Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’ Future Focus

Tom ForcellaChapel Hill 2020 will offer the special topic presentation “Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’ Future Focus” by Thomas A. Forcella, Superintendent of Schools.

The public is invited to the presentation to be held at 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, in the Council Chamber of Chapel Hill Town Hall. The public event will be aired live on Chapel Hill Government TV-18 and streamed on the Town of Chapel Hill website at http://www.townofchapelhill.org/index.aspx?page=1850

 By Thomas A. Forcella, Superintendent of Schools

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools face both a number of opportunities and challenges as we look to the next decade.

CHCCS has experienced extraordinary growth in enrollment since the 1990s. In recent years, however, the economic recession slowed our growth to about one-third of that seen during our community’s housing boom. Enrollment growth returned to the pre-recession level in 2011-2012, thus creating urgency for the construction of Elementary #11.

Elementary #11 will open in August 2013. Enrollment projections in the district’s Capital Investment Plan currently predict a need for Middle School #5 in 2017, Elementary #12 in 2018 and an additional classroom wing at Carrboro High School in 2020.

CHCCS has a list of properties designated as potential school sites. Those sites include Carolina North, Twin Creeks (near Morris Grove) and the Greene Tract. Available plots of land in the size needed to construct a school are becoming increasingly limited in our community. Once sites on the potential list are exhausted, the district may need to resort to school additions instead of new facilities. Because research tells us that smaller schools are more effective schools, we hope that this will not become necessary. We also continue to struggle with the fact that half of our schools were built prior to 1980 and that the other half of our schools have been built since 1994. Consequently, facility inequity is a problem we hear reported by both parents and staff.

The Chapel Hill and Carrboro communities are frequent users of CHCCS facilities through our facility rental program. In 2010-2011, school facilities were rented more than 2,500 times by over 200 different community groups. CHCCS has also appreciated the opportunity it had this year to host a number of the Chapel Hill 2020 events.

CHCCS will launch its own long-range planning process this spring. The planning process will kick off in March as a daylong event called “The Greenhouse Project: Growing and Thinking Everyday.” The district has extensive plans about facilities and technology, so this new plan will focus exclusively on teaching and learning. We hope that the community involvement and conversation that will take at this event will help CHCCS establish core beliefs and a set of shared themes that will serve as the foundation for our new plan. Our goal is to plant the seeds of a growth mindset in our community so that we understand that effort creates ability and to ensure that staff members possess the skill set needed to teach the Common Core State Standards and the NC Essential Standards during this period of extensive curriculum revision.

CHCCS appreciates this opportunity to be a part of the Town’s visioning activity, and we look forward to sharing more with you in the future about new directions CHCCS will take to meet the needs of all of our community’s children.

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