Charlotte - Mecklenburg school (CMS) district is partnering with the University of the Virginia (UVA) to help improve struggling schools that always seem to have problems.
Fourteen schools have been identified to participate in this program. The program is called the Beacon Initiative. The plan is to set schools up for success.
"We want to get back to that type of sustainability," Harding University Principal John Floyd said. "To where it is beyond me the principal, it's beyond my admin team, it's beyond the teachers. What we put in place will affect children."
Nearly 10,000 students will be impacted by this project.
The elementary schools involved with The Beacon Initiative are: Briarwood, Albemarle Road, Nations Ford, and Winterfield. The Pre-K8 schools are: Druid Hills Academy, Bruns Academy, Reid Park Academy, and Westerly Hills Academy. The middle schools are: James Martin, Whitewater, Martin Luther King, Jr.. And the high schools that will be looked at are: Harding, Garinger, and Vance.
The project will last for three years. CMS will pay experts from UVA $1.8 million to examine schools and put CMS under the microscope.
"Before you start coming up with a remedy," CMS Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison said. "You better make sure you know the cause. And that is what we are committed to doing here."
Experts will take a good hard look at the district to determine if the district is doing all it can to facilitate academic progress at those 14 schools.
"UVA also works with not only the schools," Project Lift Executive Director Denise Watts said. "But the school district to make sure they are working in tandem. And the district has the capacity to support school turnaround because it's a very different type of work that sometimes school systems aren't built to do."
Once CMS is inspected, experts will then look at the 14 schools.
"We do have tremendous challenges in terms of getting proficiency where it needs to be," Whitewater Middle School Principal Beth Thompson said. "And making sure we have students who are meeting grade level standards over the course of time."
UVA will look to see if the school has a succession plan in place - to keep growth happening in case the principal leaves. It will also determine if the school engages the community enough to help turnaround the school. Also before action is taken teachers, parents and students will weigh in on the plan.
"It won't be top down," Morrison said. "It won't be a directive. It will be very collaborative with our schools."
CMS will use federal dollars to pay for the Beacon Initiative.