Archives by: Billy Ball

Billy Ball

About the author

Billy Ball, Education Reporter, joined Policy Watch in January 2016. In his 15+ years as a North Carolina reporter, he’s covered public schools, state and local politics, courts, the environment, criminal justice and immigration for publications like The Independent Weekly, The Sanford Herald andThe Monroe Enquirer-Journal. During that time, he’s won more than 20 state, regional and national awards for his reporting, including first place awards for education reporting and news feature reporting in 2016. His 2014 reporting on the death of Michael Anthony Kerr, which earned him a national award for “media impact” from The Media Consortium, exposed the mistreatment of a North Carolina inmate with mental illness in solitary confinement. His reporting led to ongoing reforms in how the state handles prisoners with a mental illness.
billy@ncpolicywatch.com
919-861-1460

Billy Ball's articles and posts

News Top Story

Democrats: Berger-Moore budget process may quash debate, amendments

When N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger addressed reporters last week, they boasted that negotiations on the state’s estimated $24 billion budget were “far ahead” of years past. According to top Democrats who spoke to Policy Watch this week, that may be because Republican lawmakers are considering a maneuver that would all but quash debate on the privately negotiated spending plan in the coming days.

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Education Top Story

Teachers demand policy changes, cheer Cooper at unprecedented education rally

On Tuesday, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger—one of the state’s most powerful Republican politicians—told North Carolina’s teachers they’d soon be receiving their fifth consecutive round of raises. Emily Rex heard Berger’s promise. But the fifth-year, special education teacher—who lives in Berger’s state Senate district in Guilford County—points out she’s received raises in four of the last five years, not that she could much tell after soaring health premiums took their toll.

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Education Top Story

Teachers, advocates: May 16th shaping up as an “historic day” for public education in NC

In the 11 years since she became a North Carolina teacher, Fayetteville’s Tamika Walker Kelly has seen more than a few changes in the state’s public schools. In 2009, she watched North Carolina, then under the control of a Democratic General Assembly and governor, push sweeping cuts and pay freezes in the midst of an economic recession. And she’s seen a new legislative majority—seized by Republicans in 2010...

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Education Top Story

DPI veterans question cost, speed, and value of latest agency audit

The longtime leaders of North Carolina’s top public school agency are questioning the depth and the cost of a newly-released organizational review that calls for a “transformation” in the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. Consultants with Ernst & Young conducted the agency review over a period of 12 weeks this year, after state Superintendent Mark Johnson asked for and received a $1 million budget allocation from state legislators last year to audit DPI.

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Education Top Story

School takeover group’s payment to ex-lawmaker raises ethics questions

An ex-North Carolina lawmaker received financial benefits for his work with a nonprofit that stands to win a state contract with the public school takeover program he helped create, documents obtained by Policy Watch show. A state disclosure form shows Rob Bryan, a former Charlotte legislator...

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Education Top Story

Following lead of other states, NC teachers plan big march and rally for legislature’s May return

“I could choose to do anything else with $50.” But Anca Stefan, a high school English teacher in a Durham public school, says she’ll fork over the $50 next month to take a “personal day” and join hundreds of her local colleagues to promote school funding increases at the N.C. General Assembly.

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Education Top Story

Monday numbers: A tale of three Halifax Counties

This morning, the state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the pivotal case of Silver, et al. v. Halifax County Board of Commissioners. At issue is plaintiffs' claim that the maintenance of three, racially segregated school districts in relatively small Halifax County has propped up a system of inequality that favors one predominantly white school district over two predominantly Black school districts.

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Education Top Story

Controversial former charter principal’s involvement raises more concerns about takeover of Robeson County school

When a politically-connected nonprofit takes over work in a languishing Robeson County elementary this year, they’ll do so amid questions about their experience and capacity for reaching at-risk children. But the concerns may go even deeper, a Policy Watch review has found.

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Education Top Story

Big questions regarding capacity, connections plague Innovative School District contractor

State Board of Education expected to approve controversial group for Robeson school takeover this week

When North Carolina’s top school board meets this week, it will consider the fate of an ethically knotty contract for the takeover of a struggling Robeson County elementary school.

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Education Top Story

Charlotte-Meck split? School district “secession” idea draws heavy criticism from integration proponents

The head of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools—North Carolina’s second-largest school system—says state lawmakers’ brewing talk of dividing large districts is “bad public policy.”

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