At a work session on Thursday, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education heard concerns over a proposal to begin elementary schools earlier than the current start time and an update on the district's finances.
- Some teachers and parents strongly opposed the proposal for an earlier elementary school start time. The proposal's goal was to help alleviate the bus driver shortage.
- Northside Elementary School educator Molly Biek said the teachers' hard work is not apparent to district policymakers. Biek said teachers spend a great deal of time working on the ground to implement the district’s policy priorities.
- Several parents expressed concern that earlier start times would mean that their children would be less ready to learn early in the morning. They said children will need to eat breakfast and be mentally and emotionally ready to attend school earlier than usual.
- Many parents expressed concern about their children waiting for the bus in the dark and the impact of sleep deprivation on young children.
- Sally Johnson, a teacher at McDougle Elementary, expressed concern that the proposed change would lead to a loss of experienced teachers.
- “I sincerely hope that the district will prioritize a solution that is sustainable and actually addresses the problem at hand rather than putting a Band-Aid on it,” Johnson said.
- Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Scott presented the superintendent's recommended budget request for the fiscal year 2023 to 2024.
- The estimated increase in salaries was reduced from five percent to four percent, and there will be a five percent inflationary increase to all non-salary allocations. Scott stated that the current unassigned fund balance is $5 million, which is just 0.35 percent above the county's minimum target.
- The district's budget continuation need totaled over $8.4 million.
- Scott announced a two percent local supplement increase for certified staff salaries and allocated $35,000 per year towards covering teacher license fees.
- Board member Riza Jenkins expressed support for providing funds for licensing, saying many employers in various industries offer this benefit.
- “If you were required to have a license to do your job, typically employers do that,” Jenkins said.
- Deputy Superintendent of Operations Al Ciarochi presented the capital investment plan for the fiscal years 2024 to 2034. The plan will focus on the first three years. The guiding principles include safety, improving technology and racial equity.
- Proposed projects include asphalt replacement, LED lighting replacements, playground equipment and the replacement of old interior furniture.
- A facility assessment was also discussed, with a focus on deciding where schools rank when it comes to cost of replacement.
- Carrboro ES, Ephesus ES, Estes Hills ES, Glenwood ES, and Seawell ES (FCI’s 40% or greater) are leading candidates for significant replacements of portions of campus.
- Carrboro and Ephesus Elementary Schools are two leading candidates for facility replacements and renovation.
- Board member Deon Temne said he appreciated the work that went into developing the plan over the past three years.
- “When we first started three years ago, this is kind of what I was asking for, just to get my head around all of the pieces. What type of schedule, calendar, how are we gonna move forward?” Temne said.
- The CHCCS Board of Education will meet again on March 16 at 6 p.m.
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