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The Daily Tar Heel

Task Force Tackles Future of School System

The Strategic Task Force for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools slated improvement goals for the next six years.

The meeting featured a brainstorming session by the Strategic Task Force for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools on its goal of developing a six-year blueprint for school development.

The task force outlined goals such as creating state-of-the-art facilities, preventing overcrowding in schools and enhancing the overall educational experience.

Assisted by Neil Shipman, a retired superintendent who relocated to Chapel Hill, the 80-member task force is composed of parents, school district staff and community members.

Orange County Commissioner Alice Gordon attended the meeting and urged the task force to include several key points in their plan for the future of the school system.

Gordon's suggestions included a plan to keep up with school maintenance and renovation, a program for timely construction of a new high school and a system to closely monitor discussions between Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools and the Orange County School District.

She also encouraged community members to lobby commissioners for funding to build a new high school.

Chapel Hill resident Dave Hartzell, the father of a high school freshman, agreed that building a new high school, and thereby planning for growth, should be a top priority for the task force.

But Hartzell also wants to see more parents involved in their child's education. "The school system is very welcoming to parents, but there is still a way to go," he said.

Many task force members said they also want to see students of all groups succeed at higher academic levels.

Alan Omar, a task force member and father of nine, said "the school system has done (my children) well."

Omar also said it is important to bridge the gap between students who perform well and students who do not.

Omar said this includes finding a solution to the existing minority gap.

While the ideas brought up by the task force widely were accepted, some task force members questioned the feasibility of reaching such goals.

Issues of continuing community growth, teacher shortages, cost and a sharp increase in local cultural diversity all were seen as challenges facing the school district in years to come.

Wednesday's meeting marked an early step in the process of developing a six-year plan for Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools. The task force is scheduled to present a preliminary plan to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education at its annual planning meeting in February.

The task force will meet again at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 11 at East Chapel Hill High School, and Omar encouraged local community members to attend.

"I think it's good to engage more people," he said. "This way, other people can learn about the process and get involved."

The City Editor can be reached at citydesk@unc.edu.

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