OP Live Candidate Forum 2017: Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education

The 2017 OP Live Candidate Forum 2017 for CHCCS Board of Education candidates was held on October 8, 2017. All seven candidates for school board participated live. View the recap here.

Hello! Welcome to the 2017 OP Live Candidate Forum 2017 for CHCCS Board of Education candidate.  We are delighted to have you with us, to entertain questions from constituents and others who are interested about issues important to the education of CHCCS students and youth.  The format is that the moderator (me, Barbara Fedders, Assistant Professor of Law at UNC School of Law) will pose questions, some of which I've prepared in advance but most of which will come from listeners.  Candidates will have about five minutes to give an opening statement.  We will post a question about every eight-ten minutes.  Let's get started.

Hi.  I’m James Barrett, and I’m asking for your vote to re-elect me to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools (CHCCS) Board of Education.  Except for my college years, I have lived in Chapel Hill for the past 40 years and attended our public schools; I’m the son of a longtime teacher in the district and father to a high schooler and a college freshman who attended CHCCS schools since 1st grade.

After 5 years of pushing for social justice change “from the outside” via Justice United, I won a seat on the school board in 2011.  I have served the past 2 years as the board’s chair. Along with experience and a deep understanding of district operations and policy, I bring fresh ideas and my ongoing passion for improving public education for all students, so I’m seeking another term to continue the work we have in front of us.

My first priority is to drive successful implementation of our district equity plan, approved by the board this past spring.  This plan lays out the roadmap for changes we need in order to close our achievement gaps and ensure success for each and every student in our district.

One specific thing we can improve to achieve this overall goal is to increase our innovative and engaging instruction. As you may know, we hired a new superintendent this year, Pam Baldwin; at the start of school in August, she challenged teachers to make their classrooms “fun.” That doesn’t mean a lack of rigor in instruction and assignments, but it does mean being culturally relevant and using different styles to engage all students in their learning, every day--so that every student grows every year.

Among many other things I’d like us to tackle--from personalized learning to providing affordable teacher housing so we can recruit and retain great teachers--I want to continue the good work we’ve begun on transparency of board decisions, particularly around budgeting.  We have added a 2-pager explaining how our money is used. We should also clearly show individual program expenses, and overhaul our budget process to align our spending very clearly with the needs of every student. Such priority-based budgeting  would force administrators and the board to think even more carefully about how we follow through on our stated values.

We have a great district by some measures.  But we know not all students are accessing the same opportunities for success.  The board must ensure that our community values of equity and excellence are seen through in everything we do.


Please feel free to read more about me at http://barrettforschools.com or http://facebook.com/barrettforschools

Thank you Orange Politics! It is an exciting time for the Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools. We have welcomed a new superintendent who will have the chance to review and reevaluate policies and to chart a course for the next several years.  As we work together to help all of our students realize their potential, my recent classroom experience as a CHCCS classroom teacher as well as my background as an advocate of children and families from all communities, will enable me to bring an additional useful perspective to issues that impact the classroom. I welcome everyone to visit my website for more information: www.kimforchccs.com. 

My name is Joal Hall Broun, I am running to remain on the Chapel Hill Carrboro School Board. I want to thank Orangepolitics.org and its editors for providing this forum and the moderator, Barbara Fedders for her participation. As a current Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools Board of Education member, I want to continue to work on closing the achievement gap and maintaining excellence in education for all of our children. I am running to recruit, retain, and support teachers and school leadership. I want to develop the funding plan for capital for the schools. I also want to increase the opportunities for use of technology to provide greater opportunities for students and ensure accountability throughout the district. For updates about my campaign and information, please visit my website: https://broun4schools.org/. 

I am running for school board because I believe in delivering results for every student.

The defining challenge of our school district is equity which I like to call equality of results.  I believe the purpose of public education is to position young to all be able to succeed in life - whatever success means to that individual.  It is clear from the data we have that the number one predicter of student outcomes - starting income, college preparedness, test scores, whatever else - is race.  There is a moral outrage and most be changed.  While efforts are ongoing by the current board, I believe I can help accelerate progress.

Running as a recent student and with a very intentional student focused perspective from my personal experience within twenty-first century school systems, I believe that one of the best ways to address inequity within our schools is to look at the de facto intra-school segregation arising from gifted, honors, and Advanced Placement classes.  We also know that, again, race is the dominating factor in determine what classrooms students sit in throughout middle and high school.  This is an affront to the aims of our education system to produce society of equal individuals all equitably positioned to succeed.

I will also work with the board to continue to advance other initiatives to promote equity.  It is my opinion that our current board is on the right track but just leaving the station.  So I hope to continue to advance their efforts on a range of programs designed with equality of results in mind from promoting literacy by the end of third grade to hiring educators that are representative of our students to empowering the equity work of our outstanding district leadership.  In each of this considerations, I will strive to keep my recent experience as a student at the forefront to enrich the depth of the programs and to capture as many unexpected complications early on.

We are all exceptional blessed to live in a community that values education so highly because there is no greater tool to advance social justice.  I'm looking forward to working smart and working hard to realize our shared values of equity and take our community from what it is now to what we all hope it to be.

Education is part of who I am and how I think. My mom was a kindergarten teacher, and I taught 5th grade before working with districts and schools in all 50 states for the past 20 years. My own three children have attended elementary, middle, and high schools in our district.

CHCCS is a very good school district for many of our students, but we can be an excellent district for all of our students. Our graduates will go into different jobs and careers than currently exist. Instructional strategies that engage students; develop collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and creativity; and personalize their learning experience can be implemented to ensure that all students are prepared for college, career, and citizenship. We must have high expectations for every child and believe that every student is capable of having ownership of their own learning.  

I have extensive experience in education, public policy, and business, all of which I would bring to bear as a member of the CHCCS Board of Education.


In addition to having been a classroom teacher, I have spent the majority of my professional life studying and developing programs that help create successful schools. I have a PhD in Education, and I am currently the Director of the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative at The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at NC State University. As part of my work, I have worked with hundreds of schools and school district leaders across our state and the nation as a whole and have spent time in schools in many different districts and states. I have a deep understanding of teaching and learning, as well as the infrastructure, culture, professional learning, and leadership that need to be in place to help students reach their potential. I have had the chance to see what works and what doesn’t work, while understanding the critical questions to ask of administrators, educators, and policy makers.


I spent eight years working in Washington, DC for the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) with the last four years as Executive Director. Our mission was to understand how schools and school districts can use digital resources and other tools to make learning more student-centered and personalized, with an emphasis on collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity.  I also spent a significant amount of time advocating and sharing what works with members of Congress and the Administration, and have written extensively about education, including papers on personalized learning, the culture shift needed in schools (which highlights Ms. Rickard form Morris Grove Elementary), and professional development. Most recently, I have co-authored a book, Leading Personalized and Digital Learning: A Framework for Implementing School Change, that dives deeply into successful strategies that schools and school districts are implementing to support student growth.


Although the majority of my career has been spent in education and digital learning, I have run a small, national education nonprofit and worked closely with the Board of Directors while also managing the budgeting. I have an undergraduate degree in accounting and held a CPA license for 20 years.  These business and analytical skills have supported me in every aspect of my work, and coupled with my educational and policy experience give me a broad perspective on how best to be a good steward of our District’s financial resources.  

I would like to apply my experience in education and in working with districts and schools across the country to ask critical questions as a Board member and to ensure that we work to help each child in CHCCS reach their potential.

My name is Joal Hall Broun, I am running to remain on the Chapel Hill Carrboro School Board. I want to thank Orangepolitics.org and its editors for providing this forum and the moderator, Barbara Fedders for her participation. As a current Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools Board of Education member, I want to continue to work on closing the achievement gap and maintaining excellence in education for all of our children. I am running to recruit, retain, and support teachers and school leadership. I want to develop the funding plan for capital for the schools. I also want to increase the opportunities for use of technology to provide greater opportunities for students and ensure accountability throughout the district. https://broun4schools.org/

 I have lived in Orange County for twenty-four years. I moved to this area and to work in the Judicial 15-B Public Defender’s Office. After serving as a public defender for six and one-half years, I later worked for the largest community financial services organization in North Carolina, Self-Help, as an assistant general counsel. Currently, I was the general counsel for the N.C. Department of the Secretary of State and she now serves as the Lobbying Compliance Director.

I have served as a member of the Orange County Dispute Settlement Center, an organization that offers mediation, facilitation and conflict resolution, including restorative justice program trainings. I also was elected three times and served as a Carrboro Alderperson from 1999 to 2011. I am a member of St. Paul AME Church, and am a trustee.

