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North Chatham School PTSA meeting

By Gerald Totten
Posted Wednesday, May 9, 2007

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Pittsboro, NC - What a pleasure to attend a Parent-Teacher-Student Association meeting last night with every chair filled! I didn’t count the attendees but the multi-purpose room was packed, a fact I’d like to see at every PTSA meeting I attend. Only through such well-conducted meetings and participation by the members and guests can sincere, effective dialog be had. Thanks to everyone who made that meeting last night.

We then were entertained by an exuberant chorus of youngsters with lively songs. The group was well-trained in that there were many hand signals to accompany the singing and every child was synchronized like a Marine Corps drill team. A pleasant addition to the program indeed.

Once the business reports were concluded there was a presentation by Board of Education member Kathie Russell outlining her initiative for parent participation in advisory groups. A sign-up sheet was passed around so that Kathie has points of contact as this long-awaited and long promised initiative gets off the ground. She emphasized there was no agenda or pre-conceived ideas - just an effort to get more public interest in what they want from the school system and an effort to expand open communication. In case interested folks missed the meeting sign up sheet but want in on the action, contact Kathie directly, any member of the school administration or any other Board of Education member.

Next was a lively discussion between the audience and Norman Clark, Chair of the Board of Education. The majority of questions and comments surrounded building plans for new schools, primarily a new middle school and high school. The answers to those questions are that the Board of Education is committed to both schools as soon as the funding stream opens. There has been no change or deviation from the recommended optimum sites as outlined by North Carolina State’s Operations Laboratory. Those recommendations are on the county schools’ web site.

More questions surrounded the coming growth of North Chatham School, how that growth will be handled by the central office and the need for both more money and teachers.
While there were many suggestions made, one that made the top of the list to me was the movement of mobile classrooms early during the summer break so that they are ready for the influx of students in August. In this manner all utilities can be in place ready to accept students rather than wait until the Virginia Cross Elementary is occupied then move the units from Siler City Elementary. This would inconvenience some children at Siler City for a short time but would allow continuity to the North Chatham School students.

The numbers of new teachers to be assigned has been announced to the principal as 6. Another message has the number at 7. The County Manager’s budget recommendation was delivered to the County Commissioners Monday of this week and did contain the schools’ request for 16 new teachers and 16 assistants. Once the Commissioners review the budget recommendation we should have a better idea where those teachers will be assigned.

Emphasized is the County’s funding stream with the possible rearrangement of priorities to favor earlier access to funds by the schools. It must be restated that as of this writing, no such rearrangement has been made.

Another idea floated was the voluntary transfer of some students to Horton Middle School to relieve overcrowding at North Chatham. Until 30 June, parents can request transfer to Horton in accord with school policy. While I am in favor of redistricting to balance student loads between Perry Harrison, North Chatham, Moncure and Horton, no such plan is currently being considered. If redistricting took place involving those four schools, the fix would be temporary until the new middle school came on line but it is an option.

Thanks to the leadership of North Chatham’s PTSA for a very delightful and insightful meeting.

Edit: Some of the attendees last night stated they had missed my up to date posts on my blog and on the Bulletin Board and asked what had happened. I assure readers that I haven’t forgotten this blog or other posts. My wife had rotator cuff surgery in mid April and then was readmitted for a possible pulmonary embolism. Running back and forth to hospitals and doctors for the love of my life has taken its toll on time. The blog was one of the victims. She is home again now and I will have more time available to “blog”. To those who wondered, thanks for the endorsement!

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Related info:
Chatham County School Daze Blog