Innovative School District

State budget phases out controversial Innovative School District

BY: - November 18, 2021

The state budget signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday phases out the controversial Innovative School District (ISD) created by Republican lawmakers to turn around some of the state’s lowest-performing schools. The experimental school district will continue to operate Southside-Ashpole Elementary School in Rowland, the lone school in the ISD, until the State […]

A third superintendent has left the Innovative School District

BY: - August 20, 2021

The Innovative School District (ISD) is again without a superintendent. NC Department of Public Instruction spokeswoman Blair Rhoades has confirmed that James Ellerbe resigned as superintendent of the single-school district created by lawmakers in 2016 to improve academic achievement at low-performing schools. Rhoades said a search for a new superintendent has begun. In the meantime, […]

Controversial Republican-backed school-reform model on target to be phased out

BY: - July 22, 2021

The Innovative School District (ISD), a Republican-backed school reform model that has failed to produce results, could be phased out in two years.  A provision tucked inside the state Senate's proposed 2021-2023 budget calls for North Carolina to “Transition from the Innovative School District Model” and end plans to select additional schools for the district.

The NC Senate budget isn’t all about money. It’s got plenty of new policies, too.

BY: - June 29, 2021

Reading the state budget is like hunting through tall grass looking for things that don’t quite belong – items that are or could have been their own separate bills and don’t directly deal with money, yet ended up as few paragraphs in a 427-page document. The budget proposal the Senate passed last week, and which […]

State Board of Education cut ties with Innovative School District operator

BY: - June 4, 2021

The rocky relationship between the firm that manages the lone school in the state’s Innovative School District and the State Board of Education (SBE) has apparently ended. SBE Chairman Eric Davis on Thursday announced a legal settlement in a contract dissolution between the board and Achievement for All Children (AAC). The board hired AAC to manage low-performing Southside-Ashpole Elementary School in Rowland in 2018. Davis’ announcement came during […]

PW exclusive: State Board of Ed urged to jettison firm hired as part of controversial Innovative School District scheme

BY: - June 2, 2020

A confidential letter delivered to the State Board of Education alleges that the school management firm Achievement for All Children has failed to meet its contractual obligations in running Southside-Ashpole Elementary, to the detriment of its students. The letter, obtained by Policy Watch, recommends that state education officials terminate the contract — three years early — under which the firm oversees Southside-Ashpole, the lone school in the state’s controversial Innovative School District.

House and Senate approve bill to change Innovative School District selection process

BY: - October 30, 2019

A Republican-sponsored bill to reform the way low-performing schools are selected for the state’s controversial Innovation School District (ISD) received favorable hearings in the House and Senate on Tuesday. A conference report on Senate Bill 522 was approved over the objections of House and Senate Democrats who argued the ISD hasn’t worked at Southside-Ashpole Elementary […]


Teacher identifies 10 “reforms” that have damaged NC’s public schools

BY: - October 8, 2019

In case you missed it, veteran Forsyth County schoolteacher and regular Policy Watch contributor Stuart Egan has a fine new post on his blog Caffeinated Rage entitled “These Ten Educational ‘Reforms’ In North Carolina Have Intentionally Hurt Our Public Schools.” Here are his first five: 1. Opportunity Grants (Vouchers) – There has never been any empirical […]

Test scores, staff turnover show rocky start for controversial school takeover program

BY: - October 4, 2019

Shortly after the school year ended at Southside-Ashpole Elementary School, Bruce Major, principal of the only school in the state’s Innovative School District (ISD) resigned abruptly after one year. Major wouldn’t be the only ISD departure over the summer. He was followed by ISD superintendent LaTeesa Allen and Tony Helton, who directed Achievement for All […]


This week’s top stories on NC Policy Watch

BY: - September 13, 2019

1. PW special report: News and commentary on surprise NC House veto override vote NC House overrides budget veto in surprise vote (Updated) In a surprise move that Democratic members loudly decried as treachery, the North Carolina House of Representatives voted 55-9 this morning to override Gov. Cooper’s veto of the state budget bill passed […]


This week’s top stories on NC Policy Watch

BY: - August 30, 2019

1. PW special report: Our wetlands and streams are worth saving. But it’s incredibly hard to do. The noonday sun is pounding the crowns of our heads as we hopscotch over cow patties and hurdle an electric fence. We make a beeline for a shady copse of sweetgum trees, whose seed pods look like asterisks […]

Leader of firm hired to manage Southside-Ashpole has abruptly resigned. Former state lawmaker Tricia Cotham now heads firm.

BY: - August 23, 2019

Tony Helton, one of the state’s most influential charter school leaders, has resigned his post as southeastern regional director of TeamCFA, the school management firm that oversees Southside-Ashpole Elementary school, the first and only school in the state’s Innovative School District (ISD). Helton reportedly resigned Aug. 12. The reason behind his sudden departure from TeamCFA […]