Since March 2016, I have served on the Chapel Hill Carrboro Board of Education. Prior to her appointment to the board of education, I served on the School Improvement Team of Chapel Hill High School and its chair for one year. I  also was the parent representative for the junior varsity and varsity men’s soccer team for two years.

I am married to Jonathan E. Broun, Senior Staff attorney at Prisoner Legal Services. I have two children, Harrison, a 2017 graduate of Chapel Hill High School, a freshman at UNC-G and Rachel, a rising junior at Chapel Hill High School.

I am a graduate of Ben L. Smith High School in Greensboro, N.C. She is a graduate of Wake Forest University and the Wake Forest University School of Law.


I am hoping to serve on the Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools Board of Education because I care about kids. As a practicing pediatrician, for almost two decades, my career has been about helping kids to succeed. Following my patients’ journeys from childhood into adulthood has been intensely gratifying. Now I am ready to extend my commitment to all of our community’s children by serving on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School Board.

My goal is to empower all kids to learn.  While CHCCS has served my children fairly well, several areas need improvement so that all children graduate prepared for postsecondary education or success in good jobs. My studies in biomedical engineering, pediatrics, and preventive medicine have prepared me to evaluate problems, develop solutions, and monitor progress on both the individual and community level.

I have been deeply invested in Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools as a parent volunteer, reading one on one with students, coaching Science Olympiad, and serving various PTA roles. Specific to preparing me to serve on the CHCCS Board of Education, I have served on the CHCCS Special Needs Advisory Council for several years and as the Chair for the last 2 years. In this role, I have gained experience in translating input from parents into a focused message, and advocating for systemic change in the Exceptional Children’s Department and school district as a whole.  I have advocated for professional development for teachers, paraprofessionals, and school principals related to best practices for educating students with disabilities and also discussed issues related to equity and teacher retention with both EC leadership and past and present Superintendents. I am committed to helping this school district serve all students well!

My top priorities include equity, improving instruction to serve all students well, supporting our teachers, and maintaining a broad and rigorous curriculum that includes the Arts and STEM. 

Learn more at http://committeetoelectamyfowler.com


Good Evening, 

First, thank you Ms. Fedders and the OP staff for hosting this event, and for inviting me to be a part of it. In the spirit of introductions, my name is Ryan Brummond and I'm running for the CHCCS Board of Education because I'm passionate about public education and I want to contribute to our community in a meaningful way. Our family has four young children - two of them are currently in the school system and our third will enter kindergarten next year. We recently moved to Chapel Hill from Onslow County in July, 2017. While we are new to Chapel Hill, I’m no stranger to public education policy – I’m the son of a single mother who worked in the public school district for 35 years. In our short time here in Chapel Hill, we’ve already come to see why CHCCS has such a wonderful reputation. I’ve been incredibly impressed with the dedication of our teachers, staff and district leaders. Of course, there are, and will continue to be, challenges in the future. My aim is to work collaboratively with other board members to meet these challenges in a common sense and responsible manner. Please feel free to visit my facebook page for more information and further updates as we get closer to November 7th. https://www.facebook.com/Brummond4CHCCS/

Education is part of who I am and how I think. My mom was a kindergarten teacher, and I taught 5th grade before working with districts and schools in all 50 states for the past 20 years. My own three children have attended elementary, middle, and high schools in our district.

CHCCS is a very good school district for many of our students, but we can be an excellent district for all of our students. Our graduates will go into different jobs and careers than currently exist. Instructional strategies that engage students; develop collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and creativity; and personalize their learning experience can be implemented to ensure that all students are prepared for college, career, and citizenship. We must have high expectations for every child and believe that every student is capable of having ownership of their own learning.  

I have extensive experience in education, public policy, and business, all of which I would bring to bear as a member of the CHCCS Board of Education.


In addition to having been a classroom teacher, I have spent the majority of my professional life studying and developing programs that help create successful schools. I have a PhD in Education, and I am currently the Director of the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative at The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at NC State University. As part of my work, I have worked with hundreds of schools and school district leaders across our state and the nation as a whole and have spent time in schools in many different districts and states. I have a deep understanding of teaching and learning, as well as the infrastructure, culture, professional learning, and leadership that need to be in place to help students reach their potential. I have had the chance to see what works and what doesn’t work, while understanding the critical questions to ask of administrators, educators, and policy makers.


I spent eight years working in Washington, DC for the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) with the last four years as Executive Director. Our mission was to understand how schools and school districts can use digital resources and other tools to make learning more student-centered and personalized, with an emphasis on collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity.  I also spent a significant amount of time advocating and sharing what works with members of Congress and the Administration, and have written extensively about education, including papers on personalized learning, the culture shift needed in schools (which highlights Ms. Rickard form Morris Grove Elementary), and professional development. Most recently, I have co-authored a book, Leading Personalized and Digital Learning: A Framework for Implementing School Change, that dives deeply into successful strategies that schools and school districts are implementing to support student growth.


Although the majority of my career has been spent in education and digital learning, I have run a small, national education nonprofit and worked closely with the Board of Directors while also managing the budgeting. I have an undergraduate degree in accounting and held a CPA license for 20 years.  These business and analytical skills have supported me in every aspect of my work, and coupled with my educational and policy experience give me a broad perspective on how best to be a good steward of our District’s financial resources.  

I would like to apply my experience in education and in working with districts and schools across the country to ask critical questions as a Board member and to ensure that we work to help each child in CHCCS reach their potential.

The district has a commitment to excellence and equity. But is it possible, in an environment of constrained fiscal resources, to truly have both? Are there any trade-offs that need to be made? If so, what are they?

Equity should not be framed as simply equal inputs for all, but rather as ensuring that each student has what he or she needs to reach his or her potential. This fundamental shift in educational approach means considering each child as an individual and understanding the strengths and weakness that enable or hinder learning. This approach allows for us to accelerate our district in ensuring both equity and excellence for each student.

My work for the past 20 years in education has specifically been focused on understanding the changing needs of our students, our schools, and our communities. Research shows that that students only learn (in terms of knowledge/facts) a very small percentage of what they will need for their careers in K-12, compared to almost the opposite 50 or 60 years ago. Instead, students today need to be able to think critically, analyze and synthesize information, collaborate and create, and communicate with a wide range of audiences. Even though CHCCS has a very strong education system and reports high overall test scores, many new instructional strategies and technologies can be implemented to ensure that all students are growing and learning to meet their potential, including students who are struggling and those who need additional acceleration. While some schools and teachers are taking advantage of digital learning and formative assessment to personalize learning and help each student, this is not necessarily pervasive across the district. To be clear, I am not referring to online coursework, but rather classroom instruction that can be tailored to the immediate learning needs of each student. We should also consider data beyond simply achievement data and instead focus on social emotional learning and the whole child. In addressing equity, we can be striving for excellence for all students.

You can hear more about my thoughts on meeting the needs of each student at http://wolf4chccs.org. 

According to a study by the Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis (one discussed by CHCCS in the Daily Tar Heel), we have the second largest white-black achievement gap in the country, as well as the fifth largest white-latino gap. We must maintain every bit of our rigor and continue to challenge our highest achieving students, while elevating the achievement of every one of our students. We must not endorse ‘zero sum’ framing or decision making but instead address this ongoing problem by offering all students the challenging curricula they need.

It is essential, given limited resources, that our expenditures effectively advance our core goals and educational priorities. We can move every one of our learners forward by using data to critically evaluate what is and what is not getting the job done. We can also be more efficient through increased coordination at many levels, from purchasing processes to integration of the many important student services we provide. Even in the context of constrained resources, it is absolutely possible to move the ball forward on equity while maintaining excellence.

Find my full platform at www.kimforchcc.com.

That same study also showed that our African-American students are doing better than average when adjusted for income. Although our gap is indefensible, it does help to understand context--that our district has a huge wealth gap.  

I do not believe that equity requires additional resources.  It can be done by doing our work better -- using resources in alignment with our priorities and providing the instruction that each individual student needs by an excellent teacher.  One absolute key to this is excellent leaders in every building.  Our principals can determine to a large extent how every student’s needs are addressed.  They need to be trained to recognize the needs of every student, and feel empowered to apply resources as needed to meet those needs.  Our superintendent has said “equity is the work.” There should not be any aspect of what the district is doing that doesn’t take equity into account.

Taking into account our superintendent’s call to innovation and risk-taking in the classroom, we should also look closely at what opportunities personalized learning could provide us for focusing on excellence and equity for every student. Experiments with personalized learning around the country can provide us a roadmap of do’s and don’ts for this, both in keeping costs down, rethinking our use of traditional teacher roles,  and ensuring that our best teachers lead the way, as this is not easy to do well.

It is impossible to have excellence without equity by the very nature of what excellence means.  It is not excellent to promote or perpetuate inequality or even to not ardently stand against it.

