Orange County Board of Education Approves New Principal

The Orange County Board of Education voted to approve Ashley Hamlett as the Interim Principal of Hillsborough Elementary for the 2016-2017 school year.

Installing Hamlett as the Interim Principal will provide the continued level of success that parents, students, and staff have come to expect, the board said in a release.

Hamlett served as the assistant principal at Hillsborough Elementary before she was promoted to the Interim Principal.

She is a graduate of the Orange County School district and it is also where she began her teaching career.

The Orange County School district invites parents to attend the meet the teacher’s night on July 15 to welcome and meet Hamlett.

CHCCS Officials Hope To Skip Saturday School Next Year

A new school year will be upon us before you know it, and everyone involved is hoping for a more gentle winter this time around – if only to avoid any controversy about makeup days.

Virtually two weeks of instructional time were interrupted for students of Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools in the last year due to bad weather.

Assistant Superintendent Todd LoFrese said that a state calendar law that prohibits adding makeup days any later than the Friday closest to June 11 has made scheduling unnecessarily difficult.

LoFrese said that CHCCS will try its best in the next school year to avoid stoking controversy by adding Saturdays, and Memorial Day, as makeup days.

“We brought recommendations for calendar revisions back to the school board,” said LoFrese, “and the board approved those revisions for this calendar as well as next year’s calendar, to make some changes to try to give us a little more buffer – more options in the spring, when we may need those days the most.”

Many dates on the schools calendar have been added from March through June as possible make-up days, and those have been arranged in order of priority.

The days that are likely to be the most controversial, he added, have been put near the bottom on the list of options.

“Knock on wood, hoping that we don’t have something like we’ve had in the past, we’re pretty confident that even if we do have a rough winter, that many of the challenges we faced this year, we’ve put steps in place to avoid having those next year.”

LoFrese said that school board members will continue to discuss options such as increasing time in the instructional day.

And school system administrators will continue talking to lawmakers in Raleigh.

“We’re going to continue to advocate with our local legislators, and advocate at the state level for more flexibility with the calendar law,” said LoFrese.

Supply Store Benefits CHCCS Teachers

School’s almost back in session, and teachers are getting ready – which, in many cases, means paying out of pocket for essential school supplies.

Many teachers – here and nationwide – say they spend hundreds of dollars of their own money each year for supplies, without which their classes couldn’t run.

But this week, some teachers in the CHCCS district will get a bit of a break – thanks to the East Chapel Hill Rotary Club, which has operated a “Teacher Supply Store” every year since 2008. This year, 440 teachers will receive a $75 voucher to shop in the store – open for two days this Wednesday and Thursday – for supplies ranging from pens and pencils to facial tissues.

Daniel Corley of the East Chapel Hill Rotary Club spoke to WCHL’s Aaron Keck on the Tuesday afternoon news.

The Teacher Supply Store is open Wednesday from 2-6 pm and Thursday from 2-5 pm at the American Legion Hut in Chapel Hill. CHCCS superintendent Tom Forcella will attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday at 2:00.

Common Core Elimination Bill Moves Forward

The Common Core curriculum standards that dictate what’s taught in grade school classrooms across the state are on their way out.

Gov. Pat McCrory signaled that he would sign a compromise bill that the House passed Wednesday and Senate signed off on it last week. The House approved the bill, 71-34, to rewrite the statewide curriculum to better tailor it for North Carolina students.

“I will sign this bill because it does not change any of North Carolina’s education standards,” McCrory said in a written statement. “It does initiate a much-needed, comprehensive and thorough review of standards. No standards will change without the approval of the State Board of Education.”

Both chambers had competing bills on how to change the state’s curriculum, but came to a compromise that allowed the state to potentially use some materials from the Common Core program that are effective.

The bill “melds the two versions quite well,” said Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union. “We are not taking anything off the table from the standpoint of being able to access the best ideas in the country to ensure that we have high academic standards.”

The bill directs the State Board of Education to rewrite the Common Core standards for the state’s K-12 standards. A new standards advisory commission would be formed to make curriculum recommendations to the board. The bill does not bar the commission or State Board from integrating current Common Core standards with the new ones. The commission would be made up of 11 members, some appointed by legislative leaders, one by the governor and others by the State Board of Education.

Common Core, which schools began testing two years ago, would remain in place until the new standards are completed.

The curriculum standards were developed by the nation’s governors and school chiefs and have been approved by more than 40 states. But North Carolina and a handful of other states are responding to complaints from teachers, parents and conservative advocates that the standards are causing confusion and leading to the use of curriculum that is age-inappropriate.

The state Chamber of Commerce said Wednesday they support the curriculum rewrite and that it brings predictability and certainty to education in the state.

“This is a significant step toward a reasonable approach to make standards higher and our top priority is pushing for the absolute best academic standards for the state,” said Lew Ebert, president and CEO of the North Carolina Chamber, in a statement.

