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Did Chatham School Superintendent Logan issue a gag order on the issue of school reorganization?

Posted Monday, February 14, 2011

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Pittsboro, NC - On February 3, 2011 Chatham County Schools Superintendent Robert L. Logan issued a memorandum to all Chatham County Schools personnel outlining the proposed school system reorganization.


To: All Chatham County Schools Personnel

From: Robert L. Logan

Re: 2011-2012 Budget/Redistricting/Reconfiguration

Date: February 3, 2011

By now you are aware of the much discussed 2011-2012 state budget deficit. An early estimate is that North Carolina is facing a $3.7 to $4 billion budget deficit. The state’s budget deficit equates to a $1.1 billion state education budget shortfall. Chatham County Schools’ portion of this deficit is now estimated at $5.3 million. During the 2009-2010 school year $2.6 million was cut from our school budget, and again this year, 2010-2011, $1.6 million was cut. Thus our school system budget has been reduced by $4 million and 24 positions over the past two years, yet no personnel have been displaced due to budget reductions.

The previous two years of budget reductions have left us with very little else to cut except personnel. Frugal spending and sound fiscal management have resulted in a fund balance over $2 million which will be used to reduce the deficit, but a significant budget shortfall still remains. The state is considering drastic measures such as increasing class size and reducing K-3 teacher assistants. In an effort to cover the local budget deficit many options are under consideration. One such possibility is a proposal to reconfigure our school system from its present K-4, K-5, K-8, 5-8, 6-8, and 9-12 configuration to a K-5, 6-8, 9-12 grade organizational configuration. The K-8 configuration has been in place for a long time in Chatham County and staff and parents embrace and support the configuration. Over time, in order to ensure operational efficacy, additional resources have been allocated to the K-8 schools due to their small sizes. Even with our best attempts, staffing is not sufficient for the operation of the small K-8 schools.

During the January 10, 2011, school board retreat, a proposal was presented to reconfigure the school system. The proposal is based on 1) creation of equity of services for all students, 2) reducing the potential loss of services, programs, and personnel to schools, and 3) improving facility utilization (bringing all schools under building enrollment capacity). The reconfiguration proposal has been met with considerable parental opposition in some communities. Schools consist of five crucial publics: our students, who we are charged to educate; the staff, which is entrusted to provide the highest level of educational service to our students; the parents, who are our partners and support and expect us to educate their children at high levels; the tax payers, who trust us to operate a school district as efficiently as possible; and corporate America, who depends on us to provide a well educated, workforce. Parents are our first and most crucial partners. It is the goal of a school system to respond to the needs of the students and the expectations of the parents. Before the Board of Education makes any final decision, opportunities will be provided for parents to respond to the reconfiguration proposal.

Unfortunately, it has come to my attention through emails and personal conversations that some staff members have made some highly charged, derogatory remarks about students at other schools. Please be reminded, as employees of the school system, we are to remain professional at all times and do what we have been charged to do, educate the students in our school district. Making derogatory comments, or belittling students, a school, or colleague is considered unprofessional. For when derogatory remarks are made about another school, a negative perception is cast upon the children and staff, and community that the school serves. It is my expectation that such behavior be suspended immediately. As professional educators, we serve as role models for our students and are held to a higher standard than most.

As previously indicated, opportunities will be scheduled for anyone, staff included, to share his or her thoughts on the matter. Our first and foremost responsibility is to serve the children we are legally charged to educate each and every day. Let us proceed through this process with civility and professionalism and work to collaboratively balance the school budget.

Your cooperation, attention and thoughtfulness regarding these matters are greatly appreciated.

Thank you

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Did Chatham School Superintendent Logan issue a gag order on the issue of school reorganization?
Chatham County school superintendent Robert Logan.