Rockingham County School Board moves new ‘lab school’ to next step

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EDEN, N.C. -- The Rockingham County Board of Education voted 5-3 to approve the continuation of planning for a "lab school," a partnership between Moss Street Elementary and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

The elementary school has been the front-running candidate for a the new concept since May. Under provisions of a recently passed state law, HB 532, nine University of North Carolina institutions must establish lab schools by the 2019-2020 school year. The law states that the purpose of the new concept is to:

"Improve student performance in local school administrative units with low-performing schools by providing an enhanced education program for students residing in those units and to provide exposure and training for teachers and principals to successfully address challenges existing in high-needs school settings. A laboratory school shall provide an opportunity for research, demonstration, student support, and expansion of the teaching experience and evaluation regarding management, teaching, and learning."

Rockingham County Superintendent Rodney Shotwell said the opportunity will bring the latest concepts in experiential learning and cutting edge teaching techniques to Moss Street at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year and would serve around 400 students, kindergarten through fifth grade.

Faculty members would stay in their current positions through the rest of this school year, but are not guaranteed a position at Moss Street afterward. UNCG will be in charge of the hiring process, so even current members will have to reapply. Also, teachers eligible for tenure would lose it if they decided to stay on with Moss Street longer than one school year, since they would technically be leaving the school system.

Parents like Sarah French showed up at the meeting to voice opposition to the proposal.

"My concern is that it's rushed," French told board members. "These kids do deserve more, but that starts at home."

The next step is for system administration to create a memorandum of understanding that will be presented to the board at its February meeting.