ADVOCACY

SAFEGUARD FUNDING FOR OUR SCHOOLS

SUPPORT OUR TEACHERS

We need your help. Our schools in Chapel Hill are facing a grave budget shortfall next year.  At the same time, teachers in North Carolina are among the most poorly paid in the nation, with recruitment, morale and retention suffering very badly.

Parent voices can make a difference.  But we need you to act.  Please join the Glenwood PTA, and the PTAs of all Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools, in our two District-wide campaigns to safeguard funding our schools and support our teachers.

CHAPEL HILL SCHOOLS BUDGET SHORTFALL – the issues

Nearly half of the funding for our local schools comes from the State. Although NC has been growing rapidly, State funding for public schools in NC is now $500m lower than it was in 2008. We now rank 46th in the nation in per-capita education dollars.

·       The other half of our school funding comes locally (town and county), through direct funding and through taxes.  Our community and our County Commissioners have, in the past, been extremely supportive of our schools by ensuring strong, local funding.

·       Our School District has used up its rainy day funds and faces a $3.3 million budget shortfall for next year 

·       The District is requesting that the Orange County Commissioners meet this shortfall.

·       If this funding request is not met, significant cuts will have to be made to local school budgets. Outcomes could include the elimination of Teacher Assistants, bigger class sizes, cuts to the Gifted program. There will be even less funding for teacher development, supplies and extra curricula activities than there is now. As parents we will also see many more requests to help provide essential classroom items and other help.

·       The County takes its budget decision on June 12.

The PTA request:

Please join us in helping convince the County Commissioners to commit to our community by meeting the education budget shortfall. The Commissioners have shown strong support for our schools in the past: we ask that they continue to do so, and that they find ways to meet the shortfall through budget re-prioritization, spending cuts in other areas, revenue adjustments or a combination. 

The two things we are asking you to do:

1.     Contact the County Commissioners ahead of their budget decision on June 12 and ask them to fund the shortfall – they can be reached at ocbocc@orangecountync.gov Talking points are provided below 

2.     Come to the May 29 meeting of the County Commissioners here in Chapel Hill, from 7pm – 10pm at the Southern Human Services Center, 2501 Homestead Rd.  This is a County Budget Public Hearing session, and provides an opportunity for parents to speak during the public comment section at the start. Even if you do not speak, your presence sends a strong signal that you care about protecting our school budgets.

Talking points, and additional information

If you contact the County Commissioners, please write something personal. Tell them how important education is to you, and to our community, and what it means to your child. Tell them of impact you already notice from reduced funds. Thank the Commissioners for their public service during such a tough fiscal time.  Commend the quality of public education in our town. But ask that they 'hold the line' on funding.

We have created some talking points you can use, but nothing has more impact than a personal message.

Some talking points for consideration:

1.  Our community is proud of our public schools

People move here because of our great schools. The quality of public education here encourages families into making a long-term investment and commitment to this community. If our schools stop being the best in the state and people see less reason to stay, it will be our whole community that suffers.

2. Quality schools build value

Our property values are high in Orange County because our schools are great. Our property taxes drive the county’s budget and services. Keeping schools great is in the financial interest of the community.

3.  Our teachers are struggling; cuts will make it worse

Our teachers are already poorly paid and under significant pressure. Cuts to teacher assistants and other classroom based services, increases in class sizes, and a reduction in opportunities for professional development asks them to do even more with even less.

4. There is no room for maneuver

The District used its 'rainy day' fund in the past to hold the line on cuts, but that reserve is gone. There is no more “fat” to cut from the schools budget.  Our schools need this essential support or public education in our District is in jeopardy.

 

Additional information:

  • Advocacy resources and additional talking points put together by the CHCCS PTA Council (made up of PTA representatives from across all schools in the District) can be found on the PTA Council Website
  • Here is a link to a video explaining how the budget is developed.
  • Information on the role of the County Commission, its membership, and important upcoming meeting dates can be found on the Board of Orange County Commissioners site
  • The Chapel Hill Schools Budget, and statements by the District on the shortfall can be found on the "budget section" of the District's website 

Thank you for taking the time to raise your voice on this important issue for our schools.


