January 6, 2014
State Board of Education
301 N Wilmington St, Room 212
6302 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-6302
Dear State Board of Education Members:
It has come to my attention that the Office of Charter Schools has recommended that the charter for PACE Academy, located in Chapel Hill, not be renewed. As Superintendent of Schools for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, I would like to offer my endorsement for PACE Academy and the renewal of its charter.
Unfortunately, the majority of charter schools across the nation seek to offer programs for the highly motivated or “gifted” populations. Unlike many of the “gifted” charter schools, PACE Academy seeks to offer a unique program for students who experience difficulties in the public schools. Many of their students have distinct learning and behavioral disabilities. They are willing to work with a population that many charters do not admit.
PACE Academy has existed since 2004 and, unfortunately as is the case with most charters, very little interaction has occurred between the CHCCS and PACE Academy. Recently a meeting was held between officials at PACE Academy and leadership personnel from CHCCS.
At that meeting, an agreement was initiated promoting a more collaborative relationship between the two educational entities. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools has had a long standing record of high academic achievement for its students. Much of our success can be attributed to high level rigorous professional development. That being said our schools struggle with many student discipline and behavioral issues.
At our meeting held on Friday, December 20, 2013, we committed to work in a more collaborative manner in the future. Specifically, the CHCCS will provide assistance as it relates to instructional practice and PACE Academy would offer their expertise in the areas of discipline and behavioral expectations for disenfranchised students.
Finally, I believe that it is this sort of collaboration that was an important piece of the charter school movement. It is our desire to learn from each other and create increased learning for students in both settings.
Please consider continuing the Charter of PACE Academy so that the students will be able to continue to have access to an alternative setting that will meet their unique needs.
Thomas A. Forcella
Superintendent of CHCCS