The Hall County Board of Education is considering giving its strongest schools a bit more flexibility.
The school board discussed at its meeting Monday the possibility of becoming an Investing in Educational Excellence School System that has a performance contract with the state Board of Education that grants it certain freedoms.
“The state of Georgia is requiring every school district in the state (to decide) by May of 2015 if it is going to be a status quo district, if it’s going to be an IE2 district or if it’s going to be a charter district,” Hall County Superintendent Will Schofield said. “Status quo isn’t even on our radars. That’s not even anything close to what we do.”
Status quo districts are granted no greater flexibility from the state and remain under every current regulation. Charter school districts are similar to IE2 districts, but they grant greater governance to individual schools, taking some governance from the local school boards.
Schofield said the school board members must ask themselves what affects their schools and students the least.
“We have loved what has happened in our charter schools in terms of those communities and those faculties that are ready to govern and ready (to) take a lot of autonomy,” Schofield said. “... One of the challenges we’ve had in thinking about IE2 is that it stung a little that we might have to take a step back in the autonomy we’ve pushed on some of our schools.”
The likely solution will be a specifically tailored IE2 contract that will give some governing rights and freedoms to the district’s most successful schools.
Schofield said he’s heard feedback from the state, which is in full support of Hall County creating an IE2 contract unlike “any other in the state of Georgia.”
“We would have an annual process,” he said. “Based on how well a school is performing, what autonomy they are ready for and they desire, this board could grant varying degrees of autonomy at the school level.”
Schofield said it is important to keep in mind that the district school board would ultimately always be responsible for every school in the district.
“We believe, the staff believe, that an IE2 contract fits us best,” he said.
The district will also redefine its schools into three categories: its community schools, magnet schools and competitive programs of choice.
Magnet schools have nearly the same definition as charter schools, according to Schofield, but they don’t require the same state regulation.
School board member Bill Thompson voiced his support for the potential new contract.
“Our district has always been very innovative and creative in figuring out what kids need most and what fits where,” Thompson said. “I feel very good about that in regards to this future process.”