Completed & In-Process Grant Opportunities for 2020-21

The ISD routinely seeks out, evaluates and applies for grant funds to assist our efforts at Southside-Ashpole Elementary. Below is a list of grants currently in-process and others that have been recently completed:

Grants In-Process

Consolidated Federal Programs

  • Title I – Two teachers; Amount: $148,000
  • Title II – UNCP new teacher support; Amount: $13,000
  • Title IV – Technology/STEM PD and STEM Lab needs; Amount: $20,000

For more information about these grant opportunities or to get access to a link to a video of a virtual meeting that we held on August 11, 2020 where this information was presented, email Dr. DeShawna Gooch at

Completed Grants

  • Exceptional Children’s Program; Amounts: $109,000 & $4,000
    • PRC 060 – EC teacher, Contracted services for speech/OT/PT/evaluations and disproportionality set asides
    • PRC 049 – instructional supplies for kindergarten SWD
  • Innovative Partnership Grant; Amount: $1,500,000
  • Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER); Amount: $107,000
    • PRC 163 – Contracted services for PT nurse/social worker and supplies/materials
  • School Resource Officer; Amount: $33,300 plus contributing local funds

Remote Learning Will be Used to Begin 2020-21 School Year at SAES

Like many school districts across the state, the NC Innovative School District considered many factors in determining the best way to move forward in starting the 2020-21 school year. We evaluated input from community stakeholders and partners, teachers, and parents to develop a recommendation.

According to the most recent announcement from Governor Cooper, there are two viable options for reopening schools in the state; they are designated as Plan B and Plan C. Plan A, which would have all students back in schools with minimal social distancing, is not allowed at this time due to ongoing health concerns associated with the increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state.

Plan B is a hybrid model that includes a combination of in-school and online instruction along with reduced school capacity, social distancing, face-coverings for staff and students, symptom screening and other health protocols. Plan C is a remote learning model where students will receive instruction online from the safety of their homes.

Out of regard to student and staff safety as well as concerns I’ve received from the community, I am recommending to the State Board of Education that we begin the school year at our school in Rowland, NC, Southside Ashpole Elementary (SAES), with Plan C for at least the first nine weeks. The Board will vote on my recommendation at their August meeting.

The best way to ensure students grow and achieve is face-to-face instruction and we will eventually get to the point when we can get students back into school. Until then, we must put safety first. We will continue to monitor and assess the COVID-19 situation and the associated health risks and modify our instruction plan accordingly.

James Ellerbe, Ed.D.
Superintendent, NC Innovative School District

North Carolina’s Guide for Reopening K-12 Public Schools

Lighting Our Way Forward

The North Carolina State Board of Education (SBE) and Department of Public Instruction (DPI), in consultation and response to guidelines issued by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), have developed guidance to support public school units (PSUs) and communities in determining their plans and strategies for reopening schools. Lighting Our Way Forward: Summary Document provides an overview and synthesis of NCDHHS requirements, clear, actionable steps that are advisable before students and employees return to school buildings, and guidance that is applicable throughout the 2020-2021 school year. This Summary Document includes links to the more comprehensive and detailed Lighting Our Way Forward: North Carolina’s Guidebook for Reopening Public Schools. The Guidebook is a living document that will continue to capture the most current information to help guide districts and communities.

Lighting Our Way Forward-Summary Document

Letter to Parents and Families Regarding COVID-19

March 11, 2020

Dear Parents and Families,

The North Carolina Innovative School District (ISD) continues to monitor the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19). As of March 10, 2020, there were seven confirmed cases in Wake County, North Carolina. While no cases have been confirmed in Robeson County, the District is aware that the situation could change quickly. The ISD along with the school operator, Achievement for All Children, is consulting with the Public Schools of Robeson County, Robeson County Health Department and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to ensure our students, families and staff are prepared.

The school has a cleaning plan in place to provide regular and routine cleanings of common surfaces throughout the day. High contact areas such as doorknobs, classrooms and cafeteria tables are being given additional attention. Custodial staff is onsite at the school cleaning the building through out the day. The cafeteria staff are utilizing an antimicrobial solution to clean tables before and after meals. Please remind students to wash their hands regularly and not touch their faces. If your child has a fever or feels unwell, please keep them at home.

Safety is our top priority, therefore the following precautions for field trips are in effect until further notice:

  • Any school-sponsored international field trips will not be approved
  • Out-of-state field trips to any location with confirmed cases of the coronavirus are suspended
  • Local field trips to areas not impacted by the coronavirus may continue if they were previously approved by the Superintendent

Any additional district updates will be provided at For more information on COVID-19, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at You may also visit the North Carolina Division of Public Health at for statewide updates.


PDF – Coronavirus COVID-19 Parent Letter

Southside-Ashpole Elementary is awarded over $132K in School Safety Grant Funds

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s Center for Safer Schools has approved the Innovative School District’s (ISD) application for funding under the FY 2019 NC School Safety Grant Program. The funds, totaling over $132,000, will go toward school safety equipment ($19,047) and students-in-crisis services ($113,274) at Southside-Ashpole Elementary in Rowland, NC.

