Culbreth Middle School Principal Named CHCCS Principal of the Year

Culbreth Middle School principal Beverly Rudolph has been named the 2016-2017 Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools Principal of the Year.

Interim superintendent Dr. Jim Causby at a school assembly made the announcement on Tuesday.

Beverly Rudolph. Photo via CHCCS.

Beverly Rudolph. Photo via CHCCS.

“Beverly Rudolph is one of the many exemplary principals we have here at Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools,” Causby said in a release. “She is the most significant person in the lives of the students at Culbreth as they continue their educational journeys. You can tell how important each and every student’s education is to her, as well as the morale of her staff. Mrs. Rudolph was selected by all the other CHCCS principals as being the best of the best and you can’t get a better recommendation than that.”

Rudolph began her tenure as principal in 2011. She was an assistant principal at East Chapel Hill High School prior to her time at Culbreth. Rudolph also taught for Tarrboro City Schools, Buncombe County Schools and Cabarrus County Schools in her career.

Rudolph will now go on to represent CHCCS at the state level.

CHCCS Names New Principal at Glenwood Elementary

Katie Caggia is taking over as the new principal at Glenwood Elementary School.

The move was approved at the Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools Board of Education meeting on Thursday night.

Caggia has been serving as the assistant principal at Estes Hills Elementary School since 2013, where she was named the district’s Assistant Principal of the Year last year.

Prior to her tenure at Estes Hills, Caggia served as principal intern at Green Hope Elementary in Cary and was a teacher for 15 years at Olive Chapel Elementary in Apex.

“Katie Caggia is an excellent choice to lead Glenwood Elementary,” said Executive Director of Human Resources Arasi Adkins. “She has enjoyed a tremendously successful career as an educator. Her understanding of quality instruction is only matched by her passion for student success. She demonstrates superior leadership skills, and is an expert at building relationships with students, staff and parents.”

Caggia is replacing Dr. Darlene Ryan, who moved from principal at Glenwood to serving as the district’s executive director of curriculum and instruction.

Caggia received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from UNC.

Funding Gap in CHCCS Board Plans for New Construction

CHCCS assistant superintendent for support services Todd LoFrese talked about ideas to fill a funding gap for the new construction at Lincoln Center and Chapel Hill High School at the school board meeting last Thursday.

The board authorized a budget of almost $1.4 million for both projects at a previous meeting but have since exhausted the budget they had received from the county.

Since the board is waiting to see if Orange County voters will approve a record $120 million school bond in November, LoFrese said there aren’t many options.

“We have two options. One would be to stop the design work until the bond passes. The other would be to authorize additional funding to continue the work,” LoFrese said.

LoFrese said he would rather front the money with the district’s fund balance and get reimbursed once the bond is approved in November.

To continue the designs the board would have to allocate approximately $350,000 each month until November.

LoFrese said he spoke with the county manager and financial staff about the reimbursement idea and they agreed the plan could be feasible.

LoFrese said this plan would be similar to design work that was done for Northside Elementary School, although the reimbursement funds ended up not being needed due to timing of the approval for that bond.

“At that time, I think there was about an eight-or-nine-month window that we needed and both the board and the county adopted a reimbursement resolution that allowed us to get started on design work on Northside Elementary, and receive reimbursement from the county,” Lofrese said.

The major concern with this idea is the possibility of the bond not being approved, but the board did not seem concerned toward that issue at the meeting.

The board supported Lofrese’s idea to move forward with creating an official plan for this funding and bringing it to the next meeting for an official vote from the board.

The next meeting for the CHCCS Board will be held on Thursday, September 29.

Glenwood Elementary Principal Moving to New Position at CHCCS

Dr. Darlene Ryan has been named the new executive director for curriculum and instruction for Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools.

Darlene Ryan. Photo via CHCCS.

Darlene Ryan. Photo via CHCCS.

