In 2013, the North Carolina General Assembly established the Education and Workforce Innovation Act (EWIA) under House Bill 902 with the purpose of fostering, ” innovation in education that will lead to more students graduating career and college ready.”.
EWIA was included in the 2013 Appropriations Act under section § 115C‑64.11.
EWIA’s mandates included providing millions in grant money to school districts after they completed a lengthy set of application requirements. This program was to be administered by NC New Schools.
How much money did NC New Schools receive and where did it go?
According to the 2013 Appropriations Act, a federal grant (Investing in Innovation Fund Grant) was also awarded to NC New Schools. A single report dated March 3, 2015 filed by NC New Schools regarding this grant was located on the General Assembly website. No dollar figures pertaining to the project at hand were mentioned in the report, however NC the grant appears to have been $15 million via the federal Investing in Innovation, or i3, fund. View NC New Schools i3 application.
Earlier this year, NC New Schools shuttered its doors and filed for bankruptcy. The organization was heavily funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation via four separate grants totaling nearly $18 million dollars.
The largest Gates Foundation grant goes back to April 2006. That grant was for ‘redesigning high schools’ and was over $14 million dollars. NC New Schools also received multiple grants from the Carnegie Foundation spanning a 6 year period which totaled roughly $925,000.
The EWIA established an advisory commission. Members include John Skvarla, Secretary of Commerce, June Atkinson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Bill Cobey, Chairman, State Board of Education, Tom Ross, President, University of North Carolina System and Scott Ralls, President, North Carolina Community College System.
The EWIA commission also had 6 appointees; 2 each selected by the Governor’s office, the NC House of Representatives and the NC Senate.
EWIA also included mandatory reporting before September 1st of each year, yet only one report filed in April of 2015 seems to exist on the legislature website. As of the publishing of this article, the current year’s report is still outstanding according to page ten of the list of reports due on the NCGA’s website.
According to that 2015 report the, “Governor’s Office staff partners with staff of North Carolina New Schools to administer the Education and Workforce Innovation Program and enact the vision established by the General Assembly and the Commission.”.
In the April 2015 report, NC New Schools was said to receive 5% of all the funds appropriated to EWIA:
Appropriations Act of 2014 PART XXIII. OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE INNOVATION PROGRAM SECTION 23.1.(a) Of the funds appropriated for the Education and Workforce Innovation Program, established under G.S. 115C- 64.16, up to five percent (5%) each fiscal year may be used by the Office of the Governor to provide technical assistance and administrative assistance, including staff, to the Commission and reimbursement expenses for the Commission, and five percent (5%) each fiscal year shall be allocated to North Carolina New Schools Project. North Carolina New Schools Project shall use the funds to establish a peer learning network for all grantees to ensure high-quality implementation of grant programs that lead to strong results for students.
The list of grants and details of each one was also in the April 2015 report:
- Beaufort County Schools – $800,000
- Buncombe County Schools – $800,000
- Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools – $800,000
- Chatham, Harnett, and Lee County Schools – $800,000
- Davidson County, Lexington City, and Thomasville City Schools – Yadkin Valley Regional Career Academy – $350,000
- Duplin County Schools – $800,000
- Durham Public Schools – $800,000
- Granville, Franklin, Vance, and Warren Counties – $800,000
- Rutherford County Schools – $800,000
- Surry County Schools – $800,000
- Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools – Kennedy High School – $350,000
The total of these grants is $7,900,000. The 5% of that $7.9 million allocated to NC New Schools would have been $395,000.
Given that no report has been filed in 2016 as of yet, it is unclear what the dollar total NC New Schools would have received prior to their closure.
A General Assembly staffer contacted by this site was unable to locate any payments to NC New Schools.
Multiple attempts to obtain comment from legislators involved in the bill that created EWIA regarding payment information to NC New Schools were unsuccessful.