Forum Open Thread: Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board

Welcome, everyone! This page is an open thread for conversation about the live Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board candidate forum. While the candidates debate the issues on the forum page, post your own thoughts and reactions here. You can even continue to propose topics here during the forum or by contacting the editors via Twitter, Facebook, or the contact page.




Kirk and the OP editors are assembling at forum HQ in Carrboro. We're looking forward to a good chat with the candidates this evening--hopefully without any serious kinks in this first-ever OP forum.

This ought to be fun!  I hope we have full participation from the candidates tonight. I haven't been able to make it to a school board forum yet so I'm looking forward to hearing from everyone.

Kirk, Will the page just continue or will I need to refresh? Good luck to everyone. This should be very interesting? 

Penny,The forum page itself will refresh automatically every 2 minutes. You can also refresh it manually using the handy "refresh" button.However, this open thread will not refresh automatically. It's just like a normal OP page.

Just had to say that.Back to work. whomever came up with the "sameness" question. I remember feeling cheated years ago back in high school when other students in my district at different schools had courses and opportunities I didn't.  I suppose I could have always petitioned to go to a different school that better matched my interests, though it probably would have been too much of a hardship for our family, especially until I got my drivers license. But I'm also sure that I would not have wanted students at other schools to be denied an opportunity just because it wasn't available to me.

Exactly, Jason.  The school board hears this type of complaint frequently.  

I posted this response to Jason.  Mike Kelley

That idea came from Kirk, I love how you could really see it made the candidates think. Almost all took over 10 minutes to compose a response.

Technical glitch.  Less than a minute to conceive a response.  

...waiting to read about the School Board Candidates' take with the OP Forum later-when they've had time to reflect on the two hour process and when they are not under the 10 minute time constraint.

10 minutes sounds like a lot until you try to think through and type and edit and maybe even read other people's responses.  It was just as stressful as in person forums, where you know you have some forgiveness in phrasing exactly right.  But, as some answers indicated, being prepared is great, even if you have to tweak the answers.  Saves time you can use for other thinking.Also, make sure you test how you're going to post before you do it.  I was editing in a Google doc before posting here and realized the formatting was different so I needed to copy to a text editor as an interim step.  Preview was a useful tool before final posting of comments.

One last point on the process -- looking back on my answers, it looks like I lost paragraph breaks at several points (and others had even worse formatting issues).  Make sure whatever process you use has a good-looking end result, because there's no time to clean it up.  And I'm not happy with how mine look.

Preview is the key. We will recommend that (and composing in plain text) to the candidates in our next forums.

Good points, James. Acknowledgement to the text editor-or notepad- whichever is most convenient,a reliable machine and internet connection. 

It was really hard to see responses that candidates/Kirk posted to each other (and thus reply during the forum).  I'd recommend either having someone monitor for things that need responding to for you, or play with the comment viewing options on the page so that you can easily see new things even if they are comments from previous questions. 


I think that was fantastic. I had a great time reading those very thoughtful replies to Kirk and to each other. I want to think the school board candidates for being our guinea pigs in this experiment in democracy - especially James Barrett who proposed the online forums at an OP Posse (  meeting a few months ago. I also want to thank the rest of the editors, especially Damon Seils who took the lead on making this happen. (In fact, I'm not even in NC at the moment, that shows the great leadership and effort by the other editors.) And of course the amazingly talented moderator Kirk Ross, who brings decades of local knowledge, perfect political pitch, great humor, and a lot of enthusiam to the forums.I can't wait for Carrboro (10/17) and Chapel Hill (10/23). Suggest your questions at 

That was quite something. Looking forward to the next one.

I didn't have time to fully absorb during the event, but appreciate all you did to prepare great questions.

Shaping-up to be a busy month on OP!

Oh also: next year we might not bother writing press releases about our forums and sending them to local media organizations. I couldn't even tell if anyone read them. What a waste of time. 

I adore the cutline on the photo at the top of the story

And the "CYBERSPACE" dateline. Ha.

I thought it was funny, but also a cop-out. It's not like you can't take a picture of a website or the people who read and write it. (BTW, I had missed the story because I'm out of town with my family.) 

I spoke with Greg Childress the other day -- he tried to push back on Herald's reduction in coverage of school board and BoCC meetings, but to no avail.  I was extremely disappointed even the last in-person forum didn't get much coverage.  The DTH did a fairly useless article, but nobody else did (including CHL who played the audio for 2 hours a day later, but couldn't do a 30 second story) .I don't understand what's up at the CH News.  They did interviews with all of us, but why no coverage of other events?

