CHAPEL HILL – Glenwood Elementary school is already beyond capacity, and next year the school will go beyond its current numbers.
In order to discuss the best plan of attack to mitigate the problem, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools district is trying a new style of meeting to discuss the options called a Focused Dialogue.
“It’s very hard to have a conversation with 10,000 elementary school parents,” says the district’s assistant superintendent for support services, Todd LoFrese.. “We’re trying to have a workable group to get representation from the school and to be able to have a conversation around that topic.”
LoFrese says students are going to have to be moved next year. On Monday, district officials, teachers, school administrators, and members of the PTA will meet in small groups to go over the variety of ways to move the students.
“Either spot redistricting or moving the Mandarin Dual-Language program to a larger school, consideration of creating another magnet school, and then there’s a series of other options,” LoFrese says. “But, they all involve moving students. It could be done in phases, it could be done all at once, and so each of those has different pros and cons in terms of how you do it.”
While only a handful of people will be directly commenting on the options Monday, LoFrese says everyone interested will have a chance to get involved.
“We’ll have an electronic way for people to submit feedback and input,” LoFrese says. “There’s also all the other ways that people have been communicating with administration through email or phone calls, to the schools through School Improvement Teams meetings, and then directly to the school board either electronically or by participating in public participation at board meetings.”
Monday’s meeting is being held Monday at 6:00 p.m. at EastChapel HillHigh School. The meeting is open to the public.http://chapelboro.com/news/pre-k-12-education/chccs-hold-focused-dialogue-glenwood-elem-population/
CHAPEL HILL – Teachers at Chapel Hill High School are accusing the school’s principal of plagiarism in internal communications, but Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools District Superintendent Tom Forcella says many of the resources she used were likely the same a lot of principals and teachers use.
“I know that there are a variety of books that principals have access to with sample letters,” Forcella says.
Forcella says he has reviewed the letters in question. One was compared to a letter Principal Salura Jackson wrote at her former school, Skyline High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan; the other was compared to one written by an Arizona high school administrator.
“It sounds very similar to letters I’ve read time and again that probably use the same model that are in a variety of different books that principals can pick up that really, kind of, give you a framework for writing a letter,” Forcella says.
Teachers told the Independent Weekly that they were embarrassed when they found out she did this. However, the works were not published; they were internal communications and she told the Indy she could point out the sources if someone asked.
Forcella says the point that was most puzzling to him was that the article pointed to the fact that Jackson copied letters she wrote while she was at her former school.
“Ms. Jackson was the founding principal of the school that she worked at and the only principal they ever had,” Forcella says. “So, I think if she’s using information or using written material from her prior school, she probably wrote it.”
Forcella says he hopes the school and the district will learn from this matter about how to best handle internal matters.
“If this were a concern by a few staff members, I think it would have been a lot easier to contact the principal directly and just say ‘I’m wondering if this was cited correctly’ or ‘I saw this letter somewhere else’ rather than going to the media and created a story that I think there was a perfect explanation for,” Forcella says.http://chapelboro.com/news/pre-k-12-education/chccs-superintendent-plagiarism-accusations-gone-too-far/
CHAPEL HILL – Parents, students, and Chapel Hill’s mayor, Mark Kleinschmidt, lined the sidewalk outside Estes Hills Elementary School Monday morning to praise the teachers at the start of American Education Week.
***Listen to the Story***
Teachers of Estes Hills walked by the students and parents who were cheering them on and saying thank you for all they do.
Mayor Kleinschmidt told a group that stuck around after the teacher parade that he got a bit choked up looking on.
“As a former teacher myself and someone who cares deeply about education, particularly that of our children here in Chapel Hill, it’s very heart-warming and celebratory, and it’s such a stark contrast to the way so many folks in North Carolina seem to be engaging with education today,” Mayor Kleinschmidt says.
In 1921, the Nation Education Association and the American Legion came together to create the American Education Week after finding out that 25 percent of the country’s World War I draftees were illiterate.
PTA President Courtney Limerick says with the current need of support around education in the state, this was a good time to start an outward show of support.
“The way things are in the state today, this was a great time to be able to show our appreciation throughout the year instead of just on Teacher Appreciation Week,” Limerick says.
Teacher Appreciation Week is May 6-10 this school year.
Mayor Kleinschmidt adds that the amount of work is only going up while the financial and other support is dwindling.
