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Nov. 15, 2011

Denise Watts returned to the Forum Tuesday with an update on the planning for Project L.I.F.T., a foundation and donor-financed private effort to stimulate academic achievement and graduation in the schools that feed in to West Charlotte High School.

Watts handed out a five-page summary that she said represented her own thinking about the steps that lie ahead. She said the board was a month away from operationalizing the plan.

She said she had been focusing her research on "similar initiatives across the nation that did not work.

"The goal is not to say it can't happen…. I don't want to repeat the same mistakes."

The fund-raising goal remains at $55 million, with $46 million in hand. She said donations from the African-American community stood at nearly $400,000, working toward a level that will give the community "that credibility that we are on board as a community" with the effort.

Watts termed the five-year expected goals listed in the plan as "my Cain 9-9-9 plan, very simple to understand and remember.

"The goals are quite audacious and there will be people who look at me and say there's no way you'll do that… I have to be just foolish enough to believe that we can do it and I do and the day that I don't think we can is the day that I'm going to get into another line of business."

Among the concepts being explored: If a teacher presents a given lesson particularly well, have that teacher present it not once to 25 children but in a number of classrooms to 75 children. Such teachers would be relieved of custodial and administrative duties to "focus on high quality teaching and learning."

Below are videos of Watts' presentation, then excerpts from the question-and-answer period.

Introductory remarks, Part 1

 

Introductory remarks, Part 2

 

From the Q&A, 1

 

From the Q&A, 2

 

From the Q&A, 3