Community gets update on Rowan-Salisbury Schools Renewal plan

Community gets update on Rowan-Salisbury Schools Renewal plan

SALISBURY, N.C. (WBTV) - A pioneering way to teach public school in North Carolina is getting a test run in the Rowan-Salisbury School system, and if successful, could be an option for school systems across the state.

It’s been in effect for nine months, and today was a report card day for the community. It’s called “Renewal” and it basically means the state takes a hands off approach and tells the local system ‘you’re on your own.’”

On Friday the system hosted a large luncheon presentation for community leaders to talk about progress.

Renewal is so unique that the state superintendent is watching it very closely. The North Carolina General Assembly gave RSS permission to implement the plan.

The school system no longer follows state rules on things like testing, calendar, curriculum, staffing, even finances. Teacher-led design teams make recommendations for their individual classes.

“The future of education is happening right here in Rowan-Salisbury, the educators in Rowan-Salisbury are pioneers in what will be the education system of tomorrow," said State Superintendent for Public Instruction Mark Johnson.

The plan has only been in place for nine months, the Rowan-Salisbury superintendent says it will take five years to be fully implemented in all 34 schools.

“It’s not just our teachers and students learning and growing, we have to help our parents understand what change looks like, why we’re doing it," said superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody.

Alexis Greer teaches at North Rowan, she spoke as part of a panel of teachers who shared what Renewal has meant for them.

Greer gave one example of a unique project that students in a design thinking class took on recently.

“So the students can design shipping containers to turn them into schools for students in underprivileged countries," Greer said. "They used everything, math, science, history English in this challenge and that’s an ideal way of how this works for us.”

In another example, 4th graders took a field trip to the mountains, 5th graders to the Outer Banks where they held classes.

It is a very different way of doing public school. The state is closely monitoring what goes on here to see if there is a statewide application.

“It will be a lot of relationship building and just talking on the phone about is this working, is this not working, what’s going well, what’s not, what do we need to change, but we also will have studies that make sure we see the impacts we want to see," Johnson said, also adding “that’s why we’re winding back all of the layers of regulations that come from Raleigh and the federal government and right here is a model that’s going to prove that it’s going to work, and we can start to give that same flexibility to other districts with strong leaders as well."

The state has funding in the budget for a scientific study to watch results here, the state superintendent says they’ll need to see the impacts we want to see as this goes forward.

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