It is my opinion that our schools have been greatly harmed in the pursuit of excellence because it has so often been short-hand for white excellence, high income excellence, or excellence for children with two parents with advanced degrees.  But that is not excellence and it is not the purpose of public schools.  The purpose of public schools is to elevate everyone, regardless of their background, and empower them all to form a community of empowered individuals.  In my own life I have seen my own education damaged by exclusionary practices and I see all the markings of the same cirumstances playing out within our own district, so I believe a renewed focus on equity will inevitably lead to better outcomes for all.

I believe it is possible to be an equitable school district with the financial resources we have now and therefore be an excellent school district with the resources we have now.  In fact, my favorite proposal to ensure the creation of representative classrooms throughout middle and high school, should be achieveable without financial investment but simply through codifying best practice into actionable policy.  I also share the opinion of many of my fellow candidates that improved transparency in spending can redirect resources toward equity programs that is perhaps being invested less efficiently than it could be today.

I would take a moment to remind us all that there is no better investment in than in the education of future generations.  As a society, we will get back every cent spent on education many times over from a diverse and well-education community of former students.  So I would encourage further investment for that reason alone aside from innate moral value of treating our young people with respect.

Yes. The District can achieve equity by transparent budgeting aligned with priorities. Equity means that students are educated to their fullest potential no matter their race, learning style, gender, ethnic or socioeconomic background. We must not accept a dichotomy where equity and excellence are in competition. When there is equity for all students, then excellence follows.  
We achieve equity by:

  1. Having diverse, quality teachers who are supported in their use of professional skills 
  2. Eliminating disparate discipline and implementing restorative practices in schools
  3. Delivering rigorous, diverse, instruction and curriculum to all students

However, some trade-offs that have to be considered include:

  1. Determining if some programs have to be eliminated based upon the programs' effectiveness and the number of students it serves.
  2. Seeking outside funding for programs that the District cannot fund itself.


I echo all of what she said -- having diverse teachers is important and doesn't cost extra; eliminating disparities in discipline ensures students are learning more because they are in the classroom more; and improved instruction benefits everyone!

To me, excellence and equity shouldn’t be separate benchmarks. A public school district can’t really be truly excellent if it’s not providing appropriate opportunities and resources for all students - students that range across the continuum of ability and circumstance.  For me, that is part of the definition of excellence. I don’t want to frame the question with excellence and equity in separate columns.


With that said, maintaining excellence in a resource-constrained environment requires an organization to focus on core mission tasks. In my experience this means:


  1. Maintain mission focus and avoid mission creep
  2. Investing in the people who are going to execute this vision; recruit, retain and enable talented people to do the job you want them to do
  3. Seek out and adamantly support efforts that are efficient in meeting multiple lines of effort  

I refuse to believe there should be tradeoffs between equity and excellence. If funds are directed to personalize instruction to meet all students needs then there is no need for a tradeoff. Addressing equity starts with adopting a growth mindset: believing all students are capable of learning and then providing the appropriate supports to make that happen. First and foremost, we need to push for expanding preK to eliminate the waiting list. Having all students better prepared in kindergarten allows instruction to occur at a higher level at the outset for all learners. We should think creatively to provide preteaching and remediation as needed to students that need it, but it is critical that this does not take away from things such as the arts and PE. This is because the arts, PE, and having an innovative curriculum have been demonstrated to enhance learning too. Rather we need to provide appropriate supports and opportunities to help nonproficient learners gain proficiency so they too can achieve excellence.

Can you address whether you think a greater portion of the budget should be spent on gifted services other than those for LEAP students? If so, will you work to make it happen? Budget cuts over the past few years have meant that there is little to no meaningful differentiation for AIG students who are not in the LEAP program.

Spending more on gifted services is actually in line with our need for equity.  Gifted specialists are specifically trained to differentiate instruction for all learners and are needed to support all students.  LEAP actually does not use the gifted budget, as its classes are “load bearing” and do not receive separate support from gifted specialists.  I greatly support Superintendent Baldwin’s efforts to have all K-2 teachers trained in gifted education, for which she has secured grant funding.  Our new, current gifted plan goes a long way to ensuring we are identifying more students across all demographics for gifted services (by specifically targeting top 10% of students in each sub-group rather than an overall percentage).  I’d like to see us think creatively how to serve more gifted students than just LEAP, especially in middle school, by expanding access to accelerated and rigorous courses in every elementary and middle school.

This is the correct answer in the perfect world where gifted designation actually captures "innate ability" and not other factors.

I believe this is why the district gifted education department requires CogAT testing for all students, and sets CogAT thresholds for LEAP eligibility. The ITBS measures academic achievement - a test that can be heavily influenced by academic exposure due to access to tutors, summer camps, pre-K programs, etc. However, the CogAT is specifically designed to be achievement-neutral, and instead focuses on student ability. 

Given certain starting assumptions about the existence or non-existence of innate ability and whether or not we can measure it, we can recognize that some tests are better than others.  But there's a broader eco-system as well that builds up around gifted designation.  Herald-Sun has a great article -> http://www.heraldsun.com/opinion/article152589354.html

I should've been more clear in my answer to say in the perfect world where implicit bias does not exist as and innate ability does.

Our school district has a solid foundation with many excellent teachers and administrators. We also, however, have the opportunity to more effectively meet the needs of each student, including those identified as gifted student who are not in LEAP. When I work with principals and district leaders across our state and country, I often see instruction that is more project based and that provides students with opportunities to grow in their critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity. I see students having opportunities to follow their own passions and interests while meeting the standards. Students are creating and building and learning how to solve problems. Not only does this challenge each student, build upon their strengths, and address learning differences, this helps students become agents of their own learning and more prepared for college, career, and citizenship.

I believe that all students in our district could benefit from looking deeply at instruction and ensuring that we are meeting the needs of each student. This is happening in some classrooms in some schools, but each of our students should be engaged in this way. This approach not only speaks to the idea of equity for all students, but also to how we can better meet the needs of our gifted students. We will need to support educators in professional learning and supports and ensure that they know that they can take risks in their instruction, to try new approaches to personalize within a classroom (moving away from one size fits all or most). I have asked hundreds of teachers about their transition toward personalized learning. Every one says they would not go back. This can make truly change the learning experience for our students.


The State funds gifted programs at 4% of the average daily membership of a District.  Thirty percent or more in our District are identified as gifted.  We do attempt to make up some of the gap in funding with local funds.  The State investment in traditional public schools has remained flat.  
As a member of the Board, I have voted to invest in training more teachers in gifted education, so that there will be more teachers who have the education and skill set to provide gifted education to a greater number of students. Approximately 20 teachers will be receiving professional development in gifted education at Elon University. In addition, I along with other board members hired a superintendent who has experience with using limited funds to expand gifted education. 
I will engage our funders, the County Commissioners, to increase our local funds to provide additional opportunities for our students to receive gifted education. In addition, I will also engage our legislative delegation, the State Board of Education, and our State Superintendent to increase funds to districts, especially ours, who have a greater need for gifted education. 

It is my personal opinion as former students with a gifted designation to directing funds specifically toward gifted students is not necessarily beneficial toward their education and can frequently be harmful.  The best place to learn is in a diverse and inclusive classroom full of students of all backgrounds and gifted designations are frequently used to directly undercut these experiences.  

Within the range that we have fulfill our legal obligations and leave no resources on the table, we should look to integrate gifted students into general student population with full knowledge that gifted designation has become appropriated to create de facto intra-school segretation regime that robs frequently white gifted designation students of a well rounded education and robs other students of resources directed exclusively toward their gifted counterparts.  

While I generally oppose cutting funding to schools, the silver lining on these cuts is that they give us an opportunity to re-evaluate whether many long-standing programs are actually serving the best interests of our students and our community.  In this case, I believe we are moving toward more equal schools so I believe we are moving toward more equitable schools.  

Yes I believe a portion of the budget should be spent on gifted services other than for LEAP students. The district has a large population of students who are identified as gifted. Instruction should be tailored to ensure that all students are making at least one year of progress in one year's time. This to me suggests that gifted services should be provided to all students identified as gifted. However, I also feel we should be using gifted specialists to enhance instruction in the regular classroom to ensure that all students are being challenged to think critically whether or not they meet a strict criterion for this definition. The AIG program has recently developed a 3 year plan that is also working to enrich learning for all students in the K-3 classrooms and on improved methods of identifying "giftedness" in students of color to make sure that the AIG program is enhancing equity rather than inequity. This needs to be supported.

I believe not only that it is critical to elevate the quality of instruction for all of our learners but also, specifically, that this should include include increasing access to gifted curricula. As a CHCCS classroom teacher, I have personally seen that expanding access to gifted services (AIG) and curricula in elementary school can significantly advance students who are not in LEAP but are very ready to move ahead. 

