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Friday, February 3, 2012

The Future of Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools

Last night I attended the Chapel Hill 2020 meeting called Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’ Future Focus.
The new Superintendent, Dr. Thomas Forcella, was there to present information on short and long term plans for CHCCS, especially building new school sites and implementing the new Common Core State Standards and the NC Essential Standards curriculum. During the public Q&A forum, I asked Dr. Forcella what his plans are to improve the EC (Exceptional Children) Department to ensure that special education services are at least meeting the minimum state and federal legal requirements. I also mentioned some other issues that parents around the district have raised, such as tracking and accountability, teacher and staff training, and developing a comprehensive plan for EC. Dr. Forcella was very frank in admitting that there is currently not a good working model in place for EC. He also discussed embedding teacher training for special needs issues into other training sessions, which I thought was encouraging because it might reduce some of the current cost barriers that are used as an excuse not to train teachers and aides.

At the end of March, Dr. Forcella will be announcing his new initiatives and the long range planning for CHCCS called The Greenhouse Project: Growing and Thinking Every Day. Some of you may have filled out a survey about it in January. There will be an event on March 24th to make the announcement. I will post more details about that when I get them - it says the event is open to community groups by invitation, and it would be great for parents of children with autism to show up in force to keep EC issues front and center. Dr. Forcella said that after the kick off, he will be developing parent focus groups - we definitely want to make sure to get concerned parents from our community into some of those so the needs of our children will be addressed! 

If you want to make your concerns about how ASD students are currently educated in Chapel Hill known before the meeting in March, you can contact Dr. Forcella at 919-967-8211 ext. 28226 or write to him at CHCCS, 750 S. Merritt Mill Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27516.

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