“These teachers haven’t had a raise in six years,” Mayor Kleinschmidt says. “The support has been dwindling; teachers’ aids have been cut. They’re working harder than they ever had before and are being rewarded less.”
Estes Hills Principal Drew Ware says support from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools district continues to be strong, but it’s on the state level where he and others would like to see a change.
“Certainly paying our teachers more, paying our staff more is incredibly important,” Ware says. “It has an impact on students, but there are a number of other things that have a negative impact on students. Our district has done an amazing job of helping to, kind of, protect and build up around our students so they’re getting the best education they possibly can.”
American Education Week continues through Friday:
Monday, November 18: Kickoff Day
Nationwide Kickoff. Across the country, schools will celebrate excellence in education by hosting kickoff events and activities.
Tuesday, November 19: Parents Day
Schools will invite parents into the classroom for a firsthand look at what the school day is like for their children.
Wednesday, November 20: Education Support Professionals Day
Education Support Professionals keep schools running and students safe, healthy and ready to learn. Check out these charts to see how hard ESPs work to serve students in public schools and how committed ESPs are to both their jobs and their communities. Also watch the “It’s More Than Just a Job” videos below to learn more about ESP careers.
Raise Your Hand for Student Success: Education Support Professional Appreciation Radio Spot By 2013 ESP of the Year Donna Schulze
Thursday, November 21: Educator for a Day
Community leaders will be invited to experience the day as educators and experience the challenges of teaching and the needs of students. Learn more about this program through the Educator for a Day Promotional Kit.
Friday, November 22: Substitute Educators Day
Substitute educators play a vital role in the maintenance and continuity of daily education. Learn more about these professionals and take a look at resources and tips for substitute educators.http://chapelboro.com/news/pre-k-12-education/parents-students-wear-red-support-teachers/
My first play in high school was “Little Shop of Horrors.” I was a sixteen-year-old junior, still in the midst of breaking out of my shy-nerd shell—and “Little Shop” pretty much completed the process. (Though playing Seymour, it helped to keep that shy-nerd persona around. My director/drama teacher told the local paper she instantly thought “Seymour!” the first time she ever saw me, and I’m still not sure whether that’s a compliment or an insult.)
It was a terrific experience.
But because it was my first play, I feel a sense of ownership over “Little Shop” that I don’t feel with any other show. Which means my relationship with “Little Shop” is a love/hate thing: it’s absolutely my favorite musical, no question (I’m one of those annoying people who lip-synchs along with all the songs), but I also have a really specific idea in my head for how I think the show ought to go—so invariably I end up walking out of the theater going, “Man, I loved that! But gee, if only they’d done this, and this, and this…”
(It’s a blessing and a curse.)
So. They’re doing “Little Shop” at East Chapel Hill High School, now through Saturday, 7:30 p.m. every night. Y’all should go.
Of course I was there for opening night. How did ECHHS’ version stack up to my imagined ideal?
Pretty well, actually, all things considered.
I was impressed as soon as I walked into the theater: the preshow soundtrack is all doo-wop music from the 50s and 60s, and they project a loop of old B-movie trailers against the curtain. Nicely played. I had a lot of fun just sitting there watching those.
As for the show itself. If you don’t know, “Little Shop” too is a takeoff of a B-movie horror flick, with songs inspired by early-60s doo-wop. It’s the story of a nebbish named Seymour Krelborn (played here by John Pate), working in a rundown Skid Row flower shop, whose life takes a sudden turn when he runs across a “strange and interesting” plant—an unidentifiable flytrap he names “Audrey 2” after the girl he’s secretly pining after (“the girl” here played by Danielle Katz). And suddenly everything’s great for Seymour—aside from the fact that the plant turns out to be a talking, scheming, very hungry alien with a taste for human flesh…
It’s a comedy. Go with it.
“Little Shop” is a popular show for high schools in part because it offers the coolest special effects that a high-school production can reasonably pull off. That would be Audrey 2, always the star of the show—a moving, talking plant that grows and grows as the show progresses. (How does it work? There are four Audrey 2 puppets all told: two hand puppets for the early scenes, then two much more elaborate contraptions manipulated by an unseen performer inside. In ECHHS’ production, Shira Snyder and Austin Lord are credited as the puppetmasters—but Pate, as Seymour, also gets to play puppeteer in one song. Watch for it.) Manipulating Audrey 2 is a daunting task—when our high school staged “Little Shop,” we cheated and had a teacher do it—so kudos to Snyder and Lord for making it work. (Kudos also to director Hope Hynes Love and set designer Alec Arshavsky. The set design for “Little Shop” is deceptively simple—all but one of the scenes take place either in or just outside the shop, but the design still needs to account for the fact that you have to move gigantic plants on and off stage in mid-scene, without anyone noticing. They do a fine job with it. I also liked the glass window they put in the backdrop—so you can see unheard conversations transpiring outside the shop throughout the show.)