Ryan has served as principal at Glenwood Elementary since 2010. Prior to her tenure at Glenwood, Ryan held a position at the district level and several teaching positions in CHCCS and Chatham County Schools.

“We are very pleased to have someone of Dr. Ryan’s experience and passion helping to lead the district’s instructional efforts,” said Interim Superintendent Jim Causby. “She knows the challenges we face, and has a proven track record of great results. She is highly skilled at leading teachers and administrators to creative and viable solutions.”

Ryan is replacing Dr. Steven Weber, who recently accepted a position out of state.

Christopher Liles will move from assistant principal at Glenwood to the interim principal until a permanent replacement is named.

Ryan earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from UNC. She will begin her new role on September 15.

CHCCS Responds to Parent Concerns Over Bus Issues

The first few days of the new academic year have not been without stumbles for Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools.

Power went out at Estes Hills Elementary on Monday, forcing the school to send students home at 11 o’clock the morning of the first day of school. The power outage was not the fault of the school district but was an issue with Duke Energy.

Parents were also sharing concerns on social media over buses not picking up their children on time, or at all in some cases.

The continued concern over buses on Tuesday drew a response from the CHCCS interim superintendent Dr. Jim Causby. Causby sent an e-mail and voicemail to parents with students in the district apologizing for the busing problem that “greatly exceeds years past.”

The CHCCS transportation website says there were “significant changes this year in an effort to make student transportation safer, more reliable, and provide a higher level of service.” But these changes resulted in many of the bus runs, stop locations and stop times to be altered from previous years.

As the bus issues began to pile up on Monday, parents also grew angry over the lack of communication from the district.

Causby said in his Tuesday correspondence that “the heavy volume of parent questions and concerns being called into our Transportation Office quickly filled up all voicemail boxes and resulted in frustration on the part of both parents and Transportation staff.”

Causby said that the district has now asked the technology team to increase the number of incoming phone lines. The district is also working to bring additional staff from Lincoln Center administrative offices to assist in manning the phones, according to Causby.

Causby said he would be sending another update within the next 24 hours.

Read the full e-mail from Causby below:

Dear CHCCS Families,
Another exciting school year opened yesterday. I have been out visiting schools and principals, and from all indications our students and teachers are off to a great start. However, I feel a need to update you on a few areas that did not go as planned.
First, we woke up on Monday to learn that Estes Hills Elementary had no power. I understand this school had electrical issues last year. Fortunately, yesterday’s power outage was not the fault of our school infrastructure. It was entirely on the shoulders of Duke Energy. We worked with them throughout the day and they got it fixed later in the afternoon. However, we did make the decision to send home the students at 11 a.m., primarily due to the lack of air conditioning. I am pleased to report that today has been a great day at Estes Hills. Classrooms are cool and students are learning.
The second big issue, and it is one that impacted almost as many people, is our transportation errors. While there are always problems on the first few days of school, the number of problems we have experienced this year greatly exceeds years past. There are a variety of reasons for this, but they all came together to create a perfect storm this year. Additionally, the heavy volume of parent questions and concerns being called into our Transportation Office quickly filled up all voicemail boxes and resulted in frustration on the part of both parents and Transportation staff.
To that end, we have asked our technology team to restructure the phone system to increase the number of incoming lines, and we are bringing in staff from Lincoln Center and schools to assist with manning these phones in an effort to increase our capacity to provide live assistance as needed. Now, of course, our Transportation leaders are working to resolve the bus route issues, and that is the bottom line goal. But in the meantime, we want you to know that we are working to get every route straightened out and to provide a greater level of customer service in the meantime.
Thank you for your continued understanding and support. I will call you again within the next 24 hours with another update. I hope you enjoy the remainder of your day.
Jim Causby
Interim Superintendent

Lots of Transition on First Day of School in Chapel Hill – Carrboro

Eighth graders at Smith Middle School joined students across Chapel Hill – Carrboro and the rest of North Carolina shuffling to class on the first day of school on Monday.

