Carrboro: The New Jackson Hole, WY

According to the N & O, the future vice president of the U.S. might have his home away from Washington in... drum roll please... Carrboro.

"The candidate and his wife Elizabeth Edwards bought 102 acres of land four miles west of Chapel Hill on Old Greensboro Road June 24 for $1,316,500."

Lots of questions arise here. I mean, are we going to start seeing Secret Service agents infiltrating Weaver Street Market's Thursday night music night just before the Edward's family arrives for their tempeh burgers? And are the Edwards children going to be hula-hooping on the lawn?

And the big question.... can they really shut down Horace Williams airport if the vice president needs it to commute to DC?





Does the pressure need ot be put on our Democratic Governor? I would contend that it's the LEGISLATURE that isholding things up for the poorer school systems in the state. And I think at least ONE judge agrees with me! See this article:

According to another news source:

"Governor Easley hinted yesterday he may step in to deliver the money court rulings require to make sure that every child is entitled to a good, basic education.

Easley says in a letter to departing state Superintendent Mike Ward that he's looking into ways to provide the needed funding under his own budget authority." You can read the article in it's entirety at :

ANd, for the record--I agree with "I love Johnny E"--I think Senator Edwards was probably reffering to the schools Down East and out in the mountains that can't afford text books, let alone AP classes. The schools that prompted the state school board to REQUIRE that ALL children take four years of math in HS--so that all the schools would offer SOME higher math.


He used East-West partners to broker the deal--big whop-de-do. The man HAS been busy. Long article in BOTH papers this morning--the family sold to Edwards because they wanted the land to stay in one piece and NOT get carved up into a subdivision. My guess is that the Edwards' will put a house in the middle of the property and be done with it. If I could afford 100 acres I would--except that I've sworn to NEVER live with septic and well again. EVER. Guess that means I'll be living in a city from now on!


I don't know if ya'll are watching the Democratic Convention, but I think Senator Edwards just told us where he stands on the merger:

"There are two public school systems...but it doesn't have to be that way...we can build one school system for all our children."

I guess that settles it...

Except that he made sure he bought his land in the CHCCS district...

Don't get me wrong - I love Johnny E..

I don't think he's thinking of the #1 and #4 locally funded schools in NC...

Maybe he's thinking of the 113 other school systems with lower local funding... or maybe he's thinking of the county that the court mandated the state to provide more funds for a basic education...That our Dem. Governor and Dem. Chair of the State board of ed. run....

How 'bout putting some pressure on our democratic governor to spend more money state wide for ALL schools not just yours...

Edwards also said that it was important to make sure that every kid had a safe place to go after school. The Edwards family has put their money and influence into making that a reality at Broughton High School in Raleigh by creating the Wade Edwards Learning lab: While the kids at Broughton aren't needy, many leave school to go to an empty home, others need a place to get help with homework. At one time, there was a plan to expand this center to Goldston High School but I didn't find a reference to it today in my web search.

The most interesting fact about the Edwards purchase is that the mailbox listed for Edwards is at East-West Partners. I was roundly derided for suggesting that the local development & business community may have had some influence in the commissioner elections and learned that most of the local pundits think it is uncivil & naive to make such an assertion. Now I realize that this East-West/Edwards connection is probably just an inconsequential arrangement between a few nice people who just want to serve the public, but at least we know there is a connection.

On the White Cross/CH Schools merger suggestion - we are just as much a bunch of bumpkins out here as anywhere else in the county....

> I'm hoping it will be at least 8 years before the Edwards' take up residence.

Me too, but I don't think Horace Williams airport can handle "Air Force Two" -- it's a 747, I think.

When Cheney or whoever flies into RDU, they shut down I-40 from the ariport to wherever he's going -- both directions. Fortunately for Orange Co. residents, they almost always go east, so we don't get caught in traffic jams. But if this is to become Johnny's "home away from Washington" -- and I got that impression from the Herald-Sun today -- well, I don't think we can get the TTA train line extended to Chapel Hill fast enough to avoid a big mess every time the veep needs a vacation.

