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What we care about is the value in our community schools

By Kathie Russell
Posted Tuesday, February 15, 2011

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Moncure, NC - The negative postings about Mr. Logan and the accusations need to stop!

If you wish to oppose the redistricting plan, please by all means do so, but please do so in a reasonable, intelligent manner. Hiding behind pseudonyms and allegations that border on hysteria are not helpful and will not persuade the Chatham County Board of Education to see your side of things.

When you make untrue and irrational arguments, people tend to disregard everything else you say too. What you need to do is get the real facts and present them logically and rationally. Proposing witch hunts and throwing Logan out of office because he proposed this plan is misguided and wrong, but most importantly, it does not focus on the issue at hand. If you want to solve the problem, focus on the issue.

And sticking to the issue means not bringing in other issues that are not relevant. For example, quit making threats about Pollard Middle School. Yes, it is the most modern and best equipped school in the district. Of course it is. It was just built. How could it be otherwise? Are you suggesting we should have built a school that is below the standard for today's schools? How ridiculous! The school was not an extravagance. It was built to today's standards, for a reasonable budget for school construction. And the next school that is built will be built to the most up to date standards and it will eclipse Pollard. Such is the nature of things. Pollard is a fine school and we should be referencing it as a point of pride, not derision.

Further, Pollard schhol was planned, approved, and begun before there was any budget crisis. School financing is a hugely complex matter and you cannot second guess decisions that were made four years ago in light of today's economy. Please people, think about it and understand what you are talking about. Stick to the issues and don't muddy the waters with threats and arguments that only make you appear ignorant - bringing up Pollard in this context has no relevance at all and is not in any way helpful to what we are trying to achieve right now. Argue what is relevant!

Having said that, I am in total opposition of the redistricting plan. I think the budget savings argument is ill-reasoned and the cost benefit analysis falls clearly on the side of keeping the current K-8 configurations in place. One of the arguments put forth by Logan is that middle schools can provide more benefits such as more variety of course offerings, extracurriculars, sports, etc. This is a valid argument and one he makes because he cares about your kids, not because he is part of any sort of conspiracy or wants to hurt anyone or is out to get you. And, he makes a valid point.

Realize that, accept it - it is true. Your job, however, if you oppose this, is to make him understand that there are things that are more important to us and our kids than what he perceives is the most important thing - because we don't care about the added benefits of move varied classes, better sports, etc. What we care about, and hold above all else and find much more value in than any of these other things, is the value in our community school. I could list all of the benefits and all of the things that are important and make this a true statement, but you already know what they are.

Make the BOE and Logan understand that these things are way more valuable and important than offering more classes or more sports! And these things are important enough that, even if this move saves some money, there is another move that will save money equally in exchange for giving up something of much less value.

And another thing to remind them of is that our district is entirely unique. There is a normal rational thought process that says to standardize schools in a district - i.e., make them all K-8 or make them all on a middle school model. However, that rationale does NOT apply to Chatham because of our unique geographic make up. We are really like at least two, and actually more like four, separate and distinct districts. The northeast affluence, the northwest with the large Hispanic popluations, the southwest rural/agricultural and the southeast historically black/middle class.

The same challenges in running this district, which Logan and the BOE are very aware of, are the same reasons to resist standardizing. It is not even possible to standardize such a diverse county - so why should they have the same middle school model? They shouldn't , and the BOE shouldn't even try. It's futile and it makes no sense. Make them realize this! And because the value in our K-8 schools is HUGE and irreplaceable - now you must make Logan and the BOE see that.

Tell them in your own words, passionately and forcefully, and without stooping to personal insults or calling for the ouster of the superintendent! Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater - Logan is the best thing that ever happened to Chatham County Schools and take that into account in your reasoning. Please, let's let the guy make a mistake - he is not all knowing - and now let's help him correct it.

Logan has stated that parents are the most crucial partners in a school district. So let's all act like what we are - adults, parents, crucial partners in the schools. If we proceed accordingly, he will come to see the error of his ways, and if he doesn't, the BOE will and they will overrule him. I do have faith in this but only if the parents start acting like intelligent, rational, crucial partners. Stick to the facts at hand and show them why this is a wrong move!

Logan and the BOE are doing what they should do. They are seeking ways to balance the budget. Everyone needs to understand how very, very, difficult this job is at this moment. The last two years I served on the BOE we had to make very difficult cuts and we cut everything we could while trying to preserve a good education for our kids. The straight truth is that the cuts have to be made, and that is coming from the federal budget and the state budget. Blaming Logan for that is sadly misguided. He and the BOE are doing the best they can under the circumstances. The cuts they have to make now are going to hurt our district and our children no matter what they decide. They are in a no-win situation, as we all are in the current economy. Please keep this in mind when making your comments.

You have to show them that the current K-8 configuration is SO valuable (and I really believe that is true) that the cuts need to come elsewhere. If you really believe also that this is true, look deep and you will find the right words to oppose this move. And you will find those words without having to resort to threatening lawsuits against Logan, or accusing anyone of having some grand plan that is bad for our kids, or griping about the new school, or any other such ridiculous theory. If we all just realize that we all want the same thing in the end, and realize that it is up to us to show Logan and the BOE what is best for the students and what the parent partners need to see happen, then we will find the right words and the right way to go about this.

If the ridiculous posts don't stop you are hurting, not helping, the cause. Intelligent, well informed posts should continue, like the ones I have seen coming from Moncure parents and some others. Nobody is going to give any credibility to your opinions if you persist in these ridiculous posts. Please - help Logan and the BOE to make the right decision, and help us help them do that - don't hurt us.

Kathie Russell was a former Chatham County School Board member

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What we care about is the value in our community schools
Kathie Russell

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