So, how did it all come together?
I loved the little directorial touches Hope Hynes Love sprinkled throughout the show. A wino (Evan Douglass) takes a leak behind a phone booth. Audrey—the human Audrey—gives a dollar to a homeless woman. The Kleenex Seymour uses to win Audrey’s heart (“Suddenly Seymour”) gets called back later, when he’s weighing whether to destroy the plant and a spotlight suddenly fixes on it. Stick around for intermission, and you’ll catch Seymour creeping out on stage to dispose of evidence midway through.
And speaking of Seymour, let’s talk about the acting. From an actor’s perspective, “Little Shop” is a thin, thin tightrope to walk: it’s a campy parody, sure, but it also really cares about its lead characters, really loves them and wants them to succeed. Audrey’s song “Somewhere That’s Green” is the best example: it’s Audrey’s dream of a perfect life, and we chuckle because it’s so mundane—a garbage disposal, frozen dinners, a TV with a “big enormous 12-inch screen”—but at the same time, she believes in it so darn much that we find ourselves believing in it too. (Especially since Audrey’s real life is so horrible that, mundane as her dream is, it’s a dream she can never really hope to attain.) It’s a devastating song, when it’s done right. But you have to do it right. The temptation with “Little Shop” is to play up the camp and make it jokey—but the reason the show succeeds is that there’s a very real emotional heart at the center of it all, so to make it work you have to play it straight. (I saw the Broadway revival in 2004, with Joey Fatone as Seymour. They, um…did not play it straight.)
But as Seymour and Audrey, John Pate and Danielle Katz play it straight. “Suddenly Seymour,” their second-act duet, doesn’t have quite the crowd-rousing finish it could have, but whatever: Katz blows the roof off the place with “Somewhere That’s Green”—I got choked up—and Pate absolutely nails Seymour’s tragic desperation in his “Skid Row” solo. I could quibble with both performances if I want—all the actors do have those moments where they rush through the lines and choreography without stopping to feel them, and that’s true of the two leads as well—but let’s stick with this compliment: Pate and Katz get Seymour and Audrey better than anyone I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen “Little Shop” on Broadway.
(My one directorial quibble: Seymour should keep his glasses on.)
From the technical side, the show is solid but still has a few kinks. Well, really just one, and it’s the same problem you get with every musical: how to make sure the orchestra doesn’t overwhelm the actors’ voices. (The actors do wear mics, which helps a bit. I didn’t have much of a problem with it anyway, but then again I know all the songs by heart.) But I did find myself impressed with the lighting design, especially the use of strobes and backlighting to make Audrey 2 that much more menacing. Well done there. (Credit Domenica Sutherland for lights—and credit Audrey 2’s voice actors Ethan Fox and Jones Bell for the menacing laugh.)
Highlights: “Skid Row” and “Somewhere That’s Green” in the first act and “Suppertime” in the second; I also liked the grand finale, where the special effects really take over. (Lowlight: “Call Back In The Morning,” the opening number of the second act. This is not ECHHS’ fault. It is just a bad song.)
So, final verdict: Is “Little Shop” worth seeing? Absolutely. It’s true, I did walk out of the theater saying “Gee, if only they’d done this, and this, and this”…but I also walked out saying, “Man, I loved that.”
For me, with “Little Shop,” the two tend to go hand in hand.http://chapelboro.com/columns/aaron-keck/hold-your-hat-and-hang-onto-your-soul-little-shop-at-echhs/
CHAPEL HILL- Thursday’s release of the state Common Core Standard test results shows areas in which Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools need improvement, but officials say that’s due in part to the fundamental nature of the curriculum changes.
“The demands on students are changing. There’s a lot more writing, there’s a lot more deep reading of the text, so it is not this sort of superficial ‘glean a few things and keep moving,’” says Chapel Hill-Carrboro’s Executive Director of Testing and Program Evaluation, Diane Villwock. She says the new standards require students to adopt a different style of learning to master the material.
