Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Stakes Are Too High

As a member of a local Board of Education, I find it horribly unfortunate that the whole story about Senate Bill 8 is not making it into the headlines. The Bill is about so much more than raising the present 100 school cap - as written, the Bill would have an extremely negative impact on traditional public schools. While I am not an opponent of educational choices, I do believe those choices should not be allowed at the expense of our traditional public schools and all of North Carolina's children.

Not only would Senate Bill 8 exclude many of our children from having an opportunity to attend a charter school, in my opinion, it also would be an additional financial burden and unfunded State mandate for already financially strapped local traditional public schools by entitling charter schools to monies received and/or earned by local traditional public schools. In addition to a local district's current expense monies provided by your tax dollars through County Commissioners (which charters currently have access to), it would allow them to get their hands in the coffers and take a local district's facility rental fees, fund balance, privately paid tuition for summer camps, etc., investment earnings, local district supplemental taxes (for example, Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools) and the list goes on and on. In short, this means local traditional public schools would have less money than they have now, but none of the mandates and expectations would be lessened.

I just finished watching the House Democrats Press Conference on Senate Bill 8. Ladies and Gentlemen, if you do not believe that Senate Bill 8 would be an "outrageous assault" on the traditional public school system and has the potential to fundamentally change public schools as we know them, then you should spend a few minutes and watch this video. Remember ALL of OUR children need services - Forget the and listen

March 3, 2011 House Democrats Press Conference

Saturday, February 5, 2011

"Public" Schools

In 1996, the NC General Assembly enacted legislation authorizing charter schools - 100 of them to be exact - to operate in the state. Charter schools are public schools of choice constituted as non-profit corporations. Charters are considered public schools, because they are free (no tuition), open to the public, and receive State and county (current expense) funding. However, they are also quite different than traditional public schools, because they are exempt from many federal and state laws and regulations that govern public school operations, and they are allotted funds in a different manner.
It is no secret that eliminating the charter school cap was one of the top priorities of the 2011 General Assembly - it was further evidenced when one of first items of business for our lawmakers was introduction of Senate Bill 8 - Charter Schools Act of 2011.
With that said, in November at the annual meeting of the North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA), members of the Association agreed not to oppose a change in the charter school cap if six requirements were put into place. Of the six, four requirements that stand out to me are:
  • Accept children with special needs and provide appropriate services - Open enrollment is a fundamental principle of traditional public education, and charter schools should abide by this spirit and guarantee to accept children with special needs and provide appropriate services to them. According to information compiled by the NCSBA, special education students are significantly under-served by charter schools. As the cost of special education has grown and educational accountability requirements have increased, the practice of passing over special needs students or referring them back to the traditional schools is a common practice.
  • Provide food services and transportation for students - Many families are unable to transport their students to school or pay for their lunch. Right now, charters are not required to provide transportation or food services. In order for all children to have the same opportunity to attend a charter school, the NCSBA believes that charters should be required to offer transportation and a free/reduced lunch program.
  • All charter school teachers be properly licensed as in traditional public schools - Charter schools are only required to employ a certain percentage of licensed teachers, creating a situation where some students are denied the benefit of receiving instruction from a properly licensed teacher.
  • Local school districts be allowed to create charter schools under the control and direction of the local board - Charter schools are allowed to run their schools free of the myriad of state regulations that govern traditional public schools. Traditional public schools, who are not afforded the same exemptions as charter schools, would make even more improvements if they were on equal playing fields.

As it stands now, Senate Bill 8, fails to address any of the concerns raised by NCSBA. As a matter of fact, the proposed Bill goes in the opposite direction and allows for even more flexibility for charters - it calls for creation of a new independent commission to oversee charters (taking it out of the Department of Public Instruction),exempts charters from reflecting the racial and socio-economic makeup of the counties in which they are located, and provides avenues for charters to stake claim to local and lottery monies currently funding traditional public schools (thereby creating an even larger revenue shortfall for local school districts in future years).

In my opinion, the proposed Bill would be detrimental to the public education system in North Carolina.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Soaring Beyond Expectation....

Do You Know A Ninth Grade Orange High School Student....who would benefit from after-school academic tutoring and mentoring, homework assistance, hands-on learning opportunities, special field trips, and music, art, sports, and cultural activities?

If So, Did You Know...about the 21st Century Community Learning Center located on the campus of Orange High School?

More about the 21st Century Community Learning Center

  • Safe and structured program will incorporate "best practices" to help students build confidence, develop decision making skills, foster academic success, promote positive interaction with family and friends
  • Recreational activities will include swimming classes, dance, Karate, nature hikes, and tennis
  • Marketing coaches will help as students develop their own product line
  • Hands-on opportunities for healthy and creative meal planning and serving ideas
  • Special field trips, drama productions and competitive games
  • 100 ninth grade students will be selected for the program via an application process
  • Collaborative partnership with Orange Cross Road Missionary Baptist Church, Orange County Schools, Orange County SportsPlex and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
For more information contact OHS Principal Armond Hankins at (919) 732-6133, extension 20001 or email him at

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Invitation to Presidents and Treasurers of Orange County Schools Parent Organizations

Presidents and Treasurers of Orange County Schools (OCS) Parent Organizations are invited to attend an informational meeting hosted by the OCS Finance Department. This meeting allows you to provide feedback on proposed changes to the School Board's Parent Organization Policy #5010 (

When: September 30, 2010
Time: 7 p.m. until 8 p.m.
Where: A.L. Stanback Library/Media Center

Your input is important to the Board of Education as we make policy decisions for the future.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Today is Constitution Day

On September 17, 1787, the US Constitution was signed by thirty-nine brave men who changed the course of history. Let us continue their legacy and develop habits of citizenship in a new generation of Americans.

Celebrate Your Right to Vote

Did you know...In North Carolina if you are 16 or 17 years old, you are eligible to pre-register to vote?

Let's start our Young Americans out on the right foot....

During tonight's bit cross-town rivalry, the Orange High School vs. Cedar Ridge High School football game, the Orange County Board of Elections will be on-site to pre-register 16 and 17 year olds. Come take advantage of this opportunity!

Game time - 7:30
Game location - Orange High School

This event is sponsored by Orange County Schools and the Orange County Board of Elections.