"Focused Dialog" about Glenwood/Carrboro Elementary programs

Just got the following somewhat cryptic press release from the CHCCSS. As usualy I had to download an open a Word doucment and get more than halfway through it before I could even figure out what the topic is ("Enrollment Levels at Glenwood Elementary School").To learn more about this issue, see the recent Indy story: Redistricting Rankling Carrboro Parents.

I can theoretically understand the value of this type of  meeting, but it's hard not to feel like the schools would prefer that most of us are seen and not heard.


Focused Dialogue

6:00 p.m. - Monday, December 2 - East Chapel Hill High


Chapel Hill, NC - The goals, vision, and strategies of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools (CHCCS) long range plan are rooted in a set of guiding principles. These guiding principles were crafted after significant input from staff, parents, community, and students. One of those principles reads "We believe in a culture that promotes collaboration, civility, mutual trust, and community partnerships."

In support of that belief, the administration of the CHCCS will be initiating focused dialogues in an effort to engage parents in meaningful conversations on important issues that impact our schools. Furthermore, it is our intent to provide parent representatives with accurate information about current initiatives. The PTA Council offered a number of suggestions regarding the make-up of these dialogue groups.

In order to maintain a workable group, it has been suggested that for an elementary school issue, for example, no more than four individuals from each school will be selected. At least one representative should come from the School Improvement Team and one from the PTA. Depending on the issue, a faculty representative may also be included. Other parent representatives would be selected from the general school community. All parents and community members are welcome to attend as there will be an opportunity for those who are not at the discussion tables to share input electronically.

"The focused dialogue model has been used in other school districts with tremendous success," said Superintendent Tom Forcella. "Parents and community members have an opportunity to discuss issues in greater depth and collaborate on recommendations."

A pilot focused parent dialogue will be conducted on the topic, "Enrollment Levels at Glenwood Elementary School." All elementary schools are asked to participate as potential solutions could ultimately impact some or all elementary schools. The event is set for 6:00 p.m. on December 2, 2013, in the East Chapel Hill High Commons.

This particular topic generated significant input from parents at the November 7, 2013 Board of Education meeting and is not slated to come back to the Board until January. The December 2 focused dialogue will provide sufficient time for the administration to combine the input from this session with other available information in order to make a recommendation to the Board of Education.

It is important to know that the parent dialogue is not meant to keep people out, but rather to invite a more representative parent voice in the decision-making process. As always, parents may utilize all the existing communication avenues such as email and public comment to voice their opinion. The parent dialogues simply add another layer to the conversation.

Thank you for your consideration as we attempt to improve communications with parents and community.



Monday, December 2, 2013 - 6:00pm


East Chapel Hill High School

School redistricting wrap-up

school reassignment mapLast month the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board decided on the new school districts that will go into effect as we open our eleventh elementary school this fall. I was always aware that these school reassignment discussions were contentious, but now that my son will be starting kindergarten in 2014, I'm trying to learn a lot more about how our coveted educational sausage is made. Since my neighborhood was assigned to the walk zone of the brand-new Northside Elementary, I was able to wade deeper into the mucky reassignment debate without having much personal investment in the outcome.

I think the board did the right thing in choosing the plan that did the best job of distributing racial and economic diversity. But the process is inherently impossible. There is simply no way to put everyone in the school they want without inconveniencing someone else. In this post I attempt to briefly summarize how the whole 2012-2013 redistricting went down.

Civil rights advocates call for diversity in school reassignment

Mark Dorosin - who is the managing director of the UNC Center for Civil Rights, a father of three, and a recently sworn-in in Orange County Commissioner - has written a letter to the Chapel Hill Carrboro School Board about the current school reassignment discussion. I couldn't agree with him more about the thinly veiled racism in the sudden clamor for "community schools." A term which is still fully tainted by the Republican takeover of the Wake County School Board, and rings hollow in suburban Chapel Hill where almost no schools are realistically walkable.

“Unless our children begin to learn together, there is little hope that our people will learn to live together.”  Thurgood Marshall

Dear Chairperson Brownstein and Members of the Board of Education:

As you begin to discuss the various redistricting options, I urge you to make racial and socio-economic diversity the highest priority in the redistricting criteria under consideration.  As the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board, like its peers across the state, continues to work to improve student achievement and close the gap between white and minority students’ test scores, it is critical that every available resource be utilized.  These resources include, in addition to technology, books and high quality teachers, students and families. Extensive social science research demonstrates that students learn from their peers, and that racial and socio-economic diversity among students enhances that learning.   All students, regardless of their individual socio-economic status or race, achieve at higher levels in socio-economically diverse schools.

News flash: no-one wants their kids to have to change schools

Last night I stepped into the lion's den. In other words, I attended a Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools (CHCCS) reditricting hearing. These meetings are legendary and this one did not disappoint. 

See my tweets (and other people's responses) on Storify or below.

New Elementary School and New School Districts Coming in 2013

By Geoff Green and Ruby Sinreich

With the the new Northside Elementary School, a.k.a. elementary #11, set to open next summer (as well as Frank Porter Graham Elementary School's transition to a dual-language magnet school), we'll be forced to go through another dreaded reassignment process to balance enrollment and capacity at our oft-crowded elementary schools. Superintendent Tom Forcella issued a memo on August 2 (PDF) about how this could go.

Forcella says he expects to reassign over 1,000 elementary school students. A redistricting team of 8 staff members has already been created. They are charged with creating three plans to be reviewed by a Redistricting Advisory Council, made up of staff and parent representatives from all the elementary schools and from Carrboro High School, which will recommend one to the School Board. 

Redistricting and Orange County

Note: All the following maps were made by my resident GIS specialist, Jason Baker. Use the checkboxes to toggle the display of old/new districts.

The events in state politics over the last two weeks have served as a reminder that election season is now here. Candidate filing for the May primary starts today. This will also be the first election to use the newly drawn maps for the NC House, NC Senate, and US House districts. These maps alter (rather drastically, in some cases) how Orange County is represented at the state and federal level, so I thought it would be helpful to provide a summary of the changes in each district.



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