. They also pointed out mixed results at schools that have been taken over by the ASD.
A week after the names of the schools were released, two charter organizations pulled out of the process, knocking two schools off the takeover list.
“My big takeaway was that we all need to do a better job of engaging communities and letting them know when” schools are vulnerable to being taken over, Hopson said at Tuesday’s school board meeting. “We shouldn’t show up when we’re closing schools or letting folks know schools are about to be taken over.”
ASD officials met with Shelby County Schools officials for several weeks this year before the list of schools was announced to determine the criteria used to decide which schools would be taken over.
Hopson has since said that he doesn’t agree with several of the schools on the list, particularly Raleigh Egypt High School, which is set to be taken over by Green Dot Schools, a charter organization based in California.
ASD officials have said that that negotiation process is a courtesy that the law that created the district doesn’t require.
Hopson said his team will meet with ASD Superintendent Chris Barbic and his team in the coming days to begin to hash out a plan for the next three years. The list of schools in the bottom 5 percent is developed every three years.
“We need to let communities know what we think the educational landscape will look like in next three years,” Hopson said.
Hopson also said Tuesday that the district received $900,000 from the federal School Improvement Grant which is targeted to improve low-performing schools for its growth in enrollment.
Hopson said last month that he plans to expand the iZone next year by closing several schools.