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BoE Hopefuls On CHCCS Disciplinary Inconsistency

CHAPEL HILL – Inconsistency in disciplinary policies has been an problem for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools System. Community members have called on the district to change discipline and suspension procedures, which they said unfairly target African-American and Latino students.

According to data collected by school officials, African-American and Latino students each make up about 12 percent of the student body but account for a majority of in-school suspensions.

It’s an issue that all CHCCS Board of Education hopefuls agreed needs to be addressed during WCHL’s Candidate Forum on Monday .

The four candidates competing for three open spots on the Board are incumbents Michelle Brownstein and James Barrett, and the challengers are Ignacio Tzoumas and Andrew Davidson.

**Hear WCHL’s full CHCCS Board Candidate Forum below**

 

Brownstein, who was elected in 2009 and currently serves as Chair of the Board, said steps have already been taken to improve training for the school resource officers on handling incidents with students.

“That already is changing. They are already being folded-in in terms of professional development for them to get that information and to work more alongside with our teachers,” Brownstein said. “The issue is complex. It is one of the main focuses of our long-range plan, and it is something that will be addressed this year.”

Barrett, who was elected to the Board in 2011, said he agreed with Brownstein and added that teacher training could also be improved.

“We’ve begun that conversation, and that conversation is not deeds, and we need to move on to deeds,” Barrett said. “I am proud that we’ve started that conversation. I think we need to look at things that are classroom management issues. One of the top reasons for suspensions is disrespect.”

Tzoumas said if he were elected to the Board, he would focus on reaching out to the minority communities to discuss policies and how to ensure equality for all students.

“This is always going to be a problem; it always has been a problem for most counties that are growing rapidly when you are getting new influx of population and you need to bring in community members,” Tzoumas said. “It has to be a one-on-one kind of thing to get over these types of issues.”

Davidson said that teachers and staff members should avoid using language in the classroom that labels the child as a “troublemaker.”

“It’s a professional development issue largely, I think the better trained our teachers and staff are in how to handle kids and how to identify issues at home and mental health issues, I think that is going to go a long way,” Davidson said.

Early voting for the Nov. 5 municipal and Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board elections is underway now.

http://chapelboro.com/2013-election-central/2013-election-candidate-forums/boe-hopefuls-chccs-disciplinary-discrepancy/

BoE Candidates On Closing The Achievement In CHCCS

CHAPEL HILL – The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools System is one of the top-achieving districts in North Carolina, yet closing the achievement gap is a urgent issue that has proven hard to solve.

The four candidates competing for three open spots on the CHCCS Board of Education spoke to this problem during WCHL’s Candidate Forum Monday.

Michelle Brownstein and James Barrett are the two incumbent candidates in the race, and the challengers are Ignacio Tzoumas and Andrew Davidson.

**Hear WCHL’s full CHCCS Board Candidate Forum below**

 

Brownstein, who was elected in 2009 and currently serves as Chair of the Board, said she believes that illiteracy is the one of the main factors contributing to the achievement gap.

“Interventions that we are providing for students also have to be evidence-based and be consistent. We have to look at our instructional time and how we are using those minutes,” Brownstein said. “There are children that need catch-up growth, and those children are the ones who are a part of this achievement gap. We have to follow them vertically as they go through the curriculum K-12.”

Barrett, who was elected to the Board in 2011, said the District needs to focus on improving the quality of instruction.

“We have pockets of really good instruction going on, but I think Dr. Forcella is clearly focused that every teacher, every classroom, has great instruction every day,” Barrett said. “And then the other thing that she [Michelle Brownstein] touched on is growth. Every student should be growing a year, and those that are behind should be growing a year.”

Tzoumas said if he were elected to the Board, he would work toward implementing sound policies as soon as possible.

“I think we’ve gotten to the point where it is rhetoric versus reality,” Tzoumas said. “We want to close that gap and start executing on the ideas as opposed to constantly bringing up the problem that is at hand.”

Davidson said one of the biggest challenges that disadvantaged students face is the “summer gap” in their education.

“Wealthier students show better academic progress during the summer than poorer students do, and that is one of the ways that the district has fallen short,” Davidson said. “And through no fault of their own, I think it is an innovation that we have to take on to focus on summer learning. We need to make that change so that when they get to the third grade, they make the change from learning to read to reading to learn.”

Early voting for the Nov. 5 municipal and Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board elections is underway now.

http://chapelboro.com/2013-election-central/2013-election-candidate-forums/boe-on-closing-the-achievement-in-chccs/

CHCCS School Board Hopefuls On Looming Budget Problems

CHAPEL HILL – The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools System is projected to face a $2.2 million dollar deficit for the next cycle. The district has been facing funding issues for the past several years, in part due to constant budget cuts coming from the General Assembly.

The four candidates competing for three open spots on the CHCCS Board of Education spoke to WCHL’s Aaron Keck Monday about how they propose to overcome budget constraints if elected.

***Listen to the Forum***

Michelle Brownstein and James Barrett are the two incumbent candidates in the race, and the challengers are Ignacio Tzoumas and Andrew Davidson.

Brownstein, who was elected in 2009 and currently serves as Chair of the Board, said the district has already had to dip into the fund balance to keep elementary school teaching assistants in the classroom. She said the Board may not be able to deplete it any further to help offset the cost of state-level budget cuts.

“We are going to be going through each one of the roles that different people play to look for effective use of staff,” Brownstein said. “This of course will be done by our Superintendent, but he will be presenting it to the Board in the spring. He’s also going to be looking at the programmatics that we have going on, making sure that they are effective and that they are completely aligned with the long-range plan that the community has asked for. This is going to be really tough.”

Barrett, who was elected to the Board in 2011, said the district needs to continue to seek efficiency in staff operations.

“I think that one of the things I’ve watched on the Board is Dr. Forcella doing a very, very good job at looking at each individual that is working in our district, what they are doing, and how they line up with our priorities, and re-purposing where needed, so that we are not spending more money, but we are getting more bang for the buck for the people we have,” Barrett said.

Tzoumas said if he were elected to the Board, he would work to find new avenues of trimming the budget to be able to continue to serve a growing student population.

“We are very fortunate that this county values education so highly, and they have been subsidizing our school system, but we are already four to five times higher than the average in the state,” Tzoumas said. “And it is a strain. We are at a point that we need to be more creative with how we budget so we can make a fair infrastructure for all of our students.”

Davidson said he believed one of the answers to closing the budget gaps would be raising property taxes. Orange County’s property taxes weren’t increased for the 2013-2014 budget cycle, though the special district tax was.

“It’s two choices: do we want to see cuts or do we want to pay out a higher property tax rate,” Davidson said. “If I am given that vote as a voter, I’ll take the higher property tax every time.”

Davidson also suggested finding innovative ways to “stretch the dollar” on construction plans for the district’s fifth middle school. He suggested assessing which Middle School would be most appropriate to demolish and then rebuild it, adding another school on the site as well.

http://chapelboro.com/news/election/chccs-school-board-hopefuls-on-looming-budget-problems/