TEACHER PAY IN NORTH CAROLINA – some of the issues:

 ·       In 2008, North Carolina ranked 25th in the nation for average teacher pay. Only six years later we now rank 46th for average salary, and 48th for starting teacher salaries.

·       Our state is the worst in the nation for growth in teacher pay over the past decade. In the past five years, NC teachers have received only one raise, of 1.2% in 2012.

·       Other changes at the state level are also unprecedented. In 2013, the NC State General Assembly passed a series of measures that i) remove an increase in salary for teachers who earn a Master's degree, ii) eliminate a cap on class sizes in schools, and iii) replace teacher tenure with a merit-based system that offers (only) the top 25% of teachers a $500 year pay raise for opting out of tenure. (There are no unions or guaranteed jobs in NC - tenure in these circumstances means the right to due process).

·       All of these measures have combined to create a crisis for teachers in our state. Approximately 2 out of every 3 teachers works outside the classroom to make ends meet, and the number of teachers leaving the profession is accelerating. Freshman enrollment in education schools in NC is down by up to 40% at some colleges.

·       A survey conducted in March 2014 shows that well over 90% of North Carolina’s citizens disagreed with the decision to not increase teacher salaries in 2013 for the fourth time in five years, and the same high numbers believe that raising teacher pay should be a priority. This is a nonpartisan issue that is about the future of North Carolina. 

The PTA request:

Please join us in asking state leaders in Raleigh to raise teacher pay to the national average.

The two things we are asking you to do:

1.     Contact our representatives in Raleigh to ask that they raise teacher pay. For the NC House of Representatives that is Graig Meyer (graig.meyer@ncleg.net) and Verla Insko (verla.insko@ncleg.net). For the NC Senate, that is Valerie Foushee, (valerie.foushee@ncleg.net). Talking points are provided overleaf.

2.     Consider signing up with us <need an email address> to come to Raleigh with us, and show the General Assembly that parents care about education in North Carolina. Depending on interest, we will organize one visit between May 14th and June 11th, when the Assembly is next in session.

SUPPORT OUR TEACHERS – Talking points, and additional information

If you write to our representatives in Raleigh, please write something personal and use examples drawn from your own experience. Tell them how important your child's teachers are to their education, and what a good job they do under difficult circumstances.  Thank our lawmakers for their service and ask for their consideration. But be clear that we need to pay our dedicated and much loved teaching professionals a fair wage, and that the future of North Carolina depends on it.

The CHCCS PTA Council (made up of PTA representatives from across all schools in the District) have created some talking points for consideration, below – but remember: the most effective stories are personal stories.

1. North Carolina teachers are losing ground.

According to the National Association of Educators, the average public school teacher’s salary in North Carolina dropped 15.7% from 2001-2012. This drop meant that North Carolina was 51st (meaning: all 50 states and DC) in the country in the growth of teacher pay during that decade. While no one enters the teaching profession to get rich, the contraction of their pay combined with an increase in student testing, accountability and expectations has combined to leave our teachers’ professionalism questioned and their calling under assault.

2. North Carolina teachers are leaving.

The best and brightest teachers are leaving the state at an alarming rate for better paying opportunities in neighboring states or outside of their chosen profession. Teachers can not afford to financially support themselves or their families. Entire websites Entire website have sprung up filled with their stories. The loss of these dedicated and talented professionals negatively affects our students and the future development of our state.

3. We have turned from our legacy.

North Carolina has a proud heritage as the “Education State.” Leaders like Bill Friday, Jim Hunt and James Holshouser helped to make the Old North State a dynamic leader in education at all levels. We have turned our back on the legacy of these and other state and local leaders who built the most enviable public education system in the South. Our children, our communities and our state deserve a restoration of that legacy. And that begins with paying a fair wage to our dedicated teaching professionals.

Additional resources and information:

Thank you for taking the time to speak up in support of our teachers.

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Glenwood PTA,
Nov 24, 2013, 1:29 PM
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