James, are you really surprised at the paucity of coverage by the local print news media?  According to an article by L. Gordon Crovitz in today's Wall Street Journal, Steve Jobs predicted in a 2006 interview with him that there would be no more printed newspapers in five years.  Although Jobs' prediction did not come true in the time frame given, I doubt that there are many out there who would dispute the suggestion that Jobs didn't miss the mark by very much.  When our local newspapers are getting so thin that the carriers are soon going to need to put a rock in the plastic bag to keep them from blowing away we can be sure that Jobs prediction will soon enough become a reality.


I'm a big fan of this process.  I couldn't be on when it was going on, but I left a question in advance, and I got to read everyones responses, and see what the candidates said about many different issues.This definitely helped me clarify which way I'm leaning towards voting.Thanks to everyone who made this happen by facilitating or participating in the forum! 

Thanks to OP for hosting this forum. The questions were very thoughtful and it was cool to be able to make comments on other candidates' replies.  It took me a while to remember to hit "reply" instead of commenting in the regular place so I lost some text at the beginning but that made the answers I finally gave more pithy.  I especially appreciate the Editors coping with my cut and paste goobledygook since I didn't have the time to learn something new while also thinking about the questions.   

Thanks to Kirk and his backup team. I had Twitter going as well as e-mails and loved when Tom Greene, ex CHHS Civis teacher, commented. Thanks......

Very well executed and I appreciated that the time allotted gave candidates time to think about and share meaningful answers.  I'm looking forward to our council candidates' forum in two weeks.

As a newbie to all this live blogging, I would like to say THANKS! for the opportunity and being patient with me!  It was actually kind of fun!  The two hours went incredibly fast!!! Thanks for your help Damon and setting me straight on teh tech stuff.  What a great team and event.Kris Castellano

re: I'll take simplistic over lack of progress any day.  Who in Lincoln Center is accountable for the lack of results over the past many years?  Who on the school board is?  I've been told of an example in our district where a teacher got all her kids to proficiency.  What she did isn't sustainable, but who is asking her what she did so we can learn what does work in our district and apply it?   

Thanks to OP for hosting this forum.  I hope the discussion will be helpful to the electorate.  It would be interesting to hear from those who were reading (and read in the future) what you think.  I know all of my answers could be expanded or clarified if something is not clear or does not ring true.  It appears the format allowed some time for back and forth among candidates but near the end I got out of synch with Kirk's timing on the questions.  It might be less stressful on my reload key if the amount of time for a given quesiton is provided with the question so participatants know when to look for the next question (and stop trying to read and react to the comments of others).  The technical stuff.  Yes, you really do need to hit the reply button and not the new comment.  I did this correctly the first couple questions and then started to hit the new comment in the heat of discussion.  Thanks to the OP team for cleaning this up.  Agree that you have to use a plain text editor and not Word; that should be made known to participants.   Lastly, I think it is worth commenting that an online, live forum such as this in some ways may present candidates differentially for reasons beyond their control.  Annetta Streater seems to have dropped from the forum for the last two questions, for example (Jamezetta Bedford from the last one apparently).  Is this because some of us have better computer resources than others?  One candidate had seen one of the questions in advance of the forum.  If (possible) questions are posted publicly in advance, perhaps they should be sent to all candidates.  One candidate posted a closing statement; if closing statements are to be accepted, then all candidates should be invited to prepare one in advance.  Just some things to think about so each candidate has an equal playing field in future forums.  Mike Kelley 

Thanks to OP for hosting an online forum. I appreciate the opp to engage with stakeholders in a variety of formats and venues. While my first time blogging, I can say I appreciate the learning experience.I am frustrated and saddened that I lost the opp to post my response to the last two questions. I thought I was still online. I didn't know that my login would time out or that the forum would end sharply at 9:05 with a logout.I spent over 15 min typing one of the most thoughtful responses to the 'gap' question I'd ever written. I truly exemplied my growth and understanding of the issue since being appointed to the board in 2006. I did click 'post/submit comment' but it didn't post.....I guess because the forum ended and/or my login timed out. I can't confirm if it was computer problems or deficiencies. Ross, your directions weren't clear to me about 'reply' vs. comment. I also missed the opp to the opp to answer the last question because I spent several minutes just trying to find the last question. Couple that with the frantic search for my gap essay,...SMH Personally I had no time to go back and forth with the other candidates. I would consider posting all of the selected questions at the start of the forum. Then candidates can use the 2 hours to post in whatever order they choose. To be inclusive and offer the opp for public input of questions, allow a set time to post questions, you review them , then you select them. If should decide to continue with the same format for the next forum, I suggest you clearly number the questions so we can better keep up with  what we've answered. The fact that you were adding your personal comments separate from the questions also made it tough to find the questions. Could just be my inexperience. I sure hope this won't be viewed as a criteria for re-election. SMS Thanks,A 

Thanks, Annetta. Your feedback is helpful.

