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The Daily Tar Heel

PACE Academy works on compliance issues

Principal Rhonda Franklin said the school will continue to prioritize the varying needs of individual students but will also have to focus on organization and meeting academic benchmarks.

That will start with the first board meeting of the year on Thursday at 6 p.m.

“A lot of it revolves around improving academics and what we can do to grow as a school, with the overall mentality of being proactive versus reactive,” Franklin said.

PACE is a charter school in Carrboro serving students who do not perform well in a normal school setting because of issues with concentration, cognition, socializing or other problems.

The State Board of Education declined to renew the school’s charter in February but changed its decision in June, provided PACE meets certain standards and guidelines in the next three years before the next charter renewal cycle.

Joel Medley, director of the Office of Charter Schools, said PACE’s issues were three-fold.

“The first thing is legal compliance,” he said. “The second is performance, and the third is financial integrity. The final thing is academic excellence. When my office looked at the information we had, we noted deficiencies in those areas.”

Medley said the board must improve its oversight, including being more transparent for parents and students, meeting monthly with an attorney present, electing a treasurer and secretary, and keeping regular minutes and thorough financial records.

These requirements are listed in a settlement agreement between PACE and the Board of Education, which stipulates that PACE must also consistently provide the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction with details from its board meetings in order to keep its charter in three years.

Franklin said PACE’s board participated in a retreat on Aug. 8, during which board members brainstormed ideas for improvement in various areas. One of those areas is testing accountability.

“As far as inside changes, we’re going to start the school year out with pre-assessments of the students in the areas of English, writing and math, as well as overall career assessments to get an idea of what they plan on doing once they graduate,” she said.

Franklin also said the board would gather student input on incentives that would encourage students to show up on standardized testing days. In the past, PACE has not met the requirement that 95 percent of students take standardized tests.

“We have plans for the beginning of the year already — if students have good attendance for 30 days, we will sponsor a trip to the state fair,” she said.

Other changes the board discussed include notifying parents automatically of student absences via email, applying for grants to add new vocational programs for students and encouraging parents to attend board meetings.

PACE will host its parent orientation night on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

“We’re going to request a more active role from the parents, like participating in fundraisers and taking a more active role in the students’ learning,” Franklin said.

Members of the PACE Board of Directors did not respond to repeated calls for comment over several days.

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