The most interesting fact about the Edwards purchase is that the mailbox listed for Edwards is at East-West Partners. I was roundly derided for suggesting that the local development & business community may have had some influence in the commissioner elections and learned that most of the local pundits think it is uncivil & naive to make such an assertion. Now I realize that this East-West/Edwards connection is probably just an inconsequential arrangement between a few nice people who just want to serve the public, but at least we know there is a connection.

On the White Cross/CH Schools merger suggestion - we are just as much a bunch of bumpkins out here as anywhere else in the county....

I *think/hope* this property is part of the rural buffer. I know others who live out there who have been told they will never receive city services because of the buffer designation. Those people all send their children to CHCCS schools.

Hi Terri,

you may already know this but the rural buffer is the creation of a Joint Planning Agreement of all local government agencies not to extend water and sewer into it to slow development.. However this circa 1986 (?) document does have a set expiration date (35 years??)..

maybe some of the local elected's can clarify this... My point is when you think of the rural buffer it is not an impenetrable fortress only a paper document with and expiration date..

So to be truly visionary you must think about 15-20 years from now and what numerous policy decisions (some I won't mention) may or may not to do its likely preservation....

Mark, earlier you said "In the late 1950's after Orange County built the school in Carrboro and it opened, Carrboro and White Cross voted to choose their school district. This was a vote by the people, where Carrboro voted to be in the city district and White Cross voted not to be."

So I took this to mean this area was in the county school district.

Terri, I don't think the Edwards' need no steenkin' municipal services. ;-) They'd probably rather be left alone.

But Terri's point is well taken . Currently you can't develop that property into anything more than 5 acre lots. Now that would be a real shame, but there won't be a Meadowmont out there, at least until the current urban boundary agreement expires...

We should probably start a separate thread about the urban growth boundary and whether it's sufficient. I'm pretty much convinced it's not doing much to keep us from developing the rural area, but others may have a different opinion. See the new thread on here.

I'm picturing the Edwards children hula-hooping at the Weave as Secret Service agents stick out like sore thumbs in the wings. Could be kind of fun, at least for the first week or so.

And sending the Edwards children to public school would send a really amazing message. Was Amy Carter the last/only presidential/vice presidential child to go to public school during the term of the president/vice president?

I know everyone is down on the school system right now due to merger, but if you step back and think about it, I can't think of a better public school system in the country to handle the honor of teaching the vice presidential children.

Well, Well,

If there were ever an incentive for our local elected folk to get out there and beat the bushes to ensure a Kerry/Edwards victory, this may be it--Lest there be a MOST formidable competitor in the '06 cycle for, say, County Commissioner? Senate 23?--Seems all the rage among prominent plaintiff's attorneys these days...Wonder what John's position is on merger, anyway? Hmmmmm.



Another article about thet Edwards' farm is at

And Mark, sorry about not giving you credit. I had told Ruby about this story before it broke in the news and said I would post something a day before you sent the guest post, but then your guest post spurred my posting. I should have given you credit.


I'm hoping it will be at least 8 years before the Edwards' take up residence.

Hmmm, the Herald article cites the schools again. Does anyone have a link to a good map that shows the city and county districts so we can settle this? (And someone tell the Edwards'!)

BTW Mark P. (and for future reference, all), guest post ideas are not automatically published. Your chances are improved if you actually write something, rather than just pasting URLs.

Such a piece of property! This is clearly an investment. It cries out for development, for a sort of West side Meadowmont. Wait who else is involved in the purchase? East-West who would appropriately have an Eastern and a Western border colony to Chapel Hill/Carrboro. Could we also install a trolley line between the two developments?


It is settled. Click on the county tax link I provided, then look at the tax code on the property, it is tax code 04, as I indicated. Then click on the tax code definition link and viola! Tax Code 04 = County + Chapel Hill School District + South Orange Fire. The GIS records are supposed to be the determinating factor in taxes & services. It could not be more clear, unless someone has a reason to believe that the GIS is in error.

I realize the guest posts are not automatically published, but my intent was to spur someone to post this with the essential details I provided. I did not understand the level of eloquence required and I wanted to start the conversation with just the facts. I liked the way Ricky posed questions. Thanks, Ricky. I will try to pose thoughtful questions in the future. One reason I did not ask questions is that one would have been a comment or question on a particular taboo topic and I knew you did not want yet another thread talking about that, so I avoided it altogether.