I 100% support resourcing our AIG programs, just as we would support programs for our exceptional students. AIG programming requires additional and unique training, education and experience to be implemented well. In a resource-constrained environment, our district gets more bang-for-buck when we have school-level AIG coordinators who are well trained, resourced and experienced because they can affect/assist/enhance our classroom teachers. Ideally, each classroom teacher in CHCCS  would have an AIG certification or additional professional development, but that’s not realistic. More realistically, we can ensure that our school-level AIG coordinators are well resourced and supported so that they can have a disproportionally positive effect on our AIG-identified students in our classrooms. 

Enrollment in the district’s Mandarin dual-language program at Glenwood Elementary is well below the target level. As a result, the small number of students in the program benefit from access to resources and a small student-teacher ratio not generally available to other students in the district. Some critics say this issue raises equity concerns, calling the program effectively a private school within a public school supported by public funds. How should concerns about the Mandarin program be addressed? Should the program continue?

The benefits of dual language instruction are numerous and well-documented so I will not go into them in great depth here, but suffice to say it is highly beneficial to students both academically and personally.

Consequently, I believe ongoing investment in the Mandarin program is advisable as it allows us to gain additional in-district expertise and knowledge about effectively managing dual language programs across additional languages and should look more to ensuring that the students enrolled in the program are representative of our general student population.  I understand the concerns over private school atmosphere but hope and believe that this is a transient state as we shift as a district and even as as society to more evidence based, modernized, and pluralistic methods of instruction.

Nevertheless, the Mandarin program must continued to be monitored closely and to ensure that it will pay greater dividends, especially with regard to equity, than it does today.

As an aside, as a student I would have relished the opportunity to participate in such a program and would have already made use of it in both my personal and professional life.  

What's in the question is not actually an accurate view.  The board’s efforts to expand Mandarin Dual Language to 2 tracks at Glenwood have not yet been completed, but when they are, the result will be K-5 classes that are actually fuller than classes across the district (they already have significantly larger K-2 classes, which balance out the overall cost today).  The main extra cost associated with Mandarin is transportation, which administration has never quantified and I believe can be addressed in an equitable manner without killing the program (Superintendent Baldwin has discussed using more magnet buses to reduce single pickups).  One thing we absolutely need to improve is the diversity of the MDL classes -- this can be done with clear recruitment and ensuring we have supports for all students.  The benefits of dual language education in exercising young minds is a proven way to grow all students.  There has been inaccurate presentation of the costs of MDL and I understand the confusion around why we offer it, but because I understand the actual financials, I support this unique opportunity for 21st-century learning that helps prepare our students to be global citizens.  

It is critical that our district has a clear vision for teaching and learning and how to meet the needs of each student - and we must be willing to consistently consider how different approaches or programs are helping us achieve our goals for students. The positive aspects of dual language have been shown, but we must plan carefully to ensure that the resources dedicated to the program are achieving those goals and the district’s vision. If the lower than anticipated enrollment continues, we must be willing to look at whether or not there are innovative ways to support the program. We must ensure that the community knows about the opportunities and why the Mandarin program could work for their students, but also be willing to consider an innovative approach to the program if numbers do not increase over time. While the district shares information, there may be ways to go into the community to help parents who may not have sought out the opportunitity learn more. CHCCS has been an innovator in dual language for a long time, and we must continue to hold ourselves to high standards while ensuring we are supporting all of our students.

First, data has shown that Dual Language education benefits the overall development of students. The District will need to evaluate how the Maderin program is currently provided. Currently, I with other members of the Board, are examining Glenwood's current enrollment, which exceeds capacity by 68 students. This issue is being examined to determine how the District provides dual language education at Glenwood. 

Second, I believe that if we have the resources, the program should continue. The issue is how we can provide this type of education experience in light of the limited space at Glenwood. One of the criteria is to minimize the number of children that will be affected by any changes. Finally, the next criteria is to determine a long-term solution that does not displace students currently in the program. 

My classroom teaching experience has been in a traditional setting. While I know that this program has strong supporters, yet has been robustly debated over time, like many or perhaps most people following that debate from afar, I do not yet know all the key practical details on the ground (as might those at Glenwood, or involved in the program, or in the district, or previously on the board). Personally, I believe that more people should know all the details and tradeoffs and I fully expect that they will all be on the table, as we continue to face limited resources.    

Dual Language classrooms have been shown to improve achievement for all students. So typically I would be strongly in favor of dual language programs. I am not opposed to spending a little more for an innovative program if improves student achievement, but if the demand is dwindling, then that needs to be reexamined. We should look at reasons why the enrollment is down. Increasing enrollment, particularly ways to increase diversity in enrollment should be explored so that a more diverse group may benefit.

The concerns about equity surrounding dual language programs are understandable, and even more understandable considering how over-crowded Glenwood and Seawell are. As a newcomer to Chapel Hill, I found it quite surprising that 4 different elementary school buses show up to our 4-street neighborhood. I believe that dual language programs are beneficial to students (as the data shows), and that we should keep them if we have the resources, but also believe that the district should take a good look at how these programs are being implemented. 

Researchers note that there is no conclusive link between school resource officers and school safety. At the same time, many of our students, especially our undocumented students, have good reason to fear the presence of these officers in our schools.  Should school resource officers remain? If so  -- why?

This is not an easy question.  When I first ran in 2011, stories of how students of color were scared to walk into our schools because of the armed police officer at the front door were fresh in my mind, and I was ready to pounce at the first opportunity to remove SROs.  But after the work we’ve done on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with both the Chapel Hill and Carrboro police departments that clearly lays out expectations for our school employees and the SROs, I’m not so sure.  Our SROs are not doing the same work as in other school districts around the country.  We have the data that shows they are not contributing to the school-to-prison pipeline.  Our SROs are well-trained to handle the unique challenges of working full-time with youth.  They are trained in line with our expectations for how our staff approach students -- with Restorative Practices, with equity at the forefront, and by caring for whole-child success.  They receive training from our district in areas such as working with exceptional children, mental health, equity, and even FERPA to ensure that student privacy is protected.  

We know of the positive work SROs do to support our students, staff, and families with situations that would otherwise escalate to serious matters.  Principal Jackson of Chapel Hill High recently spoke movingly of how SROs allow her to focus her job more on learning at a campus that was not designed for today’s security concerns. Our SROs are exemplars of what community policing should be about.  Yes, they are there to protect our students from external harm. But they are also a true resource and provide valuable support for students.  They are not disciplinarians.  We have high expectations for our administration to ensure that our discipline work is done with equity.  Part of those expectations is that school discipline is handled by school personnel only.  The SROs are present to ensure safety, but they are not on hand to discipline.

The positive stories I’ve heard since I’ve been on the board have vastly outnumbered the negative in our community (to repeat--this is unlike what you hear elsewhere in the state and country).  I don’t want any students to feel uncomfortable at school.  I am comforted that our local police (both Carrboro and Chapel Hill) support the Faith ID program and do not in their interactions ask for immigration status, and I’ve heard plenty of stories about SROs who are a trusted advisor for undocumented students, so I believe the fear in other communities does not have as large an impact here.  I’m not willing to risk student safety based on what SROs are doing wrong in other places.  Therefore, while I remain open to discussions on this topic that are backed up by data, I currently conclude that SROs are a useful force in our schools and should be continued, with the board ensuring faithful implementation of our MOU.  Continuing to monitor this program closely is a priority of the board to ensure that we are meeting our community’s expectations.

I have thought about this question for a long time, and many recent conversations have me thinking even more…  I appreciate the research you mention, and I have seen some of the fear in friends of my own kids. I think at the core is the role that the SRO plays in our schools. When I consider the role of SROs and when having SROs in our schools seems to be more effective, it is about the relationship and “bridge” that the SROs have with the students. Some SROs make tangible efforts to build relationships with students to show support and to let kids know that they are a critical resource that can help. The School Board recently heard a report where almost all disciplinary issues in this particular time period were handled within the school not the criminal justice system. However, the national research shows SROs often lead to kids being involved with the criminal justice system sooner.

I believe that we need to delve into this question more as a district. We need to think about the role of the SROs and whether or not the SROs help us to meet the needs of each student and to reach our district’s goals for teaching and learning. There seems to be some flexibility from the county in terms of how we utilize the financial support for this role. We should have open conversations with our students, parents, teachers, administrators, community members, police, and current SROs to ensure that the role we currently have is helping each student and increasing, rather than decreasing, equity. As we clearly understand the “roles” that SROs can play that help students, we can better decide whether an SRO or a different role in the schools would best meet the needs of each of our students.


