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Update on Schools of Improvement

April 24, 2018

Polk County Public Schools currently has six schools that have had grades of D or F for more than two consecutive years.

The state mandated that Polk County Public Schools develop a contingency plan if the schools cannot improve to a grade of C or better during the current school year.

School board members voted on Tuesday (April 24, 2018) to hire an external operator to operate these schools if they are unable to sufficiently improve their school grades

Below are some answers to common questions about this process:

Why must some of our schools have their operations controlled by an external operator?

The state mandated, as part of H.B. 7069, that Polk County Public Schools develop a plan for schools that have had grades of D or F for more than two consecutive years. The plan options included closing the schools and transferring students to higher performing schools; closing the schools and reopening them as charter schools; or hiring an external operator to manage the schools and achieve gains in the school grades.

Polk County Public Schools chose the external operator option because it will cause the least disruption to our schools and communities, and will provide the district with the greatest amount of flexibility.

What external operator has been selected? How much will this cost? What funding source will be used to pay for this?

Kentucky-based Educational Directions has been selected as the external operator for Polk County Public Schools. The School Board has approved a maximum expenditure of $2.1 million for each of the next two school years (2018-19 and 2019-20). The amount the district spends could be less depending on the schools’ grades. General funds will be used to pay for this contract.

Will Polk County Public Schools continue to have any oversight of these schools?

The school district will work collaboratively with Educational Directions.

What will happen to the teachers and staff members currently working at these campuses? What will change in their day-to-day lives?

They will remain Polk County Public Schools employees, will continue to report to their direct supervisors, and will receive the same pay and benefits that they currently do. School administrators and teachers will receive additional leadership training and coaching to help them implement systems of support for our students. The school district will also continue to support these schools with district staff and resources.

Will there be any changes to bus service, meals or other programs for students?

No.

What happens if the external operator cannot improve the schools’ grades by next year?

Under the current legislation, Polk County Public Schools and the external operator have two school years to improve the schools’ grades.

At what point will an external operator no longer be needed at these schools? What is the benchmark they have to reach?

When the schools achieve a grade of C or higher.