CHCCS “Probably” Won’t Get All Of Requested Funding For Teacher Pay

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools will likely not get all of the $4.5 million they have asked for to increase teacher salaries in the district.

Both Chair of the Board of Orange County Commissioners Earl McKee and commissioner Mark Dorosin echoed these sentiments in a joint meeting Tuesday night.

“As commissioner Dorosin mentioned, full request probably not going to be accommodated,” McKee said. “But I know we’re going to make every effort to do everything we can, just as you all make every effort to do everything you can.”

While no decision has been officially made, comments made by the commissioners were not good news for the Board of Education, which has already committed to a total of $4.5 million to increase teacher pay.

No matter what the outcome of the budget, CHCCS is obligated to pay that money.

“The most important thing we can do is make sure we’ve got the highest quality teachers in every single classroom,” chair of the CHCCS Board of Education James Barrett said. “It’s what’s going to make a difference in the achievement gap and everything we do.”

The rush to raise the teacher supplement was due in part to Wake County raising their supplement last year.

Wake already had a higher supplement than CHCCS, but assistant superintendent Todd LoFrese said the gap in wages between the two counties would make it even harder for the district to keep and attract quality teachers.

“These are real dollars,” he said. “A teacher earning what we’re able to offer teachers this year ranges somewhere between $1,400 to $2,500 less than what Wake County currently offers teachers.”

While commissioners said they were sympathetic and wanted to commit to raising teacher pay, McKee said there were concerns about raising taxes.

“In the back of my mind I have to play out the possibility of a four to five cent tax increase this year, with the sure and certain knowledge that a bond in November and borrowing part of that funding will drive another three to five cents.”

McKee said the increase would be over a longer period of time, but it also doesn’t factor any other increase in the county funding.

“I know you hear from people that say ‘raise my taxes because I want my kids to have the best education,'” commissioner Renee Price said. “But I’m also hearing people say ‘this is hurting me, I can’t do it and if you raise taxes more I’m going to leave the county.”

If CHCCS doesn’t get the amount they’re looking for, they will have to make up the difference in budget cuts.

Barrett said the board will not comment publicly about specific cuts at this time because he said he doesn’t want to alarm any employees.

http://chapelboro.com/featured/chccs-probably-wont-get-all-of-requested-funding-for-teacher-pay

County Commissioners Call For Legal Action Against HB2

Having already passed a resolution standing with the city of Charlotte and affirming their commitment to equality, the Orange County Board of Commissioners passed a second resolution against the bill in their meeting Tuesday night.

“I think it’s proper that we move past that and ask, as our brother and sister governments have done, that this bill be repealed,” said chair of the board Earl McKee.

This marks another local government that has called for the repeal of House Bill 2. Carrboro was first to take such action.

Commissioners were ready to go another step and authorize the county to join in litigation against the bill, but county attorney John Roberts encouraged them to wait because of potential political ramifications.

“Currently we need a local bill fairly desperately and I’ve been informed today by Senator (Valerie) Foushee that it’s not likely she’s going to get that local bill without a committee chair’s assistance,” Roberts said. “That committee chair supports House Bill 2.”

Roberts said if the board passed a resolution calling for legal action against HB2, Foushee could lose the support of the committee chair.

Roberts also said he had another reason to wait, but needed to discuss it with the commissioners in the privacy of a closed session meeting.

“Once again we find ourselves at the mercy of a radical, right-wing legislature that is threatening to hold up needed local legislation on a completely unrelated matter as punishment,” commissioner Mark Dorosin said.

Dorosin moved to keep the wording that would authorize the county to join in legal proceedings, something commissioner Bernadette Pelissier objected to.

“I understand my colleagues concerns that we’re being punished,” she said. “I want to have a discussion in closed session before I vote on it. I don’t want to jeopardize things that are very important to this county.”