Folks, this thread is about John Edwards, not merger. Please stay on topic.

Hmmm, once again the evidence of the Merger Theorum.

To wit, any sufficiently extended thread will eventually devolve into a discussion of school merger. The corollary is that the discussion will approach, aymptotically, a relevant solution from either side of the axes.

Thanks Graig,

there are much simpler solutions than merger to address busing in the southern part of the county and then the ridiculous number of other school issues that have nothing to do with funding or merger can get some well deserved and desperately needed attention by the community.

If School board member Brown lives in this area I hope you ask her to investigate this further..

My understanding is that any one home (or any one block or any one subdivision etc...) contiguous with the CHCCS district can in writing petition the CHCCS to be voluntarily annexed into the school district PROVIDING they are willing to pay the district tax. All it takes is 50% plus 1 (in writing) of property owners per chosen area (block, subdivision, etc...) to be done and school board acceptance.

May I be so bold as to suggest that if anyone is interested in this scenario the opening of the 3rd high school would allow enough time and student capacity for the school boards and tax payers to plan ahead for such an event, should the residents choose to pursue it..


That's good information on White Cross. I live there and know that many of my neighbors have been behind the merger push - including Liz Brown. Next time it comes up, I'll suggest they check out that statute. If they focused on just getting White Cross to merge, the rest of the county (including Chapel Hill) might be able to chill out and focus on some other issues.

Mark, stop bringing facts in to support all your claims. Can't we just discuss this without looking at facts but just use our assumptions and how we want things to be, like many do for issues......

just kidding....

mark p. maybe you could explain to Mark C. how whitecross came about as a county zoned school -- the story is interesting and most people don't know about it....

My mistake. Four miles west of Carrboro is indeed outside the school district. However, looking at this parcel on Orange County GIS, it is just under 1 mile from Carrboro as the crow flies and just about 2 miles out Old Greensboro Highway.

And another big question - will they shut down the mountain biking area around Horace Williams Airport for security reasons? It is a really great mtn bking area - I was even there yesterday. Would there be a big fence added to that side of Seawell School Road?


Regarding Jay's question,

In the late 1950's after Orange County built the school in Carrboro and it opened, Carrboro and White Cross voted to choose their school district. This was a vote by the people, where Carrboro voted to be in the city district and White Cross voted not to be.

NC statute 115C-73 defines the process by which the people in that sliver can be added to the city district. (requires citizen majority vote & approval of city school board & approval of state school board)

I think there is a bigger question at hand here:

Will John Edwards be pro-merger or anti-merger?

I'm pretty sure that John's new land is outside the CH-C school district . . .

I sent this in as a guest post to all of the annointed ones yesterday morning, and it took a day and I didn't get credit, but oh well.

"The candidate and his wife Elizabeth Edwards bought 102 acres of land four miles west of Chapel Hill on Old Greensboro Road June 24 for $1,316,500."

"Elizabeth Edwards ... is very interested in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district."


The tax records for this land show it in CHCCS district:

Tax Rate Code 04 = County + Chapel Hill School District + South Orange Fire

good link Melanie...

I am a little worried about the class size reduction ...while clearly a very good direction.. Where is this going to be paid from?

Does it not mean more schools will need to be built? Does it not mean that more teachers need to be hired?

The governor has veto power over any budget right?

This seems like an unfunded mandate (while a good one conceptually)...

My point... the state legislature LED by the governor needs to pay for statewide quality educations including all the teachers smaller class sizes will require.. Maybe all this stuff is included .. you seem to know.. but it seems every time they shrink class size they need to include a big increase in spending to accomodate it ... otherwise they are passing the buck to the local governments... (reminescent of all the bush policies).

I don't know if this qualifies as an unfunded mandate--more of an forced re-distribution. All over the USA, the courts have been re-structuring the way schools are funded, to help "even out" funding between wealthy counties and poor counties. Ohio and Kentucky both had to re-structure the funding of their schools becasue of court battles. Here is a history of what happened in Ohio:

And Kentucky:

VERY complicated...

As to the current formula for NC schools--haven't been able to come up with that from a quick google--but I do know it is tied to individual county tax bases. Hence, the poorer counties receive less in funding. I DO know that there are schools in the poorer parts of our state with inadequate facilities and insufficient books--and that is WRONG.

