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Followup to the June 21 school board meeting

By Mia Munn
Posted Sunday, July 11, 2010

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Pittsboro, NC - Here is a followup to the school board meeting held on June 21.

Personnel issues:
New Principal for Bennett - Christopher Poston (1992 Northwood grad, wife teaches at Silk Hope)
New Principal for Jordan-Matthews - Martin McDonald
New Asst Principal for Northwood - Marcus Funches
New Asst Principal for Lisa Jordan

Apparently Norma Boone has been reassigned from principal at J-M to a central office position. During public comments, one woman from J-M (I believe she works in the office there) presented a petition with 430 names asking that Ms. Boone be kept at J-M. (The public comment didn't mention a name, just that it was about a situation at J-M, because you aren't allowed to call out individuals during public comment.) The personnel agenda has not yet been posted, so I don't know what position she has now.

"I'd rather have a smart teacher than a smart board"

Changing the school board compensation - the board asked the admin to write guidelines on what qualifies for a meeting payment, and to investigate what would have to be done to get authorization to change compensation. There was not a consensus on moving from per meeting payments ($90/meeting) to a monthly stipend ($3,600/year).

CCS has joined the NC Child Nutrition Procument Alliance, along with 86 of the 115 districts. This should bring down food costs - a similar sized county in the Alliance saved about $200K this school year.

It is apparently routine for bonds issued for school capital needs to have a school building as collateral. The Chatham County Finance Dept requested that Silk Hope School be used as collateral for the $4.4M in Qualified School Construction Bonds (part of the federal stimulus) to allow bond's under the county's debt model. Bids for the first round of construction, renovating the restrooms at J-M, were opened, and the low bid of $741K by Lomax was accepted. This was about $100K less than the district thought it would cost (due to the slow economy). As soon as the bond money is available, probably next month, the work can start. The repayment rate on the bonds is about one percent and they are with reputable banks (I'm not sure what that means anymore).

Middle School football and Varsity Lacrosse at Northwood were not approved due to the start-up and ongoing costs.

Mr. Hamm made the suggestion that requests for funding should come in January, before the budget is written, instead of June, when it is too late to even consider.

The 2010-2013 AIG Plan was presented. Mr. OBrien was on the large committee that gave input and he discussed some concerns about the process (mainly that the committee was never presented the plan so they felt like their input went into a black hole [my words]). The state funds AIG students up to 4% of the student population. We have 1,431 students, or 18% of the population, identified as AIG. We got $362K from the state for those students in 2009-10 and expect $372K next year. We have eight AIG teachers at the K-8 level; high school AIG students are served through advanced classes. Web page.

Very preliminary (not final, subject to change) EOG and EOC results were presented. District-wide, it appears there are some issues in 4th and 7th grade, with decreases from last year in both reading and math. But, when you compare that grade's scores with their grades the year before (in 3rd and 6th) the picture is a little better. For EOCs, the results looked very good, with significant increases in US History (85.6%) and in Algebra I (77.5%), a sign that the strategies and support in the Johns-Hopkins Algebra I study have made a difference (and perhaps evidence that the 1:1 laptop initiative is increasing student performance.) The bad news is that there is a state policy involving the number of students taking the alternative assessment Extend-2 and scoring proficient. Since more than 2% of the students in grades 3-8 took that alternate assessment and were proficient, the district's (and individual schools') score will be reduced - the point is to discourage schools from inappropriately giving students a too-easy alternate test, instead of the standard test. I think the intention is sound, but the implementation is a little screwy.

There was also first reading of a policy on DNR (do not rescusitate requests). In the rewriting of policies this got missed. The school does not honor parents DNRs for students, so will always try to revive a child, but once EMS is on scene, it is their decision. (This is the policy approved by the NC School Boards Association.

Mia Munn is a former educator who ran for the Chatham County school board in 2008.

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