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April 25, 2002

Accountability Committee Seeks Parameters to Allow Districts To Voluntarily Suspend Schools Needing Improvement

(Alamogordo, NM)-The New Mexico State Board of Education's (SBE) Accountability Committee voted on Wednesday, April 24, in Alamogordo to recommend that the SBE instruct State Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael J. Davis to propose to the SBE a timeline for allowing school districts to voluntarily suspend schools needing improvement and facing the possibility of corrective action. Through this recommendation, the committee is seeking to allow school districts to develop local solutions for struggling schools, including contracting with an outside contractor, before the state imposes corrective action.

"I think it's a good idea for a district to collaborate on what a corrective action solution might be for a local school. Our question is, when does our accountability regulation allow actions like voluntary suspension to occur?" said SBE President Margaret A. Davis. "Currently, there is not enough direction from the regulation on what schools can and cannot do."

Thirty-six public schools in 14 school districts face the possibility of corrective action this fall. The committee's recommendation was in response to recent actions by local school districts, including the Albuquerque Public Schools, to develop solutions for these schools in advance of corrective action.

Under the recommendation, contractors selected by local districts would be required to meet the state's selection criteria. Any solutions proposed by the districts, including contracting with an outside contractor, would be required to follow the parameters of the SBE's accountability regulation. Approval of any solution would be by the state superintendent.

The committee also recommended that the state superintendent be asked to clarify language in the regulation regarding the issues of school closure or reconstitution or movement of students from one school to another.

In other action, the committee also voted to recommend that the SBE continue with its accountability timeline for 26 Title I schools identified by their districts as needing improvement in 1997, designated by the SBE for school improvement in 2000 and facing corrective action this fall.

The SBE will consider the committee's recommendations at its regular meeting on Friday, April 26, at the Alamogordo Public Schools board room, located at 1211 Hawaii Avenue in Alamogordo.