Almost everything is new for these Smith Middle students. Beyond normal things like new classes and a new homeroom, they also have a new superintendent and principal – and it was their first day of school too.

“Today is actually good. It actually is what feels like normal for the first time,” said Stephon Goode. This summer, he accepted a position as interim principal at Smith Middle.

Goode had been the assistant principal at Smith Middle for two years, and taught at Estes Hills Elementary before that. He says, so far, there’s a lot that’s familiar in his new position, but there’s also a lot that’s different.

“It is a different role. You know, again, I’ve been tied to a grade level, now I’m tied to every grade level.”

Dr. Jim Causby has also had to get used to a new role as interim superintendent for Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools. He says though, that he chalks up his first school day as a success.

“Things so far have been going very well this morning, we were a little concerned about bus routes because we’ve totally redone them, but so far everything looks very good and very smooth.”

Not everything in the district went smoothly Monday morning, however. Estes Hills Elementary School lost power and had to close and send students home at 11:00.

But besides a few hiccups, Causby says he can tell it’s going to be a great year.

“The first thing that really stands out to me is the quality of the folks who are here. I mean that’s as good as I’ve seen anywhere. And I’ve worked in a number of superintendencies and consulted all across the country. This staff is as good as I’ve seen anywhere.”

An evaluation period is going on right now for replacement to fill the superintendent role. The Board of Education hopes to have a new superintendent in place by January.

Power Outage Cuts First Day Short at Estes Hills Elementary School

The first day of classes at Estes Hills Elementary School was cut short on Monday due to a power outage.

Students were sent back home at 11 o’clock Monday morning – the first day of the new school year – due to the outage and how hot the temperature was expected to be, according to school officials. All after-school activities have also been canceled.

Interim Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools superintendent Dr. Jim Caubsy confirmed the outage on Monday morning while he was making stops touring several local schools.

Duke Energy’s website initially said the power would be restored at 12:30, but that has since been pushed back until an estimated 4:30 Monday afternoon.

African-American Students Still Disciplined at Higher Rate than CHCCS Classmates

Discipline in Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools has been a focus of the Board of Education in recent years, as more data has shown that African-American students are disciplined at a higher rate than their schoolmates.

Interim assistant superintendent Dr. Rydell Harrison gave the board an update on the latest discipline data last Thursday night.

“One of the things as a principal I would always say to my staff, ‘In God I trust, all others need data,’” Harrison said. “I think that we have been a data-rich district, but we have not been a data-driven district in every decision that we’ve made.”

Harrison said it was important to tailor efforts going forward around data that the district has at its disposal.

A concern in recent years has been African-American students being disciplined for subjective reasons, including “disrespect.”

Harrison said “disrespect” has gone down as a source for Office Discipline Referrals, or ODR’s, but that other areas have taken its place.

“I think where in the past, there has been a lot of focus on ‘disrespect’ and us unpacking, ‘Well, that’s really subjective,’” Harrison said, “we’ve seen that almost be a nonexistent referral.

“While that process has happened and we’ve seen ‘disrespect’ go away, then you see things like ‘disruption’ and ‘defiance’ creeping up because, again, there’s some level of subjectivity in that.”

Harrison said that one way to measure the success of the district’s efforts with Positive Behavior Intervention and Support was to see if the method was helping reach 80 to 90 percent of students.

“When we look at what the data says, out of the 11,982 students, the number of students that we have with ODR’s was 1,016,” Harrison said. “So it’s working [for] 91.5 percent of our students, overall.”

But in those overall numbers, a common problem showed itself – 97 percent of Asian students, almost 95 percent of multi-racial students, 94 percent of white students and 90 percent of Latino students went without a discipline referral throughout the entire school year.

“And then we get to African-American, and almost 73 percent of our students had zero referrals,” Harrison said. “That’s really an eye-opener I think for us.

