Last night, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners met with the school boards of Orange County Schools and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools for a joint meeting and work session that discussed budgets for both districts and position appointments.
- CHCCS and OCS presented their budget requests and information about public school funding needs.
- CHCCS’s proposed budget focused on continuation, expansion and school-level requests.
- The board requested a 4 percent increase in salaries, which would cost $1,855,000.
- The board also requested $50,000 for fees pertaining to obtaining and renewing teacher licenses, as well as $420,000 for parental leave extensions.
- “Unfortunately with over 5,000 teacher vacancies across the state of North Carolina — which has the potential to impact minimally about 100,000 students — and significant enrollment declines and teacher preparation programs, schools have a teacher shortage crisis that puts the success of our students at extreme risk,” Rani Dasi, the CHCCS board chairperson, said.
- Nyah Hamlett, the CHCCS superintendent, said that 67 certified positions, 53 classified positions and four administrations were open.
- OCS requested a total increase of $10,054,600 for this year’s budget, an increase of $1,256 per student.
- “Our focus is really on increased funding and benefits to our staff, incentives for hard-to-fill positions, increased support for our students and opportunities and support as we still are, mentioned earlier, trying to catch up even though our population has reduced,” Will Atherton, the OCS board chairperson, said.
- Ronda Rath, the chief finance officer for OCS, said that the primary concerns for students are multi-language provisions and additional needs-based services.
- On average, one to two pre-K students are placed in additional specialized services each week.
- OCS exceeds the state funding cap each year and requires more local resources.
- Languages spoken in addition to English in the household also increased, with 33 different languages in the 2021-22 school year and 40 languages this year.
- Rates for students qualifying for free and reduced-price meals rose from 36 percent to 49 percent over the COVID-19 pandemic.
- “The schools we imagine from two years ago, five years ago, 10 or more years ago, they are never coming back,” Monique Felder, OCS superintendent, said. ”We are here to serve the children we have today and prepare them for tomorrow.”
What decisions were made?
- After the school boards presented their budgets, various appointments to Orange County positions and committees were approved by the BOCC.
- Edward Witkin was reappointed as a member of the Carrboro Northern Transition Area Advisory Committee.
- Alice Armstrong was reappointed to her position on the Chapel Hill Parks, Greenways and Recreation Commission.
- Because only one applicant was considered, the BOCC decided to delay a vote on the Chapel Hill Planning Commission position.
- Steven Peck was reappointed for another year-long term with the Orange County Historic Preservation Commission.
- Some of the other positions approved included a member of the Orange County Housing Authority Board and Orange Unified Transportation Board.
- The appointment of the Carrboro Board of Adjustment has been postponed until May 9 and the second at-large Orange County Housing Authority Board will be decided June 1.
- The next BOCC meeting will be on May 2 at 7 p.m. at the Whitted Building in Hillsborough.