We have to be clear about the purpose of school resource officers:  SROs are placed in schools as a part of best practice for community policing.  We know better outcomes across a variety of measures are shown for community members when they have more opportunities to interact with law enforcement in non-law enforcement consequences, such as many of the activities SROs do on a regular basis.

One of the most fundamental priveleges that should come with participation in our society - regardless of documentation status - is the privelege of extraordinary police protection.  We need to be immensely clear with both our SROs and our students about the purpose and role of SROs and I think we are a long way along toward reaching that goal.

I think another unappreciated angle to discussion around SROs is that not all students may come from a background with a home life where they can go home every night and feel safe and secure.  For some students, for too many students, school may be the place they feel safest and the added benefits of having a trained professional in crisis management on site can contribute to the feelings of safety for that particular type of student.  Coming from a place of personal experience, I didn't have any particular relationship with my SRO but I appreciated the effect his presense had for students who most need to feel they have access to extraordinary protection.

I would add that I think the issue of guns in schools, both orthogonally and inextricably linked to the question of the presence and SROs, must be discussed.  I strongly believe our SROs can fulfill their role better without carrying firearms on their person especially in light of the research mentioned and the context they exist in with regard to community policing.  While I look forward to having a more in depth conversation about this with police themselves, I am certainly of the opinion that even with all the benefits of SROs, the threat of lethal force has no place in our schools.

Reports from school leadership indicate that student resource officers make leadership feel more comfortable with the presence of an officer; in light of the number of schools with open campus designs, such as Chapel Hill High School. The District and the towns have Memorandums of Understanding which governs the scope of authority in the middle schools and high schools. These agreements developed bright-line tests for when school administration handles issues and when SROS handle issues. Myself, along with the Board, has instituted a quarterly review of police conduct in the schools to ensure that the police are not handling issues reserved for school administrators and the types of incidents that the police are handling. Currently, I support the presence of police officers in high schools and while we have police officers in the middle school, I would like to revisit the issue in the future.

I believe that the Board, along with myself, have taken many steps to support our undocumented students and families. We want to protect and provide them with a quality education. That means we take particular care with the authority exercised by the SROs. 

Given advances in physical security, advances in security procedures and significant advances in communications technologies over the last two decades, I could support removing fulltime SROs from our schools after taking a detailed look at the issue. What do our principles have to say about it? Do they want SRO’s in the schools, understanding that the financial resources required to make that happen come at the expense of other programs? Can we find ways to mitigate the risk in less expensive ways? I can certainly see the benefit doing so – it frees up officers to police our town. Like most things, the most important factor will be how it is implemented, and assuring that we can mitigate the risk the students down to an acceptable level in other ways. 

Prior to running for school board, I was oblivious to concerns about SROs. It has been an eye opening experience. I had viewed their presence in a positive light. To me, I saw them very much as helpers. I knew them as the folks who direct traffic in the morning and help direct you to where you want to go. After listening in on several community meetings, I came to understand that for some students and families of color, they make the school feel less welcoming. I believe we need to have a continued dialogue between parents and the board and school district staff to address these families' very real concerns.

In attending the combined school board/county commissioner meeting, I was convinced that our district has made a concerted effort to train our SROs in restorative practices and have developed a MOU that specifies their role versus school staff role in discipline, putting school staff on the front line of discipline. I think this is a positive step. But as stated, I think we need to make a concerted effort to help students and families of color feel welcome in this district. I think a panel discussion where they can air their concerns and have them fullly addressed would be a helpful first step. And we need to communicate via posters, ConnectEd messages, and written letters to families to let them know they are welcome and safe in our schools.

School Resource Officers are a valuable school resource.  These professionals work in concert with our administrators and teachers in ensuring the safety of our students and staff.  As we shift our disciplinary focus to more restorative models and continue to build strong school community connections, these public servants can be an important liason and resource. The key in a stong SRO/School/community relationship lies in continuing to be purposeful in making them a part of the entire school community. 

The recent memorandum of understanding between the police departments and the school system has been a helpful step in clarifying when officers are used and, more importantly, when they should not be used.  This clarified that SROs should not play a role in administrative or disciplinary matters and additionally requires that SROs receive additional training so that they are well prepared to work in a school environment. This output resulted from a strong community partnership between CHCCS and the Carrboro and Chapel Hill Police chiefs and we should work hard to maintain this open line of communication.  We have further work to do as a community.  We have to critically evaluate where our practices and procedures unintentionally reinforce the "school to prison pipeline" and continue to have honest community conversations that include our SROs to continue to reduce enforcement in our schools

What ideas do you have for improving teacher morale?

The effectiveness of a teachers is the single most important school-related factor for student learning. Thus, recruiting and retaining excellent teachers is one of the top three challenges I see for our district. Our state currently ranks 35th and is $9,000 below the national average for teacher pay. Our state is also at the bottom of the country for principal pay. While the district is not solely responsible for this challenge, we certainly feel its effects. Our district must continue to emphasize publicly the importance of supporting teachers and principals and ensuring that schools have a culture of continuous improvement.

We must work with local and state governments to ensure adequate funding for school personnel and infrastructure. We must be tireless and creative in cultivating support structures and opportunities that are essential for recruiting and retaining the high-quality administrators, teachers, and staff. Being a district that is known for innovative approaches to personalized learning and trust in educators creates a culture in which teachers and principals want to stay. We must ensure that teachers and principals feel supported to take risks and try new instructional approaches to help students learn. For example, the way that CHCCS and the Public School Foundation work together to support teachers and students, including honoring their work through grants and scholarships, makes a significant impact on teacher morale. Continuing to work with our towns and county for affordable housing can also provide incentives and opportunities that support our teachers.

Teachers become teachers because they want to help students. We need to honor them as professionals and ensure that their working conditions, personalized professional learning opportunities, resources, and supports allow them to help every student reach their potential.


The board took the bold first step of raising our local supplement to teachers’ pay in 2016 by 4%, going a long way to resolving recruitment challenges we were having against neighboring districts.  Retention is highly dependent on quality leadership in each and every building.  I fully support new ideas for improving the skills of our principals, and compensating them appropriately for their leadership. Additionally, I love the work that Superintendent Baldwin did in Asheville creating affordable teacher housing to attract teachers. This is an opportunity for us to partner with others to improve our community.  The push from the superintendent to unleash teacher creativity through making classrooms fun and encouraging risk-taking should also have a positive impact on teacher morale, if teachers and principals embrace this.  It is worth remembering that the board only has one employee, and while we have impact through policies and budget decisions, it is the job of the superintendent to run our schools and meet the needs of all employees.

Last month, we passed a policy to give great teachers a local version of career status.  This additional protection will ensure that they can teach (and share their voice in our policy conversations) without fear of retribution by any principal.

Here are my proposals to improve teacher morale: 

  1. School leadership that works collaboratively and supports teachers with respect 
  2. Quality school leadership that encourages teachers to take instructional risks in support of our students 
  3. Work with Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Orange County to increase affordable housing for teachers
  4. Continue to advocate for competitive compensation for teachers
  5. Provide teacher and staff leadership opportunities, including climate survey and other methods to continue to include teacher and staff perspective in policies and planning
  6. Provide professional development aligned with the needs our district
  7. Adoption of a policy that provides greater tenure for teachers
  8. Professional development to school leadership 
  9. Increased focus on recruitment and retention of quality teachers-starting the recruitment process earlier;
  10. Increased teacher compensation enabling recruitment and retention of quality teachers
  11. Allocated resources to support top teaching assistants in a grow-our-own teacher training program to begin addressing looming teacher shortages
  12. Project Advance – dedicated professional development path

Evidence strongly and repeatedly suggests that high-quality teachers are the single most important factor in student success. We need to keep our skilled teachers in CHCCS if our students are to reach their potential. However, our turnover rate is high, sometimes well above the rates of neighboring counties. From my own classroom experience, discussions with many other CHCCS teachers as well as staff, and conversations at the superintendent’s advisory committee, I believe this is a solvable problem. As a classroom teacher, I certainly understand the multiple sources of frustration that can lead to low morale.  I am excited about the possibilities offered by our new administration. By supporting policies and practices to improve instructional support and two-way communication, we can create a more supportive work environment that not only inspires innovation but also nurtures our teachers and attracts additional talented faculty. 


We could comfortably stand to double teacher salaries and I wouldn't complain about my rising tax rate but I understand that I'm coming from the perspective of a school board candidate.  That said, many of the technocratic policy levers mentioned in other response could be brought into play here as well to free up resources to show our teachers how much we value them.