“We’re writing in mathematics, we’re writing in science, we’re writing in social studies. People have to have evidence to support their position. It’s a much more rigorous, higher-order thinking skills kind of requirement,” says Vilwock.
She notes that the amount of material covered in the early grades has changed to allow a more in-depth understanding of key concepts.
“From [kindergarten through fourth grade], students are learning basics at a very deep level, so if you’re subtracting, you have to be able to explain why you subtracted, you have to have the numeric understanding behind that, so K-4 is much less content, actually.”
She says once the children reach grades five, six, and seven, the content level increases because they have a foundation on which to build.
North Carolina adopted the Common Core Standards in 2010. The 2012-2013 school year was the first in which the teachers, students, and parents saw them fully implemented in the classroom.
Vilwock says teachers were well prepared for the changes, but nonetheless the district is continuing to work to make sure the transition process is smooth.
“The district has hired a firm out of the University of Pittsburgh called the Institute for Learning and they’ve been working with us last eyar and into this year teaching teachers how to have the instructional methodology that they need.”
The district met the majority of the state and federal proficiency expectations, but economically disadvantaged high school students struggled to meet many of the testing goals.
Officials warn against jumping to conclusions as this is the first year students have been tested using the new standards. Instead, they say this data will form the baseline for comparisons in coming years.
Letter from the Superintendent Regarding Test Results for 2012-13
CHAPEL HILL-The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City school board on Thursday backed away from a proposal to covert an existing elementary to a new dual language magnet in time for the start of the 2014 school year.
“I am not interested in doing something super major by 2014. I think our communities will not support that and I can’t support that,” said Board Chair Shell Brownstein.
More than 100 parents turned out to protest both the plan and the timing, as many said they learned of the proposal only four days prior to Thursday’s school board meeting.
The majority of the 40 speakers pleaded with the school board to reconsider separating the traditional and Spanish dual language students at Carrboro Elementary.
“That’s what this program is supposed to do, integrating our community. It is working,” said Charlie Wiss, father of two at the school. “Why would you want to dismantle that? I really don’t know.”
Although no school was named as a potential site for a new magnet school, Carrboro parents fear the plan to combine Mandarin and Spanish dual language classrooms together at one magnet school would pull apart Carrboro Elementary, where currently half the students are enrolled in the Spanish dual language program.
Many parents expressed frustration that school officials would consider such a sweeping change less than a year after both wide-spread redistricting and the conversion of Frank Porter Graham into the district’s first magnet.
Carrboro Alderman Jacqueline Gist said she’s so strongly opposed to the plan that she was moved to address the school board in public for the first time in her twenty-four years as an elected official.
“On behalf of our community, for economic development reasons, for the good of our children and for the walkability of our community, please do not take our children away from our school,” said Gist.
Alderman Sammy Slade also addressed the school board, alternating between English and Spanish. Both Aldermen said Carrboro leaders would likely vote next week to formally oppose the plan.
This latest dual language debate was sparked by the need to address overcrowding at Glenwood Elementary, home of the district’s Mandarin Chinese dual language program.
Assistant Superintendent Todd LoFrese said increased enrollment in the Mandarin program combined with growth in the school’s attendance zone put the district’s smallest school nearly 100 students over capacity this year, with that number expected to rise in coming years.
***Listen to LoFrese’s presentation***
And while spot-redistricting for Glenwood may be a short-term solution, LoFrese said the school board needs to develop a comprehensive, long-range plan for the future of the Mandarin program.
“A plan for Mandarin dual language is needed really before proceeding with the movement of any students,” said LoFrese.
He suggested that slowing the expansion of the program might be the best choice for the district at this time.
“I kind of feel like we may have had horse blinders on as we’ve tried to get the Mandarin expansion to fit,” said LoFrese. “And so I question whether the lens needs to be broader and consider whether we really should be trying to develop solutions to facilitate an expansion at this time, at the expense of disruption to the district.”
Some school board members were hesitant to embrace the idea of a slow-down, having voted in 2012 to expand the program and more recently to add an additional dual language classroom at Glenwood.
Board member James Barrett explained the latest expansion: “There was a unique opportunity to add a single class because of a wonderful teacher who could teach both [languages]. That was a unique opportunity. We took advantage of it and started this class earlier than we had originally planned to.”
