Archives by: Billy Ball

Billy Ball

About the author

Billy Ball, Education Reporter, joined N.C. Policy Watch in January 2016. He covers public education at the N.C. General Assembly and the State Board of Education. Before joining the project, Billy was a staff writer and investigative reporter for the Independent Weekly for more than three years, covering education, the environment, politics and the criminal justice system. Before that, Billy served as a general assignment reporter for the Sanford Herald and the Monroe Enquirer-Journal.
billy@ncpolicywatch.com
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Billy Ball's articles and posts

Education Top Story

Facing charter takeover, Robeson County leaders tell state to stay out

Just days after a North Carolina official tapped a Robeson County elementary for a controversial charter takeover district, local leaders say the state isn’t welcome in Southside-Ashpole Elementary.

“The governor of North Carolina and the legislators cannot justify that, as far as I’m concerned,” Jerry Stephens, a Robeson County commissioner, told Policy Watch Tuesday. “It’ll be such a great fall-out.”

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Education Top Story

Documents point to potential conflict of interest in state charter takeover plan

Two groups seeking state contracts to run struggling North Carolina schools have professional ties to the man who may ultimately steer the decision to hire them, N.C. Policy Watch has learned. According to documents obtained by Policy Watch, AMIKids Inc. and Communities in Schools (CIS) of Robeson County are two of...

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Education Top Story

As decision day approaches, local pushback against state-mandated charter takeover heats up

Cornelius Redfearn, principal at Durham’s Glenn Elementary, said Tuesday night that the looming uncertainty over a possible charter takeover at his school is “weighing on” his teachers.

By week’s end, Redfearn and his staff should get an answer one way or the other. North Carolina officials say district leaders should know by the end of the day Friday whether a key state administrator will recommend their school for the controversial Innovative School District (ISD).

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Education Top Story

Durham fires back at state over school takeover plan

Two weeks, says Bryan Proffitt. That’s about how long he says Durham parents, educators and community leaders have to convince the head of North Carolina’s contentious charter takeover district that a takeover in Durham isn’t worth the fight.

“Can we beat one guy?” says Proffitt, president of the Durham Association of Educators, an advocacy group for local teachers. “Yes, we can beat one guy.”

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Education Top Story

Faced with charter takeover, local district mulls closing school

Faced with accepting charter takeover or closing a struggling elementary, leaders in at least one eastern North Carolina town say they may pick closure over the state’s controversial Innovative School District.

“That’s not ideal,” says Sen. Angela Bryant, a three-term Democrat who represents Rocky Mount in the N.C. General Assembly. “But we are not interested in the innovation zone.”

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Education Top Story

General Assembly stonewalling Cooper’s nominees to state Board of Education

Sandra Byrd has been a decorated North Carolina high school teacher in western North Carolina and an associate professor at UNC-Asheville, where she also served as assistant provost.

So she seemed a natural fit when Gov. Roy Cooper announced in May that Byrd was one of three new nominees for seats on the State Board of Education, North Carolina’s top public school board.

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Education Top Story

Court of Appeals: State, not local districts, responsible for decrepit, segregated schools

Crumbling ceilings. Failing air conditioning and heating systems. Broken down school buses. Mold infestations. Rodents scurrying through the hallways. Students forced to traipse over sewage from flooded toilets. Dismal academic performance year in and year out.

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Education Top Story

Charter takeovers met with skepticism as director begins pitching model

Eric Hall, in the midst of a rainy drive to rural Robeson County to pitch North Carolina’s ambitious but controversial plan for a charter takeover of several low-performing schools, wants to set one thing straight.

“It’s not a takeover,” he says of the so-called Innovative School District (ISD) that he leads. “It’s about making conditions better locally.”

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Education Top Story

Testing debate is front and center again as state officials wrestle with new federal education law

A draft plan for meeting the nation’s new federal education law has some on North Carolina’s top school board expressing frustration this week, particularly when it comes to measuring schools’ performance.

“To grow the elephant, you don’t weigh it, you feed it,” Lisa Godwin, teacher advisor to the State Board of Education, complained Wednesday. “I do feel like we’re weighing the elephant.”

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Top Story

State Board of Ed chair laments legislature’s latest round of “difficult” cuts to DPI

“It looks like we haven’t communicated as well as we should.”

Bill Cobey, chairman of the State Board of Education, is perhaps a week away from voting through a second round of cuts for North Carolina’s top public school agency, part of about $3.2 million in funding reductions approved by state lawmakers this year.

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