Of course, we must also look to non-financial forms of compensation:  job security, upward mobility, respected and capable management, livable community, and rewarding work.  I support extending career status to teachers that our living out our values of excellence and equity in classrooms so they can enjoy greater job security.  I support providing opportunities for professional development such as those seen in Project ADVANCE (which gets bonus points for also increasing pay).  I support carefully and thoughtful oversight to ensure our principals are valuing our teachers as much as we all do.  I support working colloboratively with our peers in other government entities and in private industry to make Chapel Hill-Carrboro both an affordable and desirable place to live so that joining our school district can be more than just a job and instead be joining a community.  And I cannot imagine any work more rewarding that education but I will look forward to make policing decisions with the aim of communicating the value of education and those who work in it in mind.

I would like to flush this question out a bit before I could give a truly good answer. Admittedly, I have not seen the district teacher surveys that gives us an idea of why, or if, our teacher morale is low. From my perspective, addressing a pay issue is different from addressing a “freedom to do your job” issue, which is different than feeling a lack of resource support. As a board member, these are the questions I would ask, so that an effective, tailored and targeted response can be drawn up. 

Teacher morale is a huge concern, not just in Chapel Hill Carrboro but statewide due to current political climate that has left teacher pay at 43rd in the nation and principal pay at the bottom. On a state level, we need to continue to advocate for increased teacher pay and support for state university education departments. Locally, our district must continue to provide a competitive salary supplement. We must also ensure they are supported well by strong leaders (principals and central office) and support staff (gifted specialists, autism specialists, program facilitators, etc) to address students' needs. Professional development should be directed at truly increasing their skills and sharing district related initiatives (re: implicit bias, growth mindset,  gifted ed, and special ed) rather than jumping through hoops to prove skills they already have. We should also value teachers as the professionals they are, eliciting their input on district initiatives such as on hybrid classes, equity plans, and improving district communication. We should continue to increase collaboration with community resources such as university students and retirees to help enhance student learning without overburdening teachers. We should also elicit teacher opinion on how they could best be supported. We should also provide more professional development for TAs so that they have a greater capacity to support teachers.

Dear Extremely Thoughtful Candidates -- We are going to pick up the pace soon.  As Shakespeare said, brevity is the soul of wit.


Didn't Shakespeare also say something about the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune?

Notwithstanding the District’s commitment to racial equity,  at a recent community meeting on the topic, there was a noticeable lack of participation from parents and students of color. What will you do to engage parents and students of color in your decision making process and in school district change efforts?

We need to engage parents in other venues and times where they are comfortable, such as churches, community centers, and other locations. We also need to make sure these are practical and effective discussions and not just theoretical discussions on equity. One way to do this is to ensure that every parent receives a positive report about their student at the beginning of the school year and makes sure that all contacts with the parents are welcoming and inviting. 

This requires time! We don’t get paid much (around $3000/year) to be on the school board, but to serve properly means we must make a commitment to spend a lot of time outside of board meetings working with many people in the community. That means attending events (school events, yes, but also many outside groups’ events) where you can meet students, especially those whose parents don’t advocate regularly; meeting with communities where they are to hear concerns of each group (including our refugee families, who can be especially marginalized); and ensuring that you take each comment seriously to understand the impact of board decisions on each and every student and family.  We are not perfect in this, but I am encouraged by Superintendent Baldwin’s commitment to meeting with students -- Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN) students, the Superintendent’s Advisory Council (fully representative group from all high schools), etc.  I am fully committed to continuing to meet with staff, parents, and students on a regular basis so that I do not live in a bubble.  There is no one perfect answer here, but continued focus and effort is what I can do.

In working with districts and schools across the country and our state, I have had the opportunity to see how we might be able to do more to engage with parents IN the community. For some parents coming into school is uncomfortable, or they are not able to get to school at a given time. This does not mean that these parents are not concerned about or involved in their student’s education, but it may mean that we need to think differently. I have seen school leaders and teachers have meetings about a new program or even a check-in about schools at a pizza place in the community or in a neighborhood where many students live. I have seen schools provide tutoring and supports in a community center  where many students could access it after school.

With the homework gap in our district, we could consider partnering with apartment complexes, churches, businesses, or neighborhoods to provide hot spots/Internet access and even devices for kids. This is happening in other districts in NC - including districts with fewer resources. We could look at a program that allows students to bring devices home if they do not have access to one - this can also increase communication with the parents, especially as we use Google classroom, PowerSchool, and email as the primary channels.

The key is that we consider how we can rethink practices just because we’ve always done them a certain way and truly consider and meet the needs of each student. If parents know we sincerely want and use their input, they will continue to share it

The solutions to improving participation by parents and students of color in our decision making processes are both programmatic and personal. 

1. We need to recruit more teachers of color. Kids benefit from seeing role models like them in positions of authority.

2. We need to continue to support programs that bring teachers and school volunteers directly into neighborhoods. A terrific example of this is Read2Me. Building trust begins person-to-person and it means meeting students and families where they are most comfortable as that relationship is built. As connections are made and comfort is developed, parents feel more welcome in our schools and begin to participate in other ways.

3. We need to prioritize culturally responsible curricula, helping kids feel safe. When students feel comfortable at school, parents then feel more comfortable approaching teachers.

It is important to remember that many of the factors that contribute to inequity for our students complicate participation in government.  The degree of injustice at play in our society is gargantuan and, I would believe, the dominating factor effecting participation in Community Assembly.

That said.

We must listen very closely to our communities of color.  Our local NAACP branch not only has fantastic attendance at school board meetings but has also has branch meetings every month that I and many other candidates attend.  We can also pay special heed to other leaders in community, such as by electing community members of color to school boards, county boards, and town councils.  We can read and take seriously the work of journalists of color and especially of those working in the field of education.  And for parents and students specifically, we must find a way to meet them where they are.  It is not the responsiblity of of those most adversely affected by inequality to accept still greater burdens upon themselves, it is the responsibility of those with the resources to run for office to go out into their communities, find the voices that must be heard, and elevate them.  I think one of the most effective ways to elevate our communities of color has been through the model seen in "A Classroom in Color" (http://chccs-news.blogspot.com/2017/06/msan-presentation-classroom-in-co...) and both deepen our commitments to these methods and expand their reach.

We need to continue to work on expanding and improving Parent University which is the district's initiative to enhance parent engagement. I would recommend developing an Equity Advisory Council similar to Special Needs Advisory Council to provide these parents a forum where they can bring their concerns to the district. We should also think creatively in ways we can reach out, such as using text messaging or directly visiting parents in their homes, at athletic events, or the bus stop. We should explicitly communicate about resources such as the Parent Center at Culbreth to make them aware and feel welcome.

 National studies show LGBTQ students are disproportionately likely to be subject to bullying.  https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/10/school-is-still-not-safe-for-lgbt-students/504368/

What ideas do you have to support our LGBTQ students? While you are thinking about your answer, note that there is an NC Safe Schools conference, November 11th https://www.safeschoolsnc.org/

First, they should be treated fairly, as any other students. Secondly, some of the school's GSA/QSA's have held training and sessions with teachers at faculty meetings, and I believe that should continue and that the Board should provide such training to District staff. All schools should be welcoming to LGBTQ+ students, and that is one of the reasons why I support the decision to have gender-neutral bathrooms at schools. All staff should have safe space and inclusion training. Finally, we should create environments where bullying is not tolerated. In the past, I have attended the NC Safe Schools conference and learned about creating safe spaces and how to support our LGBTQ+ students. 

Supporting gender neutral bathrooms, I believe, is a critical step not just to supporting LGBTQ+ students but also toward supporting all students in recognizing the fragility and toxicity of many norms surrounding sex and gender at play in our society and communicating our values as a community on that front.

We should support these students by supporting clubs such as the Gay Straight Allliance. We should enforce antibullying policies for ALL students, including these students. We should provide social thinking curriculum (this is a social skills program but with emphasis on changing thinking rather than strictly teaching a skill) in the early grades that teaches students to be tolerant  and embracing of differences in other students whether it is an issue of LGBQT, color, disability, weight, or other. 

Our schools have to be safe community space for all of our students. My previous experience as a pediatrician, in working with youth from all backgrounds, particularly sensitizes me to the needs of our potentially vulnerable students. CHCCS has been proactive in addressing bullying preventatively by adopting anti-bullying curricula and policies that allow us to address bullying early. Our whole school community benefits from continued education and the building of alliances. We have more work to do. Even though we live in a community that is largely supportive of equality, we have to be careful to continue to look for opportunities to serve these students and work with community organizations that support them as well. I am already registered for the Safe Schools NC conference and looking forward to it. 