I tried to give it about ten minutes for each question with a little leeway for the longer ones.Most of the questions were mine and no one — not even Ruby — saw those in advance. There were a couple of questions based on ideas raised by OP readers in previous threads asking what we should ask.Got a note from Annetta about the forum being closed before she could file her answers on the last two and I passed that on to the OP Editors. At the very least I think anyone who wants to add to their comments or post ones they couldn't by the time the forum closed should do so on this discussion.Thanks to all the candidates for giving it a go.

Thanks for your thoughtful feedback, Mike. I do want to make clear that we did not provide any candidates with advance knowledge of the questions. Some readers suggested questions publicly on OP, including the question about bullying. A version of that one ended up on Kirk's final list. 

Please, everyone, keep sharing your feedback about the forum's problems and successes. It's fitting that our first forum featured candidates for the school board; we've learned a lot already about how to approach the next forum.Many thanks to the candidates for helping us try this out. If any of your comments didn't make it into the forum, we encourage you to keep the conversation going here. 

You are perceived as 'innovative' and I am perceived as......I'll post my responses soon. Going to bed A 

Thanks for organizing this forum, and to the candidates for being guinea pigs for this new format. 

Now that the forum is over, would it be possible to turn off the auto-refresh? Reading it is a bit frustrating when I have to scroll back down to where I was every 2 minutes. 

Also, I'd love to read answers from Annetta or others who got cut off before they got time to post them. Would it be possible to let them add those to the forum thread instead of here?



Ditto on ditching the auto-refresh, unless there's some way to make it auto-return to where I was in the thread after the refresh.  Thanks.

Please remove the auto-refresh so the frozen forum can be read in peace....

I have to delve into the guts of the site a bit to disable (or enable) this, and I just got back from a very busy trip out of town. I will try to do this as soon as I can. 

The director of the Orange County Board of Elections sent out this email today to the candidates in the school board election.  The school board election will be pick five of eight with fifth place getting the 2 year term.  Mike Kelley  Good afternoon School Board Candidates, I wanted to inform you that the Board of Elections was notified by a staff attorney with the General Assembly yesterday around 5:00 p.m. that the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Board of Education contest vacated by Joe Green was listed incorrectly on the ballot.  The 2-year unexpired term was listed separately with one unopposed candidate.  A local bill enacted in 1975 states that “That if any election for members of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Board of Education vacancies have occurred and there are both regular four-year terms and two-year unexpired terms to be filled by election, the candidates elected with the greatest numbers of votes shall be elected for regular four-year terms, and the candidates elected with the lowest numbers of votes shall be elected to fill the remainder of the unexpired terms.” My office and obviously others were not aware of this unique act pertaining to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Board of Education until yesterday afternoon.  We have already corrected our sample ballots which are posted on our website under “Revised Sample Ballots.  Fortunately, our election day ballots have not been printed yet.  Twenty absentee ballots were mailed containing the school board contest.  We have already contacted all but 2 absentee voters to inform them that they will be receiving a new ballot with the school board contest merged.  All absentee ballots emailed overseas have already received their corrected ballot.  I apologize for any inconvenience or confusion that this may have caused.  I can assure you we are taking every action to correct this matter and will do anything I can to ensure voters are aware that for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Board of Education contest that voters have a choice of voting for FIVE candidates whose names will be listed in alphabetical order.  I have already spoken to the News and Observer, WCHL and the Indy.  Please contact me if I can provide any additional information at this time. Tracy Reams, DirectorOrange County Board of ElectionsP.O. Box 220Hillsborough, NC   27278919-245-2351

As a fellow incumbent CHCCS School Board member, I am proud of Jamezetta's honest and upbeat attitude towards this situation. I've
learned a lot from her during our service together particularly about transparency. The grace she is
exhibiting now is one more example of how to serve well. Go
Jamezetta!!!  Good summary of the story here:  


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