Julie Hennis: Hometown Hero

Julie Hennis is Tuesday’s Hometown Hero.

Julie is a volunteer coordinator for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School System.  Recently, she was involved in a “Day of Service.”  The Orange/Chatham Board of Realtors got together for a day of community work at Chapel Hill High School.  Construction, Renovations, Repairs, and Beautification.

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



Commissioners To Hold Public Hearing On Upcoming Bond

The Board of Orange County Commissioners will be taking public comment on the upcoming bond Tuesday night.

It will be the first of two public hearings on the bond which, if passed in November, will be the largest in county history at $125 million.

Up to $120 million dollars is planned to make necessary health and safety upgrades to Orange County Schools and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. This would be the first step in acquiring the funding needed to finance over $300 million in repairs.

Another $5 million dollars is expected to go towards affordable housing.

The meeting will begin at seven p.m. at the Southern Human Services Building in Chapel Hill.

A second hearing will be held in Hillsborough May 5 at the Whitted Building, which will also begin at 7:00 p.m.


At CHCCS, Celebrating Local Volunteers

UNC-Chapel Hill has a well-earned reputation for public service, with thousands of students volunteering in our community every year – and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School district is recognizing them during National Volunteer Week.

National Volunteer Week runs from April 10-16. CHCCS volunteer coordinator George Ann McCay says she actively recruits UNC students to help out in the schools every year – and the students respond, working with students all the way from kindergarten to graduation.

McCay brought two volunteers onto WCHL this week to discuss their experiences with Aaron Keck: Mary Whatley, who works with ESL students at Carrboro High School, and Hayden Vick, who works with first and third graders at Estes Hills Elementary.


If you’d like to volunteer in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, visit the district’s volunteer page or stop by the volunteer office above the PTA Thrift Shop on Main Street in Carrboro.


Jim Wise: Hometown Hero

Jim Wise is Thursday’s Hometown Hero.

He is a Chapel Hill High School Student Assistance Program Specialist  and SAVE Advisor.  Jim coordinates “mock crash” events for high school students in the community.

The events are a result of collaboration between the school system, SAVE (Students Against Violence Everywhere) chapters at East Chapel Hill High and Chapel Hill High and many of our local emergency responders and agencies.

Students listen to speakers from law enforcement, emergency medicine, and the father of a young person who was killed by an impaired driver.  After the assembly, the students witness a crash scene reenactment.


The goal is to promote safe driving.

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


Realtors’ “Day Of Service” At Chapel Hill HS

This Monday, April 11, dozens of local realtors will head to Chapel Hill High School for a “Realtor Day of Service,” performing maintenance work to spruce up the campus from 9 am to noon.

They’re with the Greater Chapel Hill Association of Realtors, working with the CHCCS volunteer office. According to a district spokesperson, they’ll be tackling a variety of projects, including:

– Cleaning up, reorganizing and staging the trophy cases in the commons area between the cafeteria and the main gym, and down the hall to the lower gym;
– Painting the exterior wall of the main gym concession stand with spirited gold and black paint;
– Weeding, cleaning out and mulching the gardens in front of Hanes Auditorium;
– Weeding, cleaning out and mulching the memorial gardens near the front parking lot.

Orange Chatham Association of Realtors CEO Cub Berrian, CHCCS Volunteer Coordinator Julie Hennis, and Laura Malinchock of the Chapel Hill High School PTA joined Aaron Keck on WCHL to discuss the “Day of Service.”


CHCCS Takes Risk To Increase Teacher Pay

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’ Board of Education is committing to raising teacher pay in the district, but is doing so at their own risk.

The Board of Education has now officially locked themselves into raising the teacher supplement provided by the school system from 12 percent to 16 percent starting in August.

Teachers in North Carolina are given a base salary determined by the state, but individual school systems provide supplements .

“We are committing to that match increase without knowing what the outcome will be from the county commissioners,” board member Andrew Davidson said. “We are willing to accept the budgetary consequences of making that choice.”

The board is preparing to ask the Orange County Board of Commissioners for nearly $4.5 million dollars to increase their budget, $1.8 million going towards the raise in supplements.

Because the Board of Education approved the raise in their meeting Thursday, should the commissioners decide to reject the increase, the school system would still be responsible for paying the new salaries.

“It’s not something we take lightly,” board chairman James Barrett said. “But it’s also critically important for the recruitment period and just the time of the year we’re in given the budget cycle works, but we need teachers in August.”

The move comes after Wake County Schools raised its supplement to 16 percent last year.

Members of the board felt the school system would have problems competing for talent or retaining their teachers if they offered lower pay than Wake County.

“This is also the season where teachers who have been here with us for a couple of years will now have reassurance that their salary come August here will be at 16 percent supplement,” Barrett said.

The district will present its proposed budget to the commissioners April 26.


CHCCS Prepares To Ask County For Nearly $4.5 Million

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education is getting ready to ask Orange County for an additional $4.465 million to help with increases in teacher salaries.

Superintendent Tom Forcella said these increases were necessary to help recruiting new teachers and retaining current ones.

“As we are now in a process of recruitment and going to these fairs where the candidates are, it would really help if we could share with them that we have a commitment to increasing our local supplement,” he said.

Teacher’s salaries are determined two ways. First they are given a base salary set by the state, which the district expects to rise by five percent this year. That increase is estimated to total around $2.1 million.