Along with Jamezetta Bedford, I was part of the strong push to add gender identity to our non-discrimination policies even before HB2 became national news.  I have also attended the SafeSchoolsNC conference a couple of times to understand how our policies impact not just bullying, but the academic success of our LGBTQ students.  We need to ensure support and resources for our GSA/QSA student clubs in high schools and middle schools to provide safe spaces and allies for students who are still marginalized in our society.  These groups can provide helpful information to all teachers so they can respond appropriately as needed.  Our high schools in particular are full of pressure for all students.  This additional stress is not healthy for our students and we need to offer love and support.  We have the right policies in place, and most of our teachers and administrators are extremely supportive, but our students are still faced with bullying and other unacceptable targeting in our schools -- we must continue to make that stance from the board very clear.

A critical piece of equity is ensuring that each student is able to feel safe in our schools. Creating a culture that respects each individuals, including our LGBQT students, is a very important job of the principal, teachers, and everyone at a school. Our administrators and teachers must model this acceptance and understanding every day - without exception. Teachers and administrators must be willing to engage in discussions about the challenging issues to provide a safe and honest place for students to talk. Honoring the importance of the challenges once again models how we as a community can welcome each student.

We must also appreciate the importance of Social Emotional Learning (SEL). This includes helping students develop their own capacities for relationships, social awareness, responsible decision making, self-management, and self awareness. Research shows that investing and implementing a program that meets the SEL standards can lead to significant gains in achievement. We must as a district ensure that SEL is part of our vision for teaching and learning to support the whole child. Some of our teachers do this very well and create environments that support all students, including LGBQT students. Others may not realize that it is acceptable and even critical to devote time to that aspect of learning. Creating a culture that supports and respects all students is possible - but it must be purposeful and a priority.


I tend to believe negative interactions between students tend to be driven by misunderstanding.  And speaking as high school student even as recent as six years ago, I could've been much better equipped to reach out to my fellow students with understanding had I been taught by teachers that represented the diversity of the student population, had an education around gender and sexuality that was firmly grounded in reality and integrated into a wide range of classes, and role models that modeled understanding of both students and each other.

Ultimately, the most effective way to stop bullying will be through grassroots cultural change which by its very nature the board can not create.  But we can set policy to create the environment in which such change is likely.  I believe working gender studies into curriculum more aggressively as I personally saw it marginally included in my language classes would go a long way toward alleviate the gender anxiety I believe to drive much bullying.  I think in sexual and reproductive education we should be cognizant of educating students to the harmful effects much rhetoric around sexuality has on individuals and communities.  And we must support our educators in being who they are in their professional life.

In a way, Mayoral candidate Eugene Farrar addressed this issue at the board meeting last week. I think he said it best when he said that we need to address the bullying problem in order to support marginalized groups, such as LGBTQA. It starts will creating a district culture that clearly articulates a lack of tolerance for bullying, especially against historically marginalized groups. Coupled with anti-bullying policies at the district level, we need to support our classroom-level personnel in identifying and dealing with this type of behavior. If we loudly proclaim support fo the LGBTQ community without actually addressing the bullying issue then we're really not doing anything of substance. 

Other than the free and reduced lunch program, do you have any ideas for improving the educational outcomes of students from lower-income families?

First, we need to have greater interaction with our families to determine what their needs are and not project what we think their needs are. Second, we need to provide greater opportunities to enrichment programs during the school year and the summer. We also need to provide supports using a student-centered and holistic approach, as is done with the Family Sucess Alliance. Finally, we need to ensure that everyone has access to quality prepare, as data demonstrates makes a difference in overall education. 

This. This engagement starts at the first-line level leaders - our teachers and principles. 

We do see great student learning results with upper-income, white students.  But we are not seeing similar results with other populations.  In fact, we are about average in the state in many measures for our students of color, lower-income students, and students with disabilities. The school board must continue a strong message of our expectations that teachers maintain a laser focus on growth for all students (and above-average growth for those who start out the school year behind).

We must support new ways of delivering instruction, which may include blended learning (a mix of online and face-to-face instruction that emphasizes content mastery), flipped classrooms, and other innovative, culturally responsive instruction that truly reaches all students and pushes them to learning growth every day.

With all that, the district can improve results for all students and meet the expectations of all families who want their students to fulfill their educational potential. And we can’t ignore other issues for our students, most notably their mental health wellness: There is still much work to be done in reducing the pressures in our district.

To that end, this year we hired a System of Care director whose job is to coordinate services for students, especially counseling and social work, but also engaging external mental health providers within our schools as “wraparound” services that will be especially useful for students in poverty who have more trauma and stress in their lives and often lack access to the help they need.

We also can see improved outcomes by ensuring that our teaching staff reflects the diversity of our student population; one recent study showed, for example, the effect that having just one black teacher (which of course is hardly enough) can have on young black males for years to come.

Our teachers know their students best.  We need to learn from the best teachers what they have done that works to reach all students and scale that to the entire district.  I heard years ago about a 4th grade teacher who made it her life to get all students on grade level by the end of the year.  She did it, but it required unsustainable level of effort.  Somebody from central office should have worked with her closely to learn what can be done.

Tutoring is required for all of our students to achieve at the highest level. The dirty secret is that rich families are paying for tutoring every year.  We can and should do more to minimize this need and make it available to all.

I strongly support high quality Pre-K -- our renovation of Lincoln Center will include a world-class Pre-K center to expand opportunities and improve quality for our yongest learners.

Finally, we must support extended learning through better use of time.  This could include longer days (possibly through more after-school) and more summer school options for students who have been unable to catch up.  I have been a strong advocate for the Mayor’s Food for the Summer program to ensure students are not hungry at home.  We also support TABLE so that our students have food over weekends.

We need to increase access to educational opportunities for our low-income students both inside and outside of school. Within our schools, every student in our system needs to feel encouraged and to be effectively supported to learn. Whatever an individual's level of experience and accomplishments to date, he or she needs both access to challenging curricula and support to take on next steps. Significant progress towards this goal will require targeted and coordinated efforts at the teacher, school, district and community levels. As a district, we need to work with our community members and community organizations to support this effort.

I think this starts by providing free high quality public preK. Then we need to think creatively on ways to ensure they are reading and reading well by 3rd grade via enhanced learning opportunities both after school and in the summer. For example, providing after school and/or summer clubs such as scrabble, music, cooking, or book clubs. We can build on programs such as the Food for Summer Program. We need to work with town councils/alders to provide free internet hotspots in public housing or around town. We need to provide access to tutors throughout middle and high schools. Students of higher income are definitely making use of tutors and engaging in educationally enriching summer activities. Lower income students need access to similar opportunities. We also need to support the work of social workers, nurses, and other support staff that help ensure these students can focus on learning.

Thank you, Amy, for highlighting the importance of access to pre-K. As a classroom teacher, I have already seen how having preschool professionals in close communication with elementary school colleagues benefits the outcomes for students. 

We can support students from lower income families by ensuring that students have ACCESS to opportunities that support student growth and learning. This includes understanding that equity is not equal inputs for all and instead that we must understand the needs of each student and provide them with what they need to reach their potential. Some ways to support students and families include:

  • Bridge the homework gap by working with businesses, community, or neighborhood centers (or even a common room/area) to provide Internet access beyond school hours. Some districts work with businesses and provide “We support School District Students” by providing Internet access to them. Some schools also work to expand hours for students who may not have access at home, but can come early or stay late or work during lunch. Some schools also have Internet outside if that increases access.
  • Expand the Food for Summer program to also expand activities for students in the communities served. Currently, volunteers may play with the kids or bring some activities; but it is possible in connection with our service learning or with our towns, we could offer more “camp-like’ or learning opportunities to bridge the Summer Slump and to help students have access to opportunities to continue their learning and engagement.
  • Explore working with the YMCA to expand the Y Learning program currently being implemented at Estes Hills Elementary. This program, from my understanding, provides transportation, activities, and after-school homework and learning support for 24 students from Estes Hills. The Y seems eager to partner wtih our schools, and we could consider other possibilities and partnerships with the Y or other community organizations.
  • Work with the district and community to consider providing devices to students who do not have one at home. This could augment the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) approach in which the district helps bridge the gap for students who may not have one. This not only supports the students in their learning, but also helps families to have access to communicate with schools and to increase their opportunities for jobs or other educational opportunities.
  • Explore programs to expand readiness for schools, including before our students enter Kindergarten - through PreK programs, as well as other opportunities that expand access to learning, language/vocabulary, and social experiences.


I would like to see expansion of the program to include breakfast as well!  I think offering free breakfast and lunch for all students is probably our best bet as I think the economics of it would work out rather nicely, but that is a level of detail for another time.

We must invest in accessible and convenient programs outside of school hours to support both parents and students.  We must reach out to families to ensure they have the resources they need to learn effectively at home, from books to computers to internet access to food to transportation.  We must work with our fellow government entities to continue to fight both the causes and effects of families not having the resources they need to succeed.  We must have mind to teach to the whole student and consider what assumptions we make when planning out education to ensure we aren't setting students up for failure.