There was a great series in one of the local papers (N&O?) awhile back--but I couldn't find it. NC better figure it out--or the courts will do it FOR them.


PS if this post shows up ore than once, my apologies. Somnething got VERY weird with the internet there for a second--so I am hitting post ONCE more...sorry if I double (or triple!)post

Schools in the state of NC receive funds from the state based on their local contributions--which are based on property tax. The basis of Leandro was that children from counties in which there is not much of a tax base are penalized and the state has to figure out how to equalize the funding. Easley's step today is the first step (very late) in complying with Judge Manning's ruling.

Thanks Terri! I was hoping you'd know.


I deleted the "opinated" paragraph from my last post. The whole issue with merger is a perfect illustration of the inequity of using property taxes as a foundation for school funding. The value of property in the CHCCS district, for tax purposes, is much higher, acre for acre, than property values in the rest of county. Especially when you consider that farm/forest land in the county is taxed at a lower rate in order to keep it out of development and protect the rural character/environmental quality of the entire county. For the base school funding, property taxes work well for the county schools by re-distributing urban wealth to the county. Unfortunately the CHCCS district tax offsets that re-distribution. From my reading of the county staff reports, levying a comparable district tax on county residents while reducing the CHCCS tax rate, could have the net effect of reducing or possibly eliminating the original re-distribution of wealth.

This is only a theory, I'm not an expert in the area of school finance, but this is the reasoning behind my opposition to equalizing funding by adding a district tax. I hope our new BOCC will investigate alternatives to using property taxes for school funding.

> For the base school funding, property taxes work well for the county

> schools by re-distributing urban wealth to the county.

We have had this discussion before. There is no Robin Hood effect between the two districts. A penny of tax in each district raises almost the same per pupil funding in each district. See

The projections are that a penny of tax will continue to raise almost the same per pupil revenue for the next 10 years. See also which shows that the property tax base per enrolled student is similar between the two districts.

You are correct that a countywide district tax or simply raising the ad valorem tax reduces any concerns about whether the the per pupil revenue per penny of tax outlook might change in the future.


Mark--do you feel property taxes are the most appropriate source of funding for education?

What is our responsibility to the children in less unfortunate areas of the state? And do we want the COURTS deciding how to FIX the problem? Because unless the State Legislature gets off it's fanny and addresses this issue--that is who will be restructuring things. The precedents are pretty clear--the way we do things now is NOT going to be acceptable to the higher courts. This issue has been faced by numerous states, many times over. The answer form the courts is pretty consisntent---if your State promises an adequate education--you'd better FUND one. We aren't DOING that right now.


For the record, my conjecture about Edwards' position on school merger was a weak attempt to make a joke.

I generally try to stay out of this debate, but if you think a district tax is going to take steps to equalize the quality of education between the two school systems, then you are fooling yourself.

I MEANT "what is our responsibilty to children in the less FORTUNATE areas of the state." It takes so long for stuff to post, I've quit previewing. Hence, my poor proofing skills are hampered even further. SORRY!


The courts in NC aren't being particularly effective according to the newspapers. The legislature alloted only $5 million of the $22 million request to respond to the Leandro decision. Easley has added $12 million as one time funding. So now they are only $4 milion short on funding for this year for 10-11 counties for this year.

Factors outside of what anyone can legislate or mandate have huge impacts ...


things like standardized tests have "classes" for several thousand dollars that will never be paid for by the "system". While personally I think it is unfair that only some take them/afford them - until they are banned this is something that is indepedent of the schools and is a factor in SAT scores unfortunately.

(Mr. Compton - from some of your comments I get the sense you do not have children , is this true?). There is nothing magical but more funding through more taxation and maybe longer bus rides for more and shorter ones for fewer, that merger would provide.. If there is some magical elixir/pixie dust given out in CHCCS let me know and I'll buy some to sprinkle on my kids.

For Terri, there are only 3 sources of funds, federal, state and those dispersed by the county commissioners. I imagine someone could try to get things like cigarette taxes to try to go to schools through some law, or lotteries as other states do but I don't think this is a sound way or philosophically good one to fund schools in the long run. In the end, for orange county - because both systems are tremendously funded compared to the rest of the state, the only local source of funds realistically will be based on property tax base, because this is what is allowed by law. And that is why per pupil allotment is what is also legally defined and the only relevant number.