Teachers also receive a supplement decided by individual districts. CHCCS is looking to increase its supplement for new teachers from 12 percent to 16 percent to keep up with an increase in Wake County last year. That increase is expected to total around $1.8 million.

Board chairman James Barrett said they need to be clear with the county as to why they need this funding.

“They need to know, here’s what the state is ‘doing’ to us,” he said. “Not because of cuts, because those may still come, but because of the salary increases from the state, that has an impact on what (Orange County) has to provide. And then there’s an additional impact from the match Wake effort.”

The board will meet again April 7 to approve the supplement increase.

Once approved, the district will have to pay for the increase, whether or not the county commissioners give the funding the district is asking for.

“The 4.4 million, almost all of it will be non-discretionary to us and so therefore anything less than that, we will have to make reductions in people to match whatever we don’t get out of that 4.4 million,” Barrett said.

But even if the commissioners give the district all the money they’re asking for, they could still be at the mercy of the state increases.

The district expects a five percent increase in salaries, but assistant superintendent Todd LoFrese said state could bump the increase to seven or eight percent.

“If that is what occurred we would need to come back to the board with a way to balance our budget,” he said. “Because that would put us, assuming we got our entire request from the county commissioners, that would put us all of the sudden $1 million behind.”

The district will present its proposed budget to the commissioners April 26.


5K For Education Is Saturday

This Saturday morning, hundreds of runners (and joggers and walkers) will take to the streets of Chapel Hill for the annual 5K For Education.

Organized every year by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public School Foundation, the 5K begins on East Franklin Street and winds around campus and nearby neighborhoods before circling back to McCorkle Place. The event begins at 9 am, with registration starting at 7:30 at McCorkle Place.

WCHL’s Aaron Keck (who’s MC’ing the event) spoke Thursday with Christine Cotton of the Public School Foundation.


Register for the 5K For Education here.


CHCCS Wins National Recycling Award

Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools has been named the national district winner of Keep America Beautiful’s Recycle-Bowl, according to the school system.

A release says Recycle-Bowl reaches nearly 700,000 students and teachers in 1,266 schools across 45 states and the District of Columbia.

Dan Schnitzer is the Sustainability Coordinator for CHCCS, and he says, “Winning this competition is a testament to the dedication of our teachers, administrators and students to care for their environment, reduce waste and ensure a healthy future.”

The competition was held over four weeks last fall culminating on November 15 – America Recycles Day.

Four million pounds of recyclables were recovered during the 2015 competition. Officials say that prevented the release of more than 5,700 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, and the reduction in greenhouse gases is equivalent to the annual emissions from more than 950 passenger cars.

While CHCCS won the District Division in the national competition, Egg Harbor Community School in New Jersey was crowned the national champion. Egg Harbor recycled 50 pounds of material per student and teacher during the competition.

Egg Harbor City Community School of Egg Harbor City, New Jersey, was crowned national champion of Recycle-Bowl, recycling 50 pounds of material per student and teacher during the competition.

Keep America Beautiful president and CEO Jennifer Jehn said in a statement:

“Recycle-Bowl provides teachers with a great opportunity to integrate concepts of sustainability and waste reduction into classroom curricula through experiential learning as well as a way to introduce recycling into a school’s general operations. CHCCS exemplifies the goals and mission of Recycle-Bowl. It’s inspiring to see students across the country becoming so enthusiastic about recycling and conserving our planet’s natural resources.”


CHCCS Considers Teacher Pay Increase

CHCCS superintendent Tom Forcella said next year’s budget has one thing in mind — teacher salaries.

“This budget this year has a focus addressing the salary issue problem,” Forcella said. “And very little else in terms of dollars for this year are included in any kind of enhancement of any other kind of programs.”

Teacher salaries are decided by the state, but school systems can offer supplements to that income from their own budgets.

Last year Wake County Schools significantly increased their budget after receiving 15 million dollars for teacher salaries from their county commissioners.

Forcella estimated that Wake County Schools pays teachers an average of two to three thousand dollars more per year and recommended the board increase supplements in next year’s budget.

“I hear principals tell us they have a hard time retaining teachers with Wake County paying a significantly higher supplement than we do,” said board member Andrew Davidson. “So I think it’s absolutely imperative that we get behind this salary increase in every way that we can.”

Forcella recommended the board increase supplements for new teachers from 12 percent to 16 percent as a way to stay competitive in recruiting and retaining teachers.

This expense would add an additional $1.85 million to next year’s budget.

The move would come at some risk because the board is scheduled to ask the county for the necessary funds in April, but there is no guarantee the county will approve.

“We understand that we would be doing this at some risk of cuts,” said board member James Barrett.

The school system will soon begin trying to recruit new teachers and retain others. Because the board is moving forward with this proposal, they will be offering jobs at this increased supplement before receiving county approval for increased funding.

Should the county deny the board’s request; Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools will be responsible for cutting $1.85 million next year from its budget to finance the increase in teacher pay.

“It’s something that we have to do,” he said. “And the timing is absolutely critical because of the recruitment cycle and the retention cycle that we’re right in the middle of. It’s the right thing to do to focus on salary.”

The board will submit their proposal for next year’s budget to the county on April 13 and present their proposal April 26.