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Chatham County students go back to school on August 25

Posted Sunday, August 1, 2010

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Pittsboro, NC - Chatham county students go back to school on Wednesday, August 25.

A Look Back at the 2009-2010 School Year:

Chatham County Schools had a banner school year on many fronts – in academics, in athletics, in extracurricular activities, and in other aspects of school life.

Preliminary state testing results are encouraging and show solid student academic growth. The State Board of Education will release final testing results on August 5. Students in grades three through eight take state mandated end-of-grade tests while high school students are tested through end-of-course exams in ten core academic subject areas.

Chatham County Schools offers athletic teams for students in seventh through twelfth grade. Middle and high school teams were successful throughout the three sports seasons, fall, winter and spring. Several high school teams around the county advanced deep into the state playoffs.

Over the summer, staff in several schools in the district, including Siler City Elementary, Virginia Cross Elementary, Chatham Middle School, and Bonlee School, are reaching out to students in an effort to encourage them to continue reading. Research shows that students who are not read to or who do not read during long school breaks tend to fall behind in reading. Some schools are opening their library media centers at designated times during the week and going to homes and neighborhoods to deliver books to students.

A Look Ahead at the 2010-2011 School Year:

School meal prices in Chatham County Schools will not increase in the 2010-2011 school year. The regular paid breakfast cost will be $1.00 while the reduced breakfast cost will be .30. The regular paid lunch cost will be $2.00 while the reduced lunch cost will be .40. All adult meal prices will be a la carte. Note: In order to receive a reduced price or free meal, students must qualify under federal guidelines. Forms will be available at schools as the school year begins. Meal status from the previous school year will hold through the first thirty days of the school year or until a new application is processed.

In addition to academic and athletic programs, each school has other activities in which students can choose to be involved. Particularly in middle and high school, students can be active in clubs and special programs. Individual students and teams can frequently participate in leadership and competitive events at the local, state, and sometimes even national level.

The majority of schools in the district have the Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) program. PBIS is a school-wide approach to discipline that is proactive and instructional. The district’s character education program works hand in hand with PBIS. With these and other complimentary programs in place, schools report even better than normal student behavior.

One of the major changes in Chatham County Schools as the 2010-2011 school year begins will be that the district will now have seventeen schools. North Chatham School and Perry Harrison School have both served students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade since they opened. Due to overcrowding, the district is opening a new middle school during the upcoming school year. North Chatham and Harrison will now become traditional elementary schools, serving students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. Margaret B. Pollard Middle School will serve students in sixth through eighth grade. Construction of the school should be complete in late November or early December. At that point equipment will be moved into the school in preparation for students and staff to occupy the campus in January after the holiday break. Until January, the middle school students will be temporarily housed on the same campuses, either North Chatham or Harrison, where they would have attended prior to Pollard being built. The district’s newest school is named for Margaret Bryant Pollard, a Chatham County native and former county commissioner who was well known for her community involvement.

The staff in Chatham County Schools is working to meet the needs of its 21st century learners. Recognizing that today’s students grow up used to using cell phones, game systems, computers, etc., the school district is working to migrate from traditional chalkboard/lecture techniques to more project-based and collaborative learning environments. The use of technology as a tool in the classroom is part of that process. In 2009, thanks to funding from a Golden LEAF Foundation grant, students at Jordan-Matthews High School were issued new MacBook laptop computers. iBook laptops that had been in use at Jordan-Matthews were redistributed to Chatham Central, Northwood and SAGE Academy, allowing the district to achieve one of its long term goals of issuing a digital device to individual students that they could use at school and at home. As a result of having additional computers, students can take many online courses that their schools may not be staffed to offer. High school students will be using better technology than ever to explore the subjects they are taking in the fall of 2010. During its June 21st meeting, the Chatham County Board of Commissioners approved the replacement of high school iBooks, which are several years old, with MacBooks like those at Jordan-Matthews. All school district sites have wireless Internet access and sets of iBooks on classroom carts are in use at all schools that serve elementary and middle school students. Over the summer Internet bandwidth was at least doubled at all schools and the central office to better accommodate more staff and students using online resources.

Chatham County Schools excitedly anticipates approximately 7,738 students in kindergarten through twelfth grade when students return on August 25. Open house and other school orientation dates will be posted on the district website and announced by individual schools. School supply lists will also be available through each individual school.

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