This is the statement I delivered to the Orange County Board of Commissioners during last night's meeting. The comments are posted here as well as the PTA Council blog.
Good evening. My name is Jeff Hall. I am the President of the Chapel Hill / Carrboro City Schools PTA Council.
Up until a few hours ago, I fully expected to read to you the official statement of the PTA Council, asking you to fully fund the budget request of both CHCCS and Orange County Schools. It is a great statement, with supporting facts and based on talking points that were developed in collaboration with parents, teachers and students across the district. But, you already know that. I emailed it to you a month ago.
But as I thought more about who I was talking to, I decided to change it up.
A couple of weeks ago I was on WCHL talking about the school budget. Aaron Keck asked me where I would start to cut the county budget to free up money for schools. I told him that if I was a County Commissioner I would start by looking for a quiet place to write my resignation. I don’t envy the depth and complexity of the job before you.
I also know that this body has historically shown a serious commitment to education in our community, despite challenges. I know that at the tables in front of me are some of the most talented people in our county, ready to do something positive yet again. But if there is one thought that I could leave you with tonight it is that this year is different.
Things are different in Raleigh.
The ominous warnings we heard from the NCGA at this same time last year have turned into an all-out assault on teachers, on the very concept of free public education. There is no help coming from across the Triangle.
Things are different in our district.The extraordinary measures taken by the school board the last few years have run their course. There is no more fund balance. Grant monies have long been spent. Failure to fully fund schools means people lose jobs and kids lose educational opportunities.
Things are different with our parents.
Look around at the passion in this room. We are tired of seeing our kid’s education become a political chew toy. We are tired of teachers not making a living wage. We are tired of hearing that NEXT year is the year we do something, NEXT year we raise revenue or cut costs, NEXT year we fix old and overcrowded schools.
There is no next year.
We are insisting, demanding, we are begging you to fully fund our schools.
We don’t care how you do it.
Raise taxes. Cut costs. Pull from the county’s fund balance. Again, we don’t care how you do it.
But be like Nike. Just do it.
You were elected to those chairs because we believed in your ability to do this. Because we trusted in your ability to lead.
Now is the time.
THIS is the year.
Fully fund our schools.