This is, in a way, the hardest question because its asking how to alleviate the effects of income inequality in a society that all but worships it and we should recognize both the difficulty of the operation but how many programs we can put in place to make the success of our students more certain.  

Re:  programs outside of school hours, I think it is probably time to have a serious discussion around year round school again.

1. Continue district support of subsidized or free pre-k education for low-income families. Focus this on per-capita income, not other factors. 

2. Consider reducing barriers for programs outside of school and focusing them on academic achievement. One example would be elementary school after-school care. Allow teachers to identify struggling students to after-school care staff and resource our after-school programs with academic support personnel. 

3. Advance / strengthen read-at-home programs for low-income families, such as free book drives and read-to-me style programs. 

At the recent joint school board/Orange County Board of Commissioners meeting, we learned that both Lincoln Center and Chapel Hill High School’s bids have come in over budget. How should we prioritize projects? Do we need a plan B?

Last week, the district opened construction bids for our reconstruction project at the historic Lincoln High School campus that will create a world-class Pre-K center, provide appropriate offices for our administration, and expand Phoenix Academy, including new options for Career and Technical Education for students in that alternative setting.  Based on what we knew when the community approved our bond, we expected a cost of around $225 per square foot.  Instead, due to escalating costs of construction in our region and school construction costs in particular, the bids came in at $288 per square foot.  Extrapolating that out to our Chapel Hill High renovation as well, we now have a $30 million gap in project costs versus funding available.

These projects are both critical for our district.  

Lincoln Pre-K is the starting point for renovating our 6 older elementary schools.  In addition to the increased educational benefits to our Pre-K students and Phoenix students, the extra capacity of 20 classrooms is needed across the district to allow us to renovate other schools with minimal disruption of moving students.  There may be ways to scale back this project, but none that will deliver 100% of the benefits we want for students.

CHHS’s main academic building is simply not salvageable and needs to be replaced to improve student and teacher health and safety.  The reconstruction plan includes additional student capacity (putting off the need for Carrboro High expansion) and is cheaper than building a new high school because we are keeping existing buildings such as the gym/cafeteria and the auditorium.  Working with an existing site and challenging topography will make it difficult to scale back this project and serve the students we are planning to.  

The board’s current plan is to receive more information and spell out many different options.  It is likely we won’t be able to fully formulate a plan until we get construction bids back on Chapel Hill High in the spring.  This greatly increasing cost for construction adds to the urgency for continuing the work across all 10 older sites in our district.  But it also shows our need for a comprehensive plan that the county commissioners (who control our capital funding) are committed to.  Delays in receiving funding to start  this work over the past 6 years have already cost us -- we cannot continue to do nothing while our older facilities suffer and our growing student population increases our need for classrooms.  

"These projects are both critical for our district. "

The rest is just details.

I agree with the Chair here. Realizing the Lincoln Center Pre-K building is really, really important for long-term sustainability with minimal disruption to families. 

We are an education community and a community of values.  If we want to continue to be both, we must move forward the projects and find a way to either fund them or achieve the same goals at a lower cost.

I think the easy answer and the popular answer will be to priotize Chapel Hill, or do what we can with what we have, or take out debt, but none of those options is anything more than mortaging our future by another word.  As a tax payer, I want to be receiveing the highest value I can from dollars and the way to do that is to find a way to move forward with the plan as it stands and, again, play with the budgetry levers we have covered elsewhere to ensure all our existing commitments are met.

We have our values.  We know what we must do.

The Board is going to be looking at all options for both projects. Unfortunately, during the time from when the projects were proposed and when the bond passed, the estimated costs increased. They increased because of the reduction in general contractors and the cost of building schools increased coupled with decreasing state funding. As a Board member, I will evaluate all options to create a Plan B. That includes examining the scope of each project and whether we can secure additional funding. 

At a minimum, we need to renovate both buildings because of age, safety, health, and American Disabilities Act Compliance. We need to renovate Lincoln Center to free up space at the elementary schools to comply with the new state-mandated class size. We need to renovate Chapel Hill High because it has unsafe conditions and does not comply with the spirit of the American Disabilities Act.  

The information shared about increasing construction costs is a very big deal for our district. I believe that we need to have everyone involved - the Orange County BOCC, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro engage with CHCCS to work together to explore and develop a plan forward. We need to tackle this together. Public Schools are the backbone of our community and are critical to our economy - having failing infrastructure and over-crowded schools is a problem for everyone, not just the School Board. We are also not alone in this challenge. Districts across NC (including Orange County Schools that are also a part of the same Bond Referendum) are facing these challenges. What can we learn from how others are approaching this? What can we do together? I believe that all of the municipalities and school districts have a vested interest in figuring this out - and that all involved want a positive outcome.  It may take trade-offs, it may require tough decisions, but having schools and environments that support our students and their learning is critical for CHCCS.

As we reconsider these projects, we should work closely with the facilities department and sustainability coordinator to prioritize needs that directly affect student learning and to take into account energy efficiency and life-cycle costs. It is essential, given limited resources, that our expenditures effectively advance our core goals and educational priorities. 

We always need a plan B – it doesn’t need to be a fully-developed and detailed plan, but we need to have an outline for plan B.


I believe that we need to resource the new district center. This allows us to convert the current Lincoln Center building into a district-wide pre-K building, freeing up valuable space in our elementary schools. This has a cascading affect on all elementary schools across the entire district. Additionally, it has the 2nd order effect of enabling future elementary school growth, reducing the necessarily of significant re-districting based on space availability. As a result, our families are better able to maintain congruence as their children move vertically through the school system, and it increases the probability of students attending the school in their neighborhood instead of being bussed across town due to space issues. 

As James pointed out the construction prices have skyrocketed from $159 per square foot to $288 per square foot in one year. The increased expense came mainly in labor costs. There were only 4 bids and among those 4 bids there were only 2 subcontractors. The recession led to some contractors folding. Now as we come out of the recession, there is large amount of building going on and new building pressures due to hurricanes and need for reconstruction. Being in RTP and being a school district, contractors tend to inflate their costs. In looking on the web, it appears prices have been increasing by about 7% per year, but these latest bids represent a substantially greater rate of inflation (60%!). I don't believe this can continue at this rate and must be related to current construction pressures (post hurricane repairs).  At any rate, it is just impossible to construct both projects at this time as is. We must think creatively. The Lincoln Center project will provide increased capacity by alleviating elementary schools of preschools; thus it is an important project. The Chapel Hill HS project is also quite critical for safety reasons. However, I think we must consider possibly tiered options. For example, completing parts of each project now and other parts later as construction prices ease (such as the later science wing addition at Culbreth). ​

Well, we are out of time for tonight.  If you want to revise your answers, please take the time to do so in the next few minutes.  The thread will be closed at 9:15.  I'm grateful to all of you for your willingness to serve the students and families of this district.  From all of us at OP, thank you for an extremely engaging discussion.

Thanks to OrangePolitics, Barbara Fedders, and my fellow candidates for a lovely evening!

Thank you Orange Politics! Find more information on my website at www.kimforchccs.com.

We are blessed in this community with good choices for your school board.  What sets me apart? I have had the pleasure of serving longer than any other current board member, and yet I am always seeking new ways to conduct our business, not tied to things because “that’s how we’ve always done it.”  From the beginning of my time on the board, I have welcomed any feedback or requests to talk about our schools, at james@barrettforschools.com or my cell phone 919-593-0592.

I want to thank OrangePolitics for providing this forum for a different type of conversation than we get in other forums.  And thanks to Barbara Fedders for her always-tough questions and tactful moderation -- she is a real treasure in our community and one of the reasons why our relationship with juvenile justice looks different here than in other districts.

I bring a deep understanding of and love for our district and our community, along with a great passion for social justice, to my work on the school board.  I can effectively continue that work and continue to improve our schools, close our gaps, and reach all students with a great education with our new superintendent and this board if you re-elect me to one more term.  

Thank you for taking the time to read our thoughts, and please please vote in early voting starting Oct 23 in the district or at your normal polling places on Nov 7th.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my views along with the other candidates! 

As a current Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools Board of Education member, I want to continue the work to close the achievement gap and to maintain excellence in education for all children. I am running to ensure that all students receive the support and the services that they need.  I want to continue the implementation of policies that attract and retain quality teachers. I want to continue to develop a more collaborative and long-term plan for funding to better maintain our schools to avoid the need of cyclical large bonds to repair the schools. Finally, I want to make the District’s policies and communications with our students, parents, and our stakeholders more transparent, understandable, and accessible.


Thank you for the opportunity to share our thoughts!


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