Achievement for All Children (AAC)—the non-profit entity that operates Southside-Ashpole—was instrumental in supporting the ISD in completing this grant. Their School Director at Southside-Ashpole Elementary, Dr. Kenneth L. Bowen, said, “We look forward to utilizing these funds to better serve our students and staff. The school safety equipment funds will be used for a long-awaited transparent security wall in the entrance lobby of the school, repairs to the perimeter fence around the school property and a digital safety and response platform that will connect staff and send alerts to computers and mobile devices as necessary. The funds for students-in-crisis services will be used for a school nurse and a behavior specialist to help with the physical, mental, emotional, and social health needs of students and provide support as they grow and achieve.”

According ISD Superintendent, Dr. James Ellerbe, “There are a lot of great things going on at Southside-Ashpole this school year. Students are learning and growing, and the family- and community-engagement has been outstanding thanks to Achievement for All Children and Dr. Bowen’s leadership along with the great people of Rowland. These new funds are going to only enhance the many positive things already going on at the school.”

Tricia Cotham, President of Achievement for All Children is “thrilled to get this new funding. It will help to build on our safe and nurturing  environment at the school and provide added supports to the students in our quest to improve growth and achievement.”

Southside Ashpole Elementary concludes its first year under the ISD with testing, graduations, and awards

The week of June 10-14, 2019 marked the final week of school for the students at Southside Ashpole Elementary (the first school transferred into the Innovative School District) and it concludes the first year of operation under Achievement for All Children and the leadership of School Director Bruce Major. This last week of school was a busy one, with EOG testing, awards programs, and graduations. There was a graduation event for the kindergartners moving up to 1st grade and one for the 5th graders moving on to middle school. Both were well attended by parents, family members and others from the local community.

Friday, June 14th was 5th grade graduation and awards day at Southside Ashpole Elementary. Mr. Major’s parting advice to the 5th graders, as it was for the graduating kindergarteners earlier in the week, was to “READ, READ and READ.” He stressed that reading sparks imaginations, broadens perspectives, advances language skills and opens windows to the world around us.

Local pastor Reverend Shawn Mitchell—who is a valued supporter of the school—gave the commencement speech at the 5th grade graduation. He implored them to value the educational opportunities available to them and to find a way to make a difference in the world. He stated that today, “you have the right to be proud, you have the right to laugh, you have the right to cheer, and you have a right to clap, but remember to take that same emotion and enthusiasm with you to middle school and give it your best effort.”

Below are some photos of the graduations and student award presentations.

Teacher & Staff Appreciation Day at Southside Ashpole Elementary

As part of the 2019 National Teacher Appreciation Week, on Wednesday, May 8th, the Innovative School District (ISD) Superintendent LaTeesa Allen and the entire ISD team spent the day at Southside Ashpole Elementary in Rowland, NC. We wanted to express our appreciation for all the hard work and dedication exhibited by the staff throughout the school’s inaugural year as part of the ISD. A catered lunch was provided, and teachers and all support staff were presented with certificates of appreciation and a gift. They earned it and far more.

To the staff at Southside Elementary, THANK YOU for all that you do to help your students grow and achieve!

The pictures below will give you an idea of how the day went.


Making a Difference at Southside Ashpole Elementary! (Watch the videos)

Below are two videos that highlight what’s going on at the Innovative School District’s (ISD) inaugural school, Southside Ashpole Elementary in Rowland, NC.

In the first video, you’ll see how, after some initial trepidation, the local community embraced the partnership with the ISD. Through this partnership, work began to create the conditions necessary to increase student growth and achievement at the school.

 In the second video, the school director, educators and students talk about a what’s happening at the school. New attitudes and a focus on accelerating student growth are making a difference.

Seeking School Operators for the 2019-20 School Year – Notice of Intent to Apply

Seeking School Operators for the 2019-20 School Year

Notice of Intent to Apply

The North Carolina Innovative School District (ISD) is seeking proven* and credible* applicants to partner with our district and local communities to ensure strong outcomes for students in some of the state’s lowest performing schools.

The Notice of Intent to Apply is the first step in the ISD team’s planning process to ensure that we identify partner applicants with a strong commitment to the local communities we will be serving. If you have any questions regarding the process or timeline for applying, please email or call 919-807-3435.

All prospective applicants for the North Carolina ISD must submit this Notice of Intent to Apply by 5:00 pm EST on October 12, 2018 via email to

Instructions for submitting Notice of Intent to Apply

* Proven – “The entity has a record of results in improving performance of persistently low-performing schools or improving performance of a substantial number of persistently low-performing students within a school or schools operated by the entity in this State or other states.” NC Statute 115C-75.8

* Credible – “The entity has a credible and specific plan for dramatically improving students in a low-performing school.” NC Statute 115C-75.8

Learn more about being an Innovative School Operator

Schools Under Consideration for Transfer into the ISD for the 2019-20 School Year

1. Carver Heights Elementary – Wayne County Public Schools
2. Gaston Middle – Northampton County Schools
3. Hillcrest Elementary – Alamance Burlington Schools
4. Williford Elementary – Nash-Rocky Mount Schools

5. Fairview Elementary – Guilford County Schools
6. Hall-Woodward Elementary – Forsyth County Schools

Learn more about how schools qualify for consideration