Educators and families on both sides of the aisle have been complaining about Common Core and ask that it be replaced, said Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven.

“The bottom line is it’s a terrible system. There may be some good things about it and though this bill will allow them to sue those things if they need to,” he said. “It’s not something we should have ever accepted.”

Rep. Tricia Cotham, D-Mecklenburg, said repealing the rules is a solution in search of a problem, sends a bad signal and puts an unfair burden on schools, teachers and parents, who already invested and trained with Common Core.

“Why are we really doing this?” she said. “Is this really to better education or is this more political in nature? I worry that this is more political.”

Chapel Hill-Carrboro Teaching Chair Awards

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public School Foundation has announced this year’s winners of the 2014 Teaching Chair Awards. These awards represent the Public School Foundation’s way of acknowledging the impact these educators have had on the community and the students they teach. The teachers were selected to be awarded by a committee of parents, students, administrators, teachers, and Foundation Board members and selected the top candidate for each one.

Ashley Lang of East Chapel Hill High received the Bernadine Sullivan Chair for Excellence in Teaching High School English or Social Studies.

Ashley Laver of Rashkis Elementary School earned the Sockwell Chair for Excellence in Teaching Primary Grades (PreK-2).

Katherine Pardue of Phillips Middle School won the Burton Stuart Chair for Promising New Teachers in Math or Science.

Danae Shipp of McDougle Middle School was awarded the GlaxoSmithKline Chair for Excellence in Teaching Middle School Science or Math.

Jack Watson of Chapel Hill High was presented with PTA Chair for Excellence in Teaching Cultural Arts.

Candace White of Glenwood Elementary School achieved the Neil Pedersen Teachers First Chair for Excellence in Classroom Technology.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public School Foundation offers its congratulations to these teachers for their outstanding contributions to the educational experiences students of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.

Education Town Hall: Salary

Four North Carolina legislators will hear the financial concerns of educators and members of the community Monday night at Culbreth Middle School.

Senator Valerie Foushee, Representative Verla Insko, Representative Graig Meyer, and Representative Jon Hardister will be in attendance.

Assistant Professor of Law at UNC, Deborah Gerhardt, and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools PTA Council President, Jeff Hall, spoke with Ron Stutts on the WCHL Monday Morning News about the town hall meeting.

***Listen to the Interview***

Schools Closings and Power Outages

Due to hazardous travel conditions (downed trees and power lines) and wide spread power outages that remain, two school districts remain closed Monday:

Orange County Schools (optional teacher work day)

Alamance Burlington Schools


Duke Energy and Piedmont Electric continue to work to restore power to the area. To see the outage make for Duke Energy, click here; for Piedmont Electric, click here.

Gov. McCrory Announces Raise For Incoming Teachers

JAMESTOWN, NC – Governor Pat McCrory and other state leaders announced a plan Monday morning to increase starting teachers’ salaries nearly 14 percent in the next two years, but no immediate increase was mentioned for teaching professionals already in place.

This year, starting teacher pay will increase $2,200 to $33,000; next year an additional $2,000 will be added taking salaries to $35,000.

Supplemental pay for teachers who completed their coursework for their Master’s degrees has been extended up until July 1, 2013 as well.

However, there was no discussion of raising teachers’ salaries for those who are just getting their start.

The announcement to raise incoming teachers’ salaries $4,200 in the next two years was made at Gov. McCrory’s former high school, Ragsdale, with Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, Senate Leader Phil Berger, and House Speaker Thom Tillis in attendance.

PACE Academy Renewal Denied By State Board Of Ed.

RALEIGH – The charter for PACE Academy in Carrboro was denied renewal Thursday in a unanimous vote by the North Carolina State Board of Education.

“The charter would expire June 30, 2014, so they would be able to complete this school year but not be open for next school year,” says Joel Medley, director of the Office of Charter Schools.

PACE Academy opened in 2004 to serve high school students with learning disabilities or behavioral problems who have not succeeded at traditional schools. More than half of the 169 enrolled have been identified as special needs students.

In December, the state’s Charter School Advisory Board recommended to the North Carolina Board of Education that PACE not have its charter renewed. The CSAB report cited testing noncompliance, fiscal irregularities and low academic performance.

Medley says there was some discussion before the unanimous vote was made.

“Primarily the reason is that the board—which was granted the charter by the state board of education—did not offer effective oversite of the school,” Medley says.

Medley says a formal letter was sent to the school shortly after the decision was made. In that it explains that the school still has a chance to fight the ruling.

“The school does have the opportunity to appeal to the office of administrative hearings, and they’ll be notified of that today,” Medley says.

School Delays – Friday, January 24

Chatham County Schools – students on a two-hour delay (due to low temperatures)