“We know there’s disproportionality, but I think that that is glaring for us to say, ‘This is not working.’”

Harrison said it was time to realize punitive discipline does not help the students and that new methods must be used, including restorative practices and interventions.

Harrison said some improvements were now being made as teachers were being required to take a two-day course on restorative practices as part of Project ADVANCE.

That training will be extended to administrators as well, the board said on Thursday.

Harrison said the next steps included reviewing the data with principles at each school and keeping track of the restorative practice training.

The board also emphasized equity as a cornerstone in its search for a new superintendent after citizen input.

The board is hoping a new superintendent will be in place in January.

Interim Superintendent Takes Over Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools

For the first time in five years, the Chapel Hill – Carrboro City School System has someone other than Tom Forcella leading the district as superintendent. Forcella’s retirement was effective at the end of July.

Now, Dr. Jim Causby is taking over the superintendent position on an interim basis.

Causby says he has worked at all levels of public education in North Carolina during his more than 40 year career.

“I had the pleasure of working as a teacher at the elementary and middle school levels for several years,” Causby said, “and then was an elementary principal, a middle school principal and a high school principal.

“And then my superintendent career, I covered three districts over a period of 27 years.”

After he retired from his post as superintendent in Johnston County, Causby said he took on statewide roles in public education.

“Fist one as executive director of the North Carolina Association of School Administrators….did that role for two years,” Causby said. “And then I became executive director of the School Superintendents Association.”

Causby said those roles allowed him to visit and speak in every school system across North Carolina and has extended his career beyond what he initially planned.

“I’ve been trying to retire for a long time, in fact I’ve done it five times, and people keep coming along and saying, ‘How about doing this for us,’” Causby said. “I love public education, and I love the role and being involved and doing the good things we do for young people.”

While his retirement may not have gone according to plan, Causby said he is now able to be very selective over what he would like to be doing, which led him to be interested when Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools was in need of an interim superintendent.

“This school system is among the best,” Causby said. “There’s no question about that. It’s among the best in North Carolina, among the best in the southeast, among the best across the nation.”

Causby continued, “This system does a lot of things the right way. That doesn’t mean there are not issues and things that need to be worked on and improved, there certainly are.

“That’s the case everywhere.”

Causby said he will get direction from the school board of priorities it would like to see prioritized during his tenure. He said those priorities include Project ADVANCE, which Causby called an “outstanding initiative, and I think again the school system is leading the way in that.”

Another priority Causby said he has heard from the board is work aimed at closing the achievement gap.

“The equity issue – how do we make sure that every single child in the school system is achieving at their potential,” Causby asked.

Causby said he views his role when leading the system as being one to keep the train on the tracks until a new conductor is chosen.

“It’s more a role of maintaining, of looking at where things are and continuing those things and making sure they’re being done,” Causby said, “looking at the priorities of the Board of Education and making sure that those are continuing to be talked about and emphasized until a new superintendent is on board.”

Causby said when he was chosen as interim superintendent that a goal of his was to meet every district employee within the first 30 days on the job.

The school board has said it hopes to have a permanent superintendent in place at the beginning of the 2017 calendar year.

There are several ways for the public to get involved in the search for the new superintendent.

New Athletic Director Named at East Chapel Hill High School

Randy Trumbower is the new athletic director at East Chapel Hill High School.

The position was approved by the Chapel Hill – Carrboro City School Board of Education on Thursday night.

Trumbower has been a special education teacher and case manager at Chapel Hill High School since 2007, according to the district, and he has served as the chair of the Exceptional Children Department.

Trumbower was named the 2016-2017 Teach of the Year at Chapel Hill High, where he served as the head baseball coach from 2009 – 2013 and assistant athletic director since 2014.

Trumbower earned his bachelor degree from Appalachian State University while playing football and baseball for the Mountaineers.

Trumbower is replacing the retired Ray Hartsfield.