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Making The Grade: 54 Vendors Submit Proposals to Tutor Charlotte Mecklenburg School students

CMS District says it is using $50 million from COVID Relief Funds to offer tutoring services to students who attend the 42 low performing schools.
Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 9:45 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte Mecklenburg School (CMS) District says it is using $50 million from COVID Relief Funds to offer tutoring services to students who attend the 42 low performing schools.

These schools are located in minority neighborhoods and the state gives them a grade of a “D” or “F”. CMS wants to close the achievement gap by coming up with a plan that includes tutoring before school, after school, and on the weekends.

The school district is asking for outside help to get the job done. The deadline to submit proposals has passed and 54 vendors have applied for the job. Dr. Frank Barnes is the district’s Chief Accountability Officer (CAO). He says there will be a thorough process to select which companies can get part of the $50 million.

“We’ll be checking references for each company selected,” CMS CAO Dr. Frank Barnes said. “Also we will have a centralized process of student registration and monitoring on a monthly basis to see how those companies or vendors are doing with the students that have been allocated.”

CMS is working on a plan to get academic achievement to happen and it's calling on outside forces to get the job done.

Barnes says vendors must present evidence-based strategies to achieve academic success.

“With anything that we are presenting to our students,” Barnes said. “We want the strongest base of evidence to say that when it is done as prescribed - it will work.”

As of September, there were 26,758 students enrolled in the 42 low-performing schools. Barnes says those students will have first dibs to the free tutoring services. It will be available to all students at those schools whether they are making the grade or not. Leaders think that will make a difference.

“I think one of the biggest obstacles to tutoring other than just the boredom,” Barnes said. “Is to be labeled you’re dumb, deficient because you need extra help. A key way we can prevent that from happening is saying that these are for any of these students in these schools - not just for one particular group of students.”

Barnes says research shows that students who need the help are likely not to sign up for tutoring. He says parents play a vital role in this assignment.

“What the biggest obstacle,” Barnes said. “Is consistency attendance in those programs. The thing we need is for parents’ help to make an educated choice for their children and then help to keep their children engaged and consistently participating.”

CMS also has expectations for the vendors.

“On the vendor side we expect them to reach out to get the information to families about how their children are doing,” Barnes said. “And not have to be sought out for that. That is something in our proposal and something we will be monitoring.”

CMS says the process was open to vendors locally, regionally, and nationally. The district hopes these services will get the job done so struggling schools can turn into successful ones.

WBTV is committed all year long to the series Making the Grade. Stories air each Thursday at 5:30 PM and 7:30 PM.

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