School is out for summer, but big things are happening in CHCCS over the break! Image via Lainey's Life Lesons.
1. The Orange County Commissioners agreed to increase the special school tax for CHCCS by 2 cents to help fund the 2013-14 school budget. I attended one of the public hearings on the county budget, and something happened that I never imagined witnessing: person after person stood up and asked the county to increase their taxes. The strong commitment to education in our community is impressive. The increase will generate about $2 million dollars for CHCCS, which is critical in offsetting the cuts to education coming down from the NC General Assembly. This does not affect Orange County schools, who do not have a special school tax. One of the highlights of the proposed 2013-14 budget is an increase in funds for professional development, something which we definitely applaud. There are also expansions planned for the EC Department, particularly within Pre-K.
2. In case you had not heard, the Executive Director of the CHCCS EC Department (Exceptional Children, aka special education), has resigned. A nationwide search is underway for her replacement, and interviews are happening right now. At the last SNAC meeting of the school year in June, representatives from the district explained the comprehensive interview process, and members of the school board in attendance emphasized that the new director can expect strong support for the EC Department from the Board of Education (B of E). Superintendent Dr. Forcella also stated that they are committed to finding the right person for the job, and if they do not feel they found that individual during this round of interviews, they will re-open the search. We hope that the new EC Director will be as committed to implementing much-needed changes in our district as Dr. Forcella is.
3. Last, but definitely not least, the EC audit has been completed. Earlier in the year, Dr. Forcella hired an independent company called Futures Education to come in to CHCCS and conduct a thorough review of the EC Department (hopefully you all received the parent survey!). Although the company's website emphasizes reducing costs in special education, the Board of Education has been clear that is not the area that have asked Futures to focus on in the case of CHCCS. The completed audit is being reviewed by the district, and then it will be presented to the B of E. At that point, the results will become public. We will be sure to share them with you when they become available - it should be interesting!
Fireworks over the Atlantic Ocean. Photo taken on our trip to Camden, Maine last summer.