As stated above, the taxation impacts under ANY scenario are very very similar. So you must ask your self - if you care about sprawl, air pollution etc.. which scenario will have better long term consequences?

The merger discussion has not quite reached the complex solution to simplistic "problem" yet, but it is getting there. As commissioner brown correctly pointed out, growth does not pay for itself, so this is something to put into your calculus for the future or orange.

Again, the territory covered by the CHCCS district is 70% of the tax base and 70% of the population....that is why taxation per pupil is basically the same... I don't think NC law allows LOCAL funding per pupil based on e.g. an income tax.. but maybe someone can chime in on this. (indirectly this is what the state does, it takes income taxes and gives it back to the schools.)

I'm not reffering to Chapel hill/ OC merger. The court case in question applies to ALL the schools in the State. I think the courts have been giving the State legislature the benefit of hte doubt--but will lose patience soon. That, or another poor district will follow up with an additional suit and force the issue.

I have family in Ohio, andin-lwas in KY--and restructuring HAS helped the very poorest didstricts there. This isn't a case of providing coaching for the SAT's--but a case of making certain that there are ENOUGH TEXT BOOKS for all the students, and safe buildings. WIsh I could remeber WHEN the N&O did that series on the state of the schools in the poored NC counties...


Interesting Terri -

a few counties (but not ours) had the ability to impose sales taxes for school construction....

this is also interesting ... a couple places have given the SCHOOL BOARDS the ability to collect property taxes directly without going through the county commissioners... That is good because it removes the political fear or raising taxes from the commissioners and places it on the people asking for the money - the school board....

"There are 117 school districts in North Carolina. This number represents 100

county units plus 17 specially chartered city units. Of these, 115 are fiscally

dependent. Two city systems, Mooresville and Roanoke Rapids, have charters

that allow the local board of education to set an independent school tax rate based

on property valuation within the district without approval from the county or city


I guess there are lots of solutions (or possible ones) for school funding none of which seem to be explored for OC.

Thank you chit-chat--that's the point some of us have been trying to make for the past couple of months. We need to press our county commissioners to explore the possibilities before they take the easy road of adding a new district tax on county residents.

I think the local representatives like (e.g. Kinnaird, insko,faison) would have to ask the state for the "special" legislative ability to do these other things...

(I think merger is the easiest politically but least beneficial/creative longterm solution)...

In the end it will come down to taxation by some means, however, either by sales tax or property tax (which I support both personally).. but with the merger cloud on the table nothing else will get attention... I hope the BOCC will explore other solutions (voluntary annexation for some parts, other means of taxation etc...)..

thanks for the info..

Thanks for the sites that you mentioned, Terri. Good information. Some of the information I have looked at before. Below is some of the quotes from the sites that you sent.

"Research on the relationships of school size, poverty, and student achievement has shown that small schools are better for kids -- particularly kids from poorer communities. Now, a new report goes head-to-head with conventional wisdom about economies of scale, proving that smaller schools can be cost-effective, as well. Dollars and Sense: The Cost Effectiveness of Small Schools, released in September 2002, is a collaborative effort of the KnowledgeWorks Foundation, the Rural School and Community Trust, and Concordia, Inc. A team of nine researchers with expertise in education, architecture, and quantitative research challenge the common belief that big schools are cheaper to build and maintain than are small ones. ".... This particular quote is exactly why the school board favored and supported building the third high school rather than adding on to the existing high school (suggested by some of the current BOC).

"A closer examination of the OAG report suggests statewide school district consolidation is unlikely to produce the hoped-for fiscal savings. Moreover, empirical research shows consolidation increases administrative costs at the expense of classroom instruction, yielding larger classes, fewer teachers, and lower student achievement." .... This particular quote is also a good item that has been mentioned several times in the conversation about merger.

With all due respect, this school funding discussion has nothing at all to do with the Edwards' land purchase. If all you want to talk about is merger, there is another website for you: . is about a wide variety of issues, and merger has already been talked to death. (But if you must re-hash it, there are plenty of appropriate threads: )

if you are not able to stay on topic, your comments will be deleted. Please don't make me do it.



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