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.

Public Input Open for CHCCS Superintendent Search

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education began its search for a new superintendent and is seeking input from the community.

Current superintendent Tom Forcella is retiring on August 1 after five years with the district. Jim Causby has been selected as the interim superintendent.

The North Carolina School Boards Association is working alongside the Board of Education to assist with the search for a candidate by conducting a short community survey and holding public hearings.

The survey will assist board members shape and get a sense of what qualities and characteristics in a superintendent are most important to the school system.

The board is encouraging parents and interested community members to complete the survey available online in English or Spanish.

Along with completing the survey, the board is asking residents to sign up to comment publicly at the public forums which will be held August 30 at seven o’clock in the evening at Chapel Hill High School and September 10 at 1:30 in the afternoon at Northside Elementary School.

Interested community members can also submit written statements to Allison Schafer via mail, at NCSBA, P.O. Box 97877, Raleigh, NC 27624, email, at, or fax, at 919-841-4020.

All surveys and comments must be completed by Thursday, September 1. The NCSBA will then compile, summarize and present their findings at a board meeting on September 15.

Anyone interested in applying for the superintendent must complete an application and meet requirements detailed on the NCSBA website by September 1.

Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools Meeting to Name Interim Superintendent

The Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools Board of Education has called a special meeting for Wednesday night to name an interim superintendent for the district.

Dr. Tom Forcella announced in late May that he would be retiring after five years leading the district as its superintendent.

The school board then met with officials from the North Carolina School Board Association to craft an application for the next superintendent at its subsequent meetings.

Meanwhile, the school board and state agency have been jointly reviewing applications for the interim superintendent position. School district spokesperson Jeff Nash said that five applications were being considered.

The school board put forward a hopeful timeline of having Forcella’s replacement in place to begin working in January 2017.

Forcella’s retirement is effective August 1.

The meeting announcing the interim superintendent is scheduled for six o’clock Wednesday night at Lincoln Center. The meeting is open to the public.

Magda Parvey: Hometown Hero

Magda Parvey is Tuesday’s Hometown Hero.

Dr. Parvey is the outgoing assistant superintendent for instructional services at Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.  Dr. Parvey has gotten a lot done since 2012.

She came to our community from New York and will be returning to that state.

With Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools superintendent Dr. Tom Forcella also leaving the district, it’s quite a time of transition.

You can nominate your own Hometown Hero.  WCHL has honored local members of our community everyday since 2002.

Citizens Voice Racial Equity Concerns at Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board Meeting

To combat racial inequities in education, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools are seeking a superintendent willing to align their priorities with that of the local citizens and school board.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’ Board of Education met last Thursday at Lincoln Center to listen to concerns from local citizens and make any changes necessary to current documents, including those regarding the application for a new superintendent. Tom Forcella, the current superintendent, is set to retire August 1 after working in the district for five years.

Also included in the conversation were concerns about the Equity Plan Draft, which was presented Thursday as well. The draft sought to end racial inequity in schools by creating an inclusive culture that would work to eliminate the achievement gap.

But as community members reflected upon their experiences in the school system, many expressed desires for a revised plan.

Of those who spoke during the comments section, several voiced their hope for a superintendent that would make significant progress to close the achievement gap and dissipate present stigmas surrounding race in education.

“I want [the superintendent] to be able to look into any of the racial disparities that we have so far within our system,” said Joyce Powell, mother of both a graduate and current student in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. “I know the board has worked hard on putting forward some other implementations to help, but I think we can do a little bit better…every child matters, and to me, this is what this is all about.”

The school system has had its successes in the past, with three high schools ranking highly in the state. But according to Samantha Cabe, local attorney and mother to children in the school system, those labels don’t reflect every child’s experience, especially minority children.

Cabe said that her children, who are not in the minority, may go on to succeed academically without any changes, but she also said they may be harmed by their childhood friends being denied opportunities for advancement.

“They will be harmed by an environment where both achievement and discipline are dependent on skin color…I hope that this board will really focus on finding a superintendent that makes [changing] this a priority because we have the opportunity in this district, with our strong focus on academics to be high schools one, two and three but we have to address our system as a whole…from the top down, from the superintendent down, have an attitude that is about a love of learning and a love of their community and a love of their neighbors. And I mean all neighbors.”

The board then had a closed discussion to revise the superintendent application, addressing citizens’ concerns about the Equity Plan. In it, they attempted to make explicit expectations for the incoming superintendent.

“In the discussion about equity tonight, for example, do we need to beef that up in this particular application?” asked Allison Schafer, director of policy for the North Carolina School Board Association. “I know that was a focus of the board’s, and that was useful for us to hear that.”

The rest of the board agreed, noting the importance of taking citizen concerns into account.

“I’d actually like to see that in the number one provisionary of educational leadership along with the understanding of equity factors and influence of equity on educational outcomes,” said board member Rani Dasi.

CHCCS Working Through Budget Questions

Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools assistant superintendent Todd LoFrese said at the Board of Education meeting last Thursday that the system is receiving new information regarding the budgetary process, but that does not necessarily make the picture any clearer.

“We do have a lot more information,” LoFrese said, “however, we have the same amount of uncertainty I think because we really don’t know what’s going to happen, as of now, and what it all means for our operating budget next year.”

The muddiness of the situation comes because no state or local operating budget is set in stone.

The state House and Senate have both released appropriations proposals, but LoFrese said the two proposals have very different strategies and outcomes regarding teacher pay.

“The House provides a more modest increase of around 3.5 percent, an average of 3.5 percent that is,” he said. “The Senate’s version is closer to six percent.”

In the school board’s budget request to the county, the system had estimated a five percent increase across the board.

