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A Bennett resident gives Mr. Logan and the Chatham School Board a piece of her mind

By Beth Stevens
Posted Saturday, February 19, 2011

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Bennett, NC - This is the letter I wrote to Mr. Robert Logan and the Chatham County Board of Education.

Dear Mr. Logan and Board of Education Members,

I have thought all day about whether to write this or not, and to be quite honest I'm still not sure that I should. That being said, I would like to tell you a little about myself.

My name is Beth Stevens and I have been a resident of Chatham County all my life. I attended Silk Hope from kindergarten till eighth grade and then went on to Jordan Matthew high school. I can remember having a great sense of pride and community at both schools, more so at Silk Hope because I was there so long, but at Jordan-Matthews as well. I spent my high school years making many mistakes that many teens do at that age, and then went on to join the Army and served my country. I met my husband and began to raise a family. When we bought our house in Bennett, I never thought about what school was there at the time, because did not have children yet. But when we started our family, I was really glad that my children would go to a school with the same atmosphere that my husband and I did.

I never realized that having such a close knit community would be or could be viewed by others in the way that was expressed last night. I want to set the record straight about or community.

I understand that some folks feel that our school gets more funding than others in the county, however if the facts were actually looked at they could see that we have four employees that are paid by our schools payroll, that are not full time at our school. They are shared between several schools in this area. Also they may not take into consideration that the majority of our teachers from Bennett stay longer, thus earning more. I wish that all of these accusations had been researched beforehand. I also would like to say that the alleged funding that our school receives is still not enough to provide the same things that some others do.

For example, my husband is on the PTA for our school so this is not myth it is fact, our PTA gave our schools library approx. $20,000 last school year to provide new books, because ours were ratty and torn beyond repair. Do I think that our PTA is responsible to help fund our schools, yes, but I do not feel that we should have to fund things like that. Another example, smart boards, clickers, calculators, all are funded by our PTA. Our school play ground received only $20,000 from the county; the rest was raised and given, again by the PTA.

Why is it that Virginia Cross received full funding of $50,000 and didn’t get the equipment that we did? Could there be a better way to build these things? If the county would actually go with a cheaper bid maybe, but our system doesn’t work that way. Instead we continue to pass work on our schools to bidders that are recommended by politicians, that is a problem because they do not have our budget in mind. All they see is the government funding and they run with it, thinking that there is a plethora of money. Unfortunately we can only change one person at a time and one situation at a time. I believe that there is a better way to do things.

Having said all of that, I would like to say that I have accepted that there may be some changes in the coming school year, changes that will affect my children. But, I do not accept that this is the ONLY option out there. I feel that if the tables were turned and the reconfiguration was done in the reverse, there would be equal opposition. I will tell you that I am not completely against the middle school idea, however if the amount that will be saved is such a minor amount considering the large deficit, I do not support it. If you could prove to me that it would save a substantial amount of money, like I don’t know, two million dollars or even one million dollars then maybe I could see the change being necessary. But to change a system that has been proven to work for such a minute amount of savings is crazy to me. I am not alone in this feeling.

Reconfiguration should be an option that is looked at, but other options should be given an equal amount of research. Not shoving this plan as the only plan down our throats. And to be quite honest that is how it has been received by all K-8 communities.

I also have a real problem with the busing issue. I feel as a parent of two daughters, that putting them on a bus at age twelve, with students, mainly boys, that are in their upper teens is a bad idea. You open up a lot of possibilities for bullying and sexual harassment. You know that being a young teenager is a very impressionable age, and exposing smaller preteens to some, not all, upper teenagers that are a little more experienced in certain areas may not be the best thing. I’m sure that you can see where I am coming from.

A lot of people talk about equity. I’m not sure what exactly that means, I guess it could mean different thing to different people. To me it means giving every child the education they deserve. I feel that k-8 and middle schools provide that. And I am so glad that we have that in this county.

All these great schools have different things to offer, such as the dual language program, which is great. Why is it that all schools in the county do not offer this? If we are talking about equity.

It was brought up last night at Jordan Matthew’s hearing that some people feel that Bennett is just a publicly funded private school; it breaks my heart to have folks feel that way. It was also said that we don’t want “brown children” here. Let me tell you, Mr. Logan, which is simply not the case. I for one could care less if people moved here and went to our school that were polka dotted. It worries me that we are viewed in this light. I think that racism comes from all walks of people, white, black, Hispanic. I for one feel that the statement that was made was a very racist one, and was confused as to why it was brought up in the first place.

In closing, I pray that the board and you, Mr. Logan, let God lead you in the right direction in making this decision. Thank you for your time and consideration to all points of view.



Beth Stevens

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A Bennett resident gives Mr. Logan and the Chatham School Board a piece of her mind