The resolution passed 6-1, with Pelissier being the lone dissenting voice.

http://chapelboro.com/featured/county-commissioners-pass-second-hb2-resolution

Commissioners Reject Proposal To Hire Contractor For Bond

Orange County could be issuing a bond worth up to $120 million to go to both Orange County Schools and Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools after the elections in November.

Because this would only pay for a fraction of the estimated $330 million the systems have said they need to make necessary repairs and upgrades, commissioner Barry Jacobs said he wanted to hire an independent contractor to make recommendations on how the money should be spent.

“Since we’re the ones who are going to be approving the $120 million, I thought it was an important thing for us to feel comfortable with what was recommended,” he said. “That it met certain criteria that we all generally agree are important.”

The proposal was unanimously rejected in their meeting Tuesday night , with Jacobs himself voting against it.

The contractor was estimated to cost between $38,000 and $43,000. Chairs of both boards of education addressed the commissioners and stated their opposition.

Orange County chairwoman Donna Coffey said three years ago her board spent over $250,000 to study the issue.

“Our board has spend countless hours diligently reviewing and analyzing the results of these studies, knowing a future bond referendum would only offer us a limited amount of money,” Coffey said. “We wanted to ensure that our students, our teachers, our families and Orange County taxpayers got the most juice for our squeeze.”

After doing these studies, both boards of education shared their recommendations with the county.

Commissioner Mia Burroughs, who is a former member of the CHCCS board of education, said she saw no reason to hire the contractor.

“School boards are duly elected by the exact same people who elect us,” Burroughs said. “I think it would be duplicative and not necessary in any way to open that back up and question the priorities that they’ve made and started to invest in.”

Before the county is allowed to issue the bond, they will first have to get the public to approve it when it appears on the ballot in November.

“Just from a practical point of view I don’t see it working to have a consultant,” said commissioner Bernadette Pelissier. “The work wouldn’t be done until the end of June, then we’re on break, which means we couldn’t even discuss anything until September and then you’re supposed to have a campaign going.”

The board will hold public hearings on the bond April 19 and May 5.

http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/commissioners-reject-proposal-to-hire-contractor-for-bond

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.

http://chapelboro.com/featured/chccs-prepares-to-ask-county-for-nearly-4-5-million

Incumbents Win Big In County Commissioner Race

The primary race for the four seats on the Orange County Board of Commissioners has been decided.

Penny Rich, Renee Price, Mark Dorosin and Mark Marcoplos  will be the nominees for the Democratic party in the election held November 8, 2016.

Marcoplos won 46.71 percent of the vote for the at-large position, with Matt Hughes coming in second place with 40.84 percent.

Andy Cagle came in third place with 12.45 percent of the vote.

Mark Marcoplos

The winner of the at-large race will take over for Bernadette Pelissier, who announced last year she would not be seeking re-election.

Rich and Dorosin won the race for district one with 37.57 and 29.98 percent of the vote respectively.

Penny Rich

Jamezetta Bedford came in a close third place, receiving 28.88 percent and Gary Kahn came in fourth place with 3.56 percent. Dorosin and Bedford were separated by just 376 votes.

Dorosin and Rich were the incumbents. Both were elected in 2012.

In district two, Renee Price will be the nominee after beating out Bonnie Hauser and receiving 60.68 percent.

Price was the incumbent and was elected in 2012.

Renee Price

 

http://chapelboro.com/featured/incumbents-win-big-in-county-commissioner-race

2016 Election: BOCC At-Large Candidates Talk Issues

Early voting is underway now for the 2016 primary election, with a number of key races on the ballot. There’s the presidential race, the Senate race, and the “Connect NC” bond proposal – and at the local level, there are also four open seats on the Orange County Board of Commissioners, with nine candidates in the running. (All nine candidates are Democrats, so the BOCC races will be decided in the primary: whoever wins the Democratic nomination will be running unopposed in November.)

Find your Orange County early voting sites here.