The school’s budget also asked for approximately $4.5 million in additional funds from the county in order to boost teacher pay. The district has already committed to the additional funding to boost the local teacher pay supplement, in response to Wake County increasing its local supplement.

The county manager’s budget proposal did not fully fund the increased requests from each of the local districts, which has been the subject of two public comment sessions to the County Commissioners.

Board member Pat Heinrich said the district has already seen a positive impact in recruiting potential teachers with the increased supplement.

LoFrese said, while the recommended budget does not fully fund the requests, there is an increase in per-pupil spending.

“Twenty-four dollars [increase] per pupil,” LoFrese said. “And [the manager] also recommended funding all of the nurses and school resource officers in the district, as well as Orange County Schools.

“This is a benefit to the district.”

LoFrese added that the net increase from increased per-pupil spending may not be what some were expecting because the district’s enrollment is projected to decrease next academic year.

“The net increase in funding to the district is about $350,000,” he said. “Our request was a request of about $4.5 million.”

LoFrese said the district has received concerned comments from parents over the decreasing in staffing at some schools, but LoFrese said that correlated to the drop in enrollment and was not a reflection of any budget concerns.

The County Commissioners will meet several times in the month of June – including a regular meeting on Tuesday and a budget work session on Thursday of this week – before possibly approving a final budget on June 21.

CHCCS Teachers Upset With Project Advance

Project Advance is a new payment method Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools will implement during the 2016-2017 school year.

The program would base teacher raises not on number of years in the district, but instead on professional development.

Orange County Commissioner Penny Rich said the commissioners have been receiving emails from teachers who don’t think the program is a good idea.

“These emails are disturbing to me,” she said. “You have veteran teachers that don’t feel comfortable with this program. They feel they were forced to go into the program because it was the only way they can get a raise.”

Rich said she received emails from 7 different teachers before beginning to communicate with teachers and representatives from the NC Association of Educators over the phone.

“One of the people who sent an email felt like there was retribution taken out on them,” she said. “They felt they could no longer send emails because someone was clocking the emails and they felt they were not in a safe place by sending emails anymore.”

Rich said she spoke with around 20 people over the phone after that.

Current CHCCS staff had the option of opting out of the project, but according to the Project Advance website, depending on years of service, a teacher’s supplements would stagnate and not reach the levels they could have under the previous system.

East Chapel Hill High School teacher Keith Gerdes said in an email to the commissioners that many of his colleagues chose to opt in “under duress.”

Superintendent Tom Forcella said nearly 1,000 people chose to opt in and that the district attracted new teachers because of Project Advance.

“We have done nothing to close the achievement gap, so if you keep doing what you always have done, you’ll keep getting the same thing,” he said. “And through intentional planning to reach all of the students, we will close the achievement gap.”

No teachers will receive a pay cut with the implementation of Project Advance, but those who opt in will go through a level of benchmarking that could cause them to show things such as lesson plans.

“Change is difficult,” Forcella said. “There are teachers that will tell me ‘I have 25 years of experience you mean you’re telling me I have to write a lesson plan?’ Well I’d say ‘yes, you do.'”

It is unclear what, if anything, the county commissioners can do if they have a problem with the direction of Project Advance.

Commissioners give funding to the schools and part of that funding goes towards paying the supplement provided to teachers.

Forcella said Project Advance would be cost-neutral to the district and the commissioners do not control how money is distributed.

That decision falls to the Board of Education, which has planned the project for nearly five years and multiple boards have unanimously approved it.

Project Advance is scheduled to be implemented during the next school year.

Valecia Jones: Hometown Hero

Valecia Jones is Friday’s Hometown Hero.

She’s been with the PTA Thrift Shops her entire life.  For the past 16 years, she’s been the organization’s operations director.  Executive Director Barbara Jessie-Black says she’s the glue that holds it all together.

All net profits from PTA Thrift Shop stores are divided among Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’ PTAs according to student population and volunteer hours. The PTA Thrift Shop is a major source of funding for all elementary school PTAs and for virtually every club, team, music group and other student organization in the middle and high schools.

You can nominate your own Hometown Hero.  WCHL has honored local members of our community everyday since 2002.

Chapel Hill – Carrboro Schools Superintendent Tom Forcella Retiring

Dr. Tom Forcella is retiring from his position as superintendent of the Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools District.

The announcement came on Tuesday afternoon.

Forcella has worked in school districts across the country for 42 years and has been with CHCCS since 2011.

“My five years in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools have been extremely rewarding,” Forcella said in a release. “I am thankful for the opportunity to work with our amazing students, as well as the staff, parents and agencies that make this community remarkable.”

CHCCS Board of Education chair James Barrett also released a statement following the news of Forcella’s retirement:

“While sad to lose him at this critical time, I am grateful for Dr. Forcella’s five years of service to this district. His efforts to improve quality of instruction will make a lasting impact for the benefit of all our students. These efforts are cultural shifts in our district that will live beyond his tenure and continue to help our students succeed.”

James Barrett spoke Tuesday with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.


Forcella’s retirement is effective August 1.

The next meeting of the Board of Education is at seven o’clock next Thursday, June 2.

Culbreth Middle School Teacher Named District Teacher of the Year

Culbreth Middle School teacher Jessie Grinnell has been named the Chapel Hill – Carrboro School District Teacher of the Year.

The award was announced at the Annual Recognition Reception on Friday at Carrboro High School.

Grinnell teaches eighth-grade English Language Arts at Culbreth.

As part of the award, Grinnell received a $1,000 check from the Bank of North Carolina as well as gifts from area businesses.

You can see the full list of recipients honored at the ceremony here.