"Focused Dialog" about Glenwood/Carrboro Elementary programs


Monday, December 2, 2013 - 6:00pm


East Chapel Hill High School

Just got the following somewhat cryptic press release from the CHCCSS. As usualy I had to download an open a Word doucment and get more than halfway through it before I could even figure out what the topic is ("Enrollment Levels at Glenwood Elementary School").To learn more about this issue, see the recent Indy story: Redistricting Rankling Carrboro Parents.

I can theoretically understand the value of this type of  meeting, but it's hard not to feel like the schools would prefer that most of us are seen and not heard.


Focused Dialogue

6:00 p.m. - Monday, December 2 - East Chapel Hill High


Chapel Hill, NC - The goals, vision, and strategies of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools (CHCCS) long range plan are rooted in a set of guiding principles. These guiding principles were crafted after significant input from staff, parents, community, and students. One of those principles reads "We believe in a culture that promotes collaboration, civility, mutual trust, and community partnerships."

In support of that belief, the administration of the CHCCS will be initiating focused dialogues in an effort to engage parents in meaningful conversations on important issues that impact our schools. Furthermore, it is our intent to provide parent representatives with accurate information about current initiatives. The PTA Council offered a number of suggestions regarding the make-up of these dialogue groups.

In order to maintain a workable group, it has been suggested that for an elementary school issue, for example, no more than four individuals from each school will be selected. At least one representative should come from the School Improvement Team and one from the PTA. Depending on the issue, a faculty representative may also be included. Other parent representatives would be selected from the general school community. All parents and community members are welcome to attend as there will be an opportunity for those who are not at the discussion tables to share input electronically.

"The focused dialogue model has been used in other school districts with tremendous success," said Superintendent Tom Forcella. "Parents and community members have an opportunity to discuss issues in greater depth and collaborate on recommendations."

A pilot focused parent dialogue will be conducted on the topic, "Enrollment Levels at Glenwood Elementary School." All elementary schools are asked to participate as potential solutions could ultimately impact some or all elementary schools. The event is set for 6:00 p.m. on December 2, 2013, in the East Chapel Hill High Commons.

This particular topic generated significant input from parents at the November 7, 2013 Board of Education meeting and is not slated to come back to the Board until January. The December 2 focused dialogue will provide sufficient time for the administration to combine the input from this session with other available information in order to make a recommendation to the Board of Education.

It is important to know that the parent dialogue is not meant to keep people out, but rather to invite a more representative parent voice in the decision-making process. As always, parents may utilize all the existing communication avenues such as email and public comment to voice their opinion. The parent dialogues simply add another layer to the conversation.

Thank you for your consideration as we attempt to improve communications with parents and community.



In my mind, there's no question we've had challenges with meaningful community dialogue in CHCCS.   This new process Dr Forcella wants to try sounds promising, although there are areas to watch (need to have diverse representation, allow minority viewpoints to be fully heard and respected, participants need to be open to exploring pros/cons of new ideas).  The Glenwood overcrowding is a useful pilot for the process, as it certainly will impact more than just Glenwood, and we need to make decisions relatively quickly.  Just be mindful this is a pilot -- the process may not be perfect first time we do it.  Doesn't mean it isn't worth trying (and I believe a step forward in how we engage the community).

Oh, and this doesn't replace any of the other processes we have for engagement - citizen comment via email, meetings, etc.  It is simply a way for administration to get more feedback prior to making a recommendation. --James Barrett
Member of Chapel Hill/Carrboro School Board
Unless otherwise noted, my comments here are my own, not opinions of the school board or my employer

James, Forgive my skepticism, but this is more of the same. Every time the CHCCS talks about dialogue, the same AIG community and already-empowered parents step up. The dialogue is always totally managed and controlled and nothing much changes. While I believe Dr. Forcella has the best intentions, there is no real effort to empower the school communities (parents and teachers) to think creatively and solve the problems each school confronts. 5 parent reps is not the answer. Community empowerment is. I am afraid this is something our administrators do not know how to do. maria Maria T. Palmer

I wanted to attend this meeting but other responsibilities made it impossible.  Can anyone point me to a recap of what was discussed, and if anything, decided?

I was supposed to attend on behalf of my kids elementary school, but had to back out. Here's a link that includes resources that relate some of the comments from yesterday — scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Thanks for sharing the link. I just skimmed all the comments. One suggestion I would like to share: Add/ remodel mobile units/trailers for additional classrooms at Glenwood. When my son was at Glenwood he had science in one trailer. The trailers could be used for the enrichment classes or some of the dual language expansion classes. I did not see any comment from the middle school/ high school perspective. When I taught at CHHS I had a few students in the dual language Spanish and others in dual language Mandarin. They were in one small enrollment high school class but no longer were taking dual language courses. One year I taught biology in Spanish to Latino students but the district/school opted not to continue that course.

Glenwood has several trailers already.  They really can't add any more as the cafeteria/media center/etc aren't big enough (not to mention the traffic that already backs up 54).

I campaigned at Glenwood and never saw cars backed up to 54.More kids can arrive by bus, bike or foot. Parents can use the SECU parking lot as short parking option if need be. Some trailers were removed a few years ago. Scheduled timing can get more kids in the Library and Cafeteria. (We are talking scores not hundreds of children.)


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