Three of those nine candidates – Mark Marcoplos, Matt Hughes, and Andy Cagle – are competing for the at-large seat being vacated by outgoing Commissioner Bernadette Pelissier. Which candidate should get your vote? What do the candidates have to say about the future of Orange County?

On Monday, WCHL’s Aaron Keck welcomed Marcoplos, Hughes and Cagle to the studio for an informal, hour-long conversation about Orange County’s biggest issues.

Listen to the forum.

 

Last week, WCHL also hosted informal forums for the four candidates running for two seats representing District 1 and the two candidates running for a seat representing District 2.

Listen to the District 1 forum here.

Listen to the District 2 forum here.

Early voting runs through Saturday, March 12; primary day is Tuesday, March 15.

http://chapelboro.com/featured/2016-election-bocc-at-large-candidates-talk-issues

2016 Election: Price, Hauser Vie For BOCC District 2

Early voting is underway now for the 2016 primary election, with a number of key races on the ballot. There’s the presidential race, the Senate race, and the “Connect NC” bond proposal – and at the local level, there are also four open seats on the Orange County Board of Commissioners, with nine candidates in the running. (All nine candidates are Democrats, so the BOCC races will be decided in the primary: whoever wins the Democratic nomination will be running unopposed in November.)

Find your Orange County early voting sites here.

Two of those nine candidates are competing for a seat representing Orange County’s District 2, covering Hillsborough and unincorporated Orange County. Incumbent Renee Price is seeking her second term on the board; challenging her is Bonnie Hauser.

Which candidate should get your vote? What do the candidates have to say about the future of Orange County?

On Friday, WCHL’s Aaron Keck welcomed Price and Hauser to the studio for an informal, hour-long conversation about Orange County’s biggest issues. Part 1 of their forum focused on education and economic development; Part 2 focused on housing, transportation, firearm safety and solid waste.

Listen to Part 1.

 

Listen to Part 2.

 

Tune into WCHL on Monday at 3 pm, as Aaron hosts the three candidates vying for an at-large seat on the Board: Mark Marcoplos, Matt Hughes, and Andy Cagle.

Earlier this week, Aaron hosted the four candidates running for two open seats representing District 1: Mark Dorosin, Penny Rich, Jamezetta Bedford, and Gary Kahn. Listen to that forum here.

Early voting runs through Saturday, March 12; primary day is Tuesday, March 15.

http://chapelboro.com/featured/2016-election-price-hauser-vie

Orange County Commissioners Adopt Fireworks Permitting Ordinance

A fireworks display following a wedding at an Orange County venue several months ago has now prompted action from County Commissioners.

“The extremely loud noises shocked us and, literally, shook our homes. They frightened children, adults, pets and the elderly. Horses raced frantically. Goats escaped. And chickens were traumatized. One of my hens died from shock. All hens in the area stopped laying.”

That’s how Collins Creek resident Virginia Leslie described the night last fall when a pyrotechnics display prompted numerous emergency calls due to heavy smoke and fears that dry leaves and grass would catch fire.

The fireworks were shot off from the Barn at Valhalla, a wedding venue off of NC 54 near Orange Grove Road.

Local regulation of fireworks is a difficult issue, according to county attorney John Roberts, because the guidelines are managed by the state.

“Orange County does not allow or disallow this,” Roberts said at the board’s meeting on Tuesday. “The state regulates fireworks displays, and, for the most part, the only regulation that the state allows counties to have is this permitting process.”

Roberts said the display last fall was legally operated, but that the state does allow each county to issue permits that have specific parameters. And an ordinance was put before the board that will require those seeking a permit to notify neighbors within 1,000 feet of the display prior to the event, that postings be put up to notify neighbors and that the party seeking the permit would acquire insurance of at least $500,000.

Orange County fire marshal Jason Shepherd said the incident last fall was “isolated” and involved a group with the funding to put on a large display and weather factors that increased the noise produced from the event.

