Local News

School Merger Meeting Draws Crowd In Hillsborough

Posted December 5, 2003

— A plan to merge Orange County Schools and Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools continues to get a failing grade from parents.

Orange County spends about $1,100 less per student than the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district that benefits from a district tax. County commissioners want to come up with a more adequate financial balance.

At the Hillsborough County Courthouse Thursday, Orange County commissioners laid out its case for a possible merger between the school systems inthe last of three public hearings.

Parents who opposed the plan outnumbered those who favored it Thursday.

"I think there's only one solution to achieve academic excellence and that's to merge the schools," David Gerlach said.

The parents who packed the courthouse said they are not opposed to achieving funding equity between the school systems. They just do not believe a merger is the best option.

One parent linked the commissioners' position on a merger to their political future.

"It would be very difficult for us to vote for a candidate next May, or future elections, if the candidate has not taken such a position," David Weinberg said.

While the community grapples with the issue of to merge or not to merge, there is one thing that is not in dispute.

"If we're going to pursue funding equity, whether it's through a merger or some other measure, the folks in Orange County will have to pay more taxes," county manager John Link said.

Higher taxes will be among the alternatives county commissioners will discuss when they meet next week. They will also talk about improving academic collaborations between the two districts and consider setting up a task force to study the merger's impact on both districts.


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