By December 2013, New Hanover County Board of Education members will decide if they want to enter into a partnership creating a young women’s academy.
Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley updated board members about the nine-year process of establishing a Wilmington Leadership Academy for Young Women during the Tuesday, Oct. 1 meeting.
Georgia Miller, chairwoman of Young Women Leading, Inc., and wife of Chancellor Gary Miller of the University of North Carolina Wilmington, proposed the idea for the private-public partnership about one month ago.
Member Tammy Covil said she had two concerns. Her first concern was that studies included in the packets showed that single gender schools are more beneficial for boys. She questioned whether it would be discriminatory by Title IX gender equity regulations to have a school for only one gender.
“There’s some serious gang activity that’s taking place in the community,” Covil said. “This would be a great opportunity to focus on the male gender.”
She also asked about financial responsibility.
Young Women Leading, Inc., would cover some costs, including the principal’s salary the year before the school opens during the design, hiring and programming phase.
Current funding to begin the process is estimated at $500,000, with a goal of $2 million by the end October 2013.
The school would include grades six to 12, with class sizes limited to 25, grade levels limited to 75 and the school capped at 575 students. It would be modeled after similar schools like in East Harlem, N.Y., and in Texas.
“It would operate as a school of choice,” Markley said.
Chairman Don Hayes, member Lisa Estep, City of Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo, District Attorney Ben David and UNCW representatives are scheduled to visit New York City academies.
If the memorandum of understanding is approved, the goal is to hire a principal and caseworker by July 2014 and open the school by July 15. The school would begin with only sixth grade and add one grade per year until 2022.
Markley said the two decisions are if the board wants to move forward with the partnership and, if so, to select a location for the new school.
Ending the meeting, member Ed Higgins urged parents to voice what they would like to see for the 2014-2015 school year calendar. North Carolina requirements restrict the traditional calendar year from Aug. 25 to June 10. The calendar committee decides where to place teacher workdays and vacation days for spring and holiday breaks.
“Those are the kind of things that we need to hear,” Higgins said. “… We don’t have a lot of flexibility.”
For more information, visit www.nhcs.net/calendars