Local News

Durham School Leaders Extend Superintendent's Contract

Posted June 23, 1999

— The Superintendent of Durham Public Schools will continue to serve in her position, after the school board decided Thursday night to extend her contract.

The board has been split along racial lines over Ann Denlinger's performance, and continued to be. Four white board members support Denlinger, but three black members say they have concerns.

In fact, theDurham Board of Educationrecently reviewed a performance bonus for the superintendent; four white board members supported it and the three black members were opposed.

Durham County Schoolsare performing at their highest level in years. But in spite of the schoolwide improvement, race, and not results, are driving the debate over Denlinger.

Many parents hope race is not the deciding factor when their children's future is at stake.

Most kids probably are not thinking about school or the school board's decision on the superintendent, but Sylvester Surratt is. He has three kids in Durham Public Schools.

He wishes the debate would move away from race and more toward issues like the home.

"There's some parents that don't care and just let their kids rip and run. They go to school just to be going to school," said Surratt.

Connie Smith just moved to Durham with her daughter, Courtney. She has heard the debate over the superintendent's future. She says the school system's performance is all that matters.

"We've checked theABCsof education through the state. I've been toEasley Elementaryand talked to the staff and the guidance counselor. I was really pleased with what I've heard and what I saw," said Smith.

"I know that individual teachers are working themselves to death for children and not on the basis of what color or what socioeconomic group or anything," said Board Member Phillis Scott.

Denlinger was hired in 1997, and for the second year in a row, countywide reading and math test scores for grades three through eight were up. In fact, the latest results are the highest the county has seen since a merger of city and county schools.

It is important to note while scores of African-American students have risen in Durham, they still lag behind those of white students.

In the same meeting, the school board also approved a pay raise for bus drivers from $8 to $9.14.


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