Though no vote was taken, the majority of the board indicated a preference for spot-redistricting to temporarily relieve overcrowding at Glenwood while officials explore other options and look to create a broader plan for the dual language program.
Superintendent Tom Forcella said that ultimately, changes to the dual language program could impact the district as a whole.
“I understand the concern from the people from Carrboro, but you have to understand that, as this conversation evolves, it is not just including Carrboro, it’s Seawell, it’s Rashkis, it’s FPG and it’s Northside as we get deeper into the weeds of what the ramifications could be,” said Forcella.
Currently, the school board has no timeline for a decision on spot-redistricting, the magnet plan, or other proposals. Administrators will return with recommendations for the board in the near future.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/chccs-parents-pan-new-dual-language-magnet-plan/
CHAPEL HILL – Economically disadvantaged children in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools system didn’t meet state standards under the new Common Core READY system, but state officials and district leaders say the new system needs time to normalize.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’ Superintendent Tom Forcella says plans have already been put into motion to improve on the numbers that for the most part met or exceeded the new standards in most categories.
“We’ve created a new long-range plan—a new vision for the school district—which is rooted in the concept of a growth mindset, which believes that intelligence is not stagnant, that I.Q. was developed as a way to sort children,” Forcella says.
The Long Range Plan lays out a five-year strategy of implementing 28 goals—some of which will take a multiple years to take full effect and others that may only take a year.
“One of our goals in our new plan is to eliminate the achievement gap,” Forcella says. “We have a number of strategies in place to do that. One is the equal opportunity schools initiative, but we also feel the way to do that is to improve instruction in all our classrooms.”
Executive Director of Testing and Program Evaluation, Diane Villwock says the new Common Core Standards are all about better understanding the information.
“The difference in Common Core is there are far fewer standards,” Villwock says. “So, the amount of stuff that people are supposed to learn in a given year is quite a bit smaller. But, they’re going to learn it at a much deeper level.”
Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools met 96.6 percent of the 560 federal goals, which have been in place since 2001; North Carolina’s READY structure of Common Core Standards were met at a rate of 94.6 percent and included 947 goals.
Villwock says it’s important for parents not to jump to conclusions about these numbers, because there’s really no way of telling just how the numbers stack up.
“It’s significantly like—so much so—that (the state) said this is baseline data—it’s our first year picture—and we can’t compare it to last year,” Villwock says. “I’ve been doing this job for over 20 years, and we’ve never said that before.”
To see Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’ scores in the READY Common Core Standards, click here.
To see the statewide READY Accountability Report, click here.
2012-13 Testing Results Released for CHCCS
Proficiency expectations met in nearly every area
CHAPEL HILL, NC – Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools (CHCCS) students met or exceeded proficiency expectations in nearly every area in 2012-13, according to newly released testing results from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. The one area where expectations were not met was the Economically Disadvantaged Students group.
According to the results released November 7, the district met 96.6 percent of the 560 federal goals and 94.6 percent of the 947 state goals. Of the 27 achievement goals that were missed, 20 were for the Economically Disadvantaged Students group.
“We recognize there is one group that stands out in the data, one group that whose academic needs are not being met,” said Superintendent Tom Forcella. “Our district’s greatest challenge is bringing up the proficiency levels of our economically disadvantaged students.”
Thursday’s results are the first to be released as part of a comprehensive overhaul of the state’s Standard Course of Study, the student assessment program and the school accountability model. The new student assessments were aligned to the revised Standard Course of Study and were given for the first time in the 2012-13 school year. As a result, these proficiency results cannot be compared with previous years’ scores. This year’s scores will serve as a baseline to measure gains in future years.
Whenever new standards are set, test score results indicate a drop at first. This is an ordinary trend. While CHCCS scores appear significantly lower than in previous years, it is important to note that new Common Core Standards have ushered in increased rigor and higher expectations. Compared to previous years, students must demonstrate higher levels of achievement in order to be considered proficient. Within the new parameters, the district outpaced state proficiency averages by a wide margin.
The new accountability model uses End-of-Grade (EOG) and End-of-Course (EOC) tests, ACT scores, graduation rates, math course rigor, ACT WorkKeys assessments and other information to measure student performance.
The goal of the accountability program is to reduce the percent of students in each of the tested subgroups who are non-proficient by half over a six-year period. Proficiency is defined as Level III or IV on state tests. Levels I and II are considered non-proficient. The federal subgroups include: all, African American, Asian, Latino, Multi-racial, Native American, White, economically disadvantaged, limited English proficient and students with disabilities. The state also reports outcomes for academically intellectually gifted students.