Commissioner Mark Dorosin said that the new ordinance would solve some of the issues brought forth by neighbors, while reiterating that the county could not ban fireworks all together.

“The goal of this is to try to at least get the notice requirements and the insurance requirements and some of the other limited regulatory oversight that we have,” Dorosin said, “in addition to what the fire marshal already has.”

The ordinance passed by a 6-1 margin with Commissioner Renee Price dissenting because she said she wanted to allow time for more public input.

http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/orange-county-commissioners-adopt-fireworks-permitting-ordinance

2016 Election: BOCC District 1 Candidates Square Off

Early voting begins Thursday for the 2016 primary election, with a number of key races on the ballot. There’s the presidential race, the Senate race, and the “Connect NC” bond proposal – and at the local level, there are also four open seats on the Orange County Board of Commissioners, with nine candidates in the running. (All nine candidates are Democrats, so the BOCC races will be decided in the primary: whoever wins the Democratic nomination will be running unopposed in November.)

Four of those nine candidates are competing for two seats representing Orange County’s District 1, covering Chapel Hill and Carrboro: incumbents Penny Rich and Mark Dorosin and challengers Jamezetta Bedford and Gary Kahn.

Which BOCC candidates should get your vote? What do the candidates have to say about the future of Orange County?

On Wednesday, WCHL’s Aaron Keck welcomed Rich, Dorosin, Kahn and Bedford to the studio for an informal, hour-long conversation about Orange County’s biggest issues. Part 1 of their forum focused on education and economic development; Part 2 focused on housing, social justice, and social services.

Listen to Part 1.

 

Listen to Part 2.

 

Tune into WCHL on Friday at 6 pm as Aaron hosts incumbent Renee Price and challenger Bonnie Hauser, the two candidates running to represent District 2 (northern Orange County). Next Monday at 3 pm, Aaron will host the three candidates vying for an at-large seat on the Board: Mark Marcoplos, Matt Hughes, and Andy Cagle.

Early voting runs through Saturday, March 12; primary day is Tuesday, March 15.

Visit this page for early voting locations in Orange County.

http://chapelboro.com/news/election/election-2016-bocc-district-1-candidates-square-off

Board Of Commissioners Create Firearms Safety Committee

After unanimously striking down a proposed gun regulation in February, the Orange County Board of Commissioners created a Firearms Safety Committee to discuss the possibility of future regulations.

Commissioner Barry Jacobs said in their meeting Tuesday night, the creation of the committee does not necessarily mean that any new regulations will be passed.

“We hear enough about those kinds of issues that we just want to have a conversation in a controlled and not necessarily super-charged atmosphere,” he said.

Jacobs said it would give residents the ability to talk through issues such as safety, noise and second amendment rights with people that know the law and the current regulations.

“And see if there are accommodations that can be made that everyone can live with,” he said. “Maybe we can’t, maybe we can, but that’s the purpose.”

The committee will be comprised of eight Orange County residents, who will have voting powers within the committee.

It will also have representatives from the sheriff’s office, the county manager and NC Wildlife Resources. Along with a member of the board, they will be there in an advisory capacity.

“I think we want to ensure that the public doesn’t feel that it’s the commissioners who are running the show here,” commissioner Bernadette Pelissier.

Jacobs said the commissioner, who has yet to be chosen, will be there to give guidance to the committee.

“They could give some response to tell people the commissioners don’t want to go in that direction or the commissioners have heard enough complaints about X that they want to make sure it’s adequately addressed by this group,” he said. “They don’t have to say ‘and therefore you should do this,’ but they could at least give some guidance.”

The board also gave permission for the county to hire a facilitator for the committee, to help mediate heated discussions.

According to an abstract given to the board, the county clerk has contacted Andy Sachs about this position. Sachs is the public dispute coordinator at the Dispute Settlement Center.

The county clerk will advertise to residents when the application window for the committee op

http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/board-of-commissioners-create-firearms-safety-committee