Norfolk schools superintendent proposes improvement plan

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by Janet Roach, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on March 19, 2014 at 6:16 PM

NORFOLK -- Superintendent Samuel King unveiled a new plan Wednesday to improve the lowest performing schools in Norfolk.

King said the wants to expand his Transformation Initiative to more than the ten schools that were previously identified as not up to standard.

King is recommending that Lafayette Winona Middle be closed for the upcoming school year.  The building would reopen as a new division-wide choice school serving grades 3 through 8.

King also wants to continue planning for a career and technical education high school to be constructed on the current site of Lake Taylor High School.

It was also recommended that grade levels at six elementary schools be reconfigured.

“The Transformation Initiative has progressed to include many important strategies we must take on the path to improving student achievement by transforming school culture across the school division,” Dr. King said. “This Initiative advances our five-year Strategic Plan, embraces the courage to advocate for the needs of all students, and invests in our communities and families with strong leadership teams, shared responsibility, personalized learning and access to rich and rewarding experiences.”

The School Board now must consider the recommendations before implementation can occur.

Transformation Initiative plans and recommendations include:

  • An update of the school division’s “feeder patterns,” in which elementary schools “feed into” assigned middle schools. Currently, elementary schools may send their rising sixth-graders to multiple middle schools. Realigning these patterns would be aimed at beginning the process for
  • creating more socioeconomic diversity at the middle school level, and would provide an opportunity for fifth-grade students to travel as cohorts to their respective middle schools, reducing the anxiety exhibited by many rising sixth-graders.  Dr. King recommended to the Board that this realignment be thoroughly planned with community engagement during 2014-2015, and then implemented for the 2015-2016 school year.
  • Reconfiguring the grade levels served at six elementary schools. Fairlawn and Poplar Halls elementary schools would be paired; Poplar Halls Elementary would serve PreK-2, and Fairlawn Elementary would serve grades 3-5. P.B. Young, Sr., and Tidewater Park elementary schools would be paired, with P.B.Young, Sr., serving grades PreK-2 and Tidewater Park serving grades 3-5. Dr. King is currently recommending that the division plan for these reconfigurations to occur for 2014-2015, if possible. A pairing of Lindenwood and Jacox elementary schools, in which Lindenwood would serve grades 3-5 and Jacox would serve PreK-2, would be implemented for 2015-2016. The Prek-2 grade configuration is designed to allow a laser-like focus on literacy, language acquisition and vocabulary development – the “learning to read” skills. The grades 3-5 configuration focuses on effective transition of students to “reading to learn” skills.
  • Promoting division-wide opportunities for families to choose high-quality programs by providing a to-be- determined number of open seats at the new Broad Creek-area school (now Richard Bowling), Ocean View and Larchmont elementary schools, when those aged school buildings are rebuilt under current school construction plans underway with the City of Norfolk. Broad Creek/Richard Bowling is planned to focus on Primary Years International Baccalaureate, which is designed for children ages 3 to 12 and focuses on the development of the whole child in six identified areas: language, mathematics, science, social studies, arts, personal/social and physical education. Ocean View Elementary is a maritime theme school with a focus on service learning. With an eye toward restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, Ocean View works with both the Elizabeth River Project and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation on projects that both improve the Ocean View community where our students live and help in efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. All of these maritime service learning activities are designed to link to and support the Virginia Standards of Learning across the curriculum, especially in science. Larchmont Elementary is proposed to take on a new pre-medical theme, which would add to the continuity for students who move on to Blair Middle and Maury High school similar themes. This would allow Norfolk Public Schools to explore and potentially expand its strong partnership with Eastern Virginia Medical School.
  • Consolidating Willoughby Elementary into the new Ocean View Elementary when that construction project is complete. Willoughby’s building could become a new pre-kindergarten center, to align with NPS’ plans to expand pre-kindergarten opportunities citywide.
  • Closing Lafayette-Winona Middle School for 2014-2015, with planning to occur to repurpose and reopen the building as a new division-wide choice school serving grades 3-8. When re-opened as a choice school, access to this building, due to its central location, will be beneficial in the efforts of the division to create a diverse city-wide school, reflective of the City of Norfolk.
  • Continuing to plan and market a new comprehensive Career and Technical Education high school to be constructed on the current site of Lake Taylor High School. The school is a collaborative initiative between NPS and the Greater Norfolk Corporation.  A high-quality, comprehensivefull-time career/technical high school blends rigorous academic studies with equally demanding career/technical education studies and creates career pathways/programs of study designed to help students apply academic knowledge and skills to current and projected employment.
  • Rebuilding Campostella Elementary School as a school serving grades kindergarten through 8 with a focus on STEM/swim - science, technology, engineering and mathematics instruction, along with swimming instruction in a collaborative effort with Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority and Recreation, Parks & Open Space to utilize the newly constructed Southside Aquatic Center.
  • Continuing plans to open a new Open Campus Academy, which will be an innovative program designed to serve students who need a non-traditionalway to complete their high school education and become college and career ready. Open Campus Academy is planned to operate year-round in a leased facility on Little Creek Road, in partnership with EdisonLearning and Magic Johnson Bridgescape. Students will follow a flexible, individualized e-learning program. A proposal has been submitted to the Virginia Department of Education requesting that the Virginia Board of Education allow the Open Campus program to operate year-round instead of on the traditional, state-mandated, post- Labor Day school calendar.
  • Continuing plans for schools in the NPS Transformation Initiative to have new instructional themes, such as Montessori Concept, Pre-International Baccalaureate and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

 

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