Schools also continued to be measured against Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) to ensure that attention remains focused on closing performance gaps among student subgroups. The AMOs were developed using federal guidelines and are a series of performance targets that specific subgroups of students must achieve each year to meet the federal law’s requirements. The AMOs were recalculated for the 2012-13 accountability year since all the tests given were new this past year.
The results show that in 2012-13:
“Students must meet more rigorous standards and demonstrate their understanding of concepts in more challenging ways,” said Dr. Magda Parvey, Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services. “We are entirely focused on aligning our curriculum and teaching strategies to the new standards. Our teachers and instructional team continue to participate in professional development with high expectations for raising student achievement levels.”
The 2012-13 school year is considered a transition year for student performance results, so there will be no consequences for students or schools this year.http://chapelboro.com/news/pre-k-12-education/chccs-scores-well-on-new-state-tests-econ-disadvantaged-below-mark/
CHAPEL HILL – The first round of North Carolina’s Common Core Standard scores are scheduled to be released Thursday morning with the understanding that the numbers aren’t looking good.
Test scores were originally scheduled to be released in October, but instead, the Department of Public Instruction discussed the benchmark for passing scores.
State officials considered whether or not to lower the initial passing scores to allow a chance to ease into the new system, but instead stuck with numbers that have many worried.
The new standards are designed to give the students more depth in their education. Rather than learning a large amount of topics, they are now supposed to be learning more about fewer topics.
The 2012-13 school year is being thought of as a transition year since there isn’t other information with which to compare the new numbers.
Stay tuned to WCHL and Chapelboro.com for the release of the test results. The state says it expects to release the numbers at around 11:00 a.m.http://chapelboro.com/news/pre-k-12-education/common-core-standard-scores-schedule-to-release/
CHAPEL HILL – Early voting begins Thursday, and we’re kicking off the week by bringing the candidates to you with two forums.
Monday from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., the four candidates seeking three seats on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board will take questions from WCHL’s Aaron Keck. We’ll broadcast the forums live on 97.9 FM, 1360 AM, and Chapelboro.com.
The Afternoon and Evening News will continue from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at which time the nine candidates for the Chapel Hill Town Council will be featured in our second forum.
We’ll have a full recap of both forums on the WCHL Morning News Tuesday, and you’ll be able to listen to the discussions in their entirety by visiting Chapelbor’s 2013 Election Central here.
Next week, we’ll keep the candidates coming with a forum Monday from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. featuring the five candidates for Carrboro Board of Aldermen.
Our final forum comes to you on Election Day Eve, Monday, November 4, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., when we’ll host Chapel Hill’s Mark Kleinschmidt, Hillsborough’s Tom Stevens, and Carrboro’s Lydia Lavelle–all running unopposed for mayor–for a special conversation about the future of the three towns in the next two years and beyond.http://chapelboro.com/news/election/hear-the-candidates-debate-the-issues-live/
HILLSBOROUGH- Orange County Commissioners on Tuesday signaled they may be willing to shift the focus of a proposed $100 million bond referendum.
In a prior discussion, the board talked about getting voter approval to finance a new jail, and a fifth middle school for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools system. Those two projects alone total $73 million.
But school board members from both the Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Orange County districts say aging schools are badly in need of repair, and fixing those could cost as much as $230 million.
Commissioner Mark Dorosin said he’d like some guarantee from district officials that renovating older schools would increase student capacity, delaying the need for new buildings.
“I think if we’re going to put any money into the renovation of these older schools, which is much needed, I think we should demand that any renovation increase capacity, whether it’s in the middle school or the elementary school,” said Dorosin. “Whatever those plans are, that money should have as an additional benefit that it is going to push out the next elementary school, the next middle school, the next high school, whatever it is.”
If voters approve a $100 million dollar bond package, Assistant County Manager Clarence Grier told the board that could mean raising the tax rate by 4.18 cents for the next 20 years to cover the $6.7 million annual debt payments.
In order to get the referendum on the ballot for the November 2014 election, the school boards and commissioners must come up with a list of priorities by early June.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro administrators have already completed a detailed assessment of the district’s older buildings, while Orange County school officials have a study underway. County Commissioners will discuss the timing of the possible bond package at a meeting later this fall.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/bocc-eyes-older-schools-for-bond-referendum/