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Bill could mean merger for some N.C. school districts

Posted March 9, 2009
Updated March 10, 2009

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— A Cumberland County lawmaker has proposed a bill in the state Senate that, if it were to become law, would fund only one school district per county.

That would mean city school districts in 11 counties, including Orange, Halifax and Sampson, would likely have to merge with county school systems to continue receiving funding.

Year-Round Schools Generic Some school districts could face merger

Sen. Tony Rand, D-Cumberland, says that merging the districts would save an estimated $11 million to $12 million each year.

Rand's bill exempts certain school districts, such as Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools, that cover two counties.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools would be one of the systems affected should the proposal become law. Board of Education Chairwoman Lisa Stuckey says the board would not be in favor of merging the system with Orange County Schools.

In 2003, the school system studied the impact of merging, but leaders found it could be expensive for the state to pay for a merged district because the schools would have to be funded at the highest-per-pupil-level of the two, and the city schools have a separate tax that boosts their spending per student.

It also found that it could affect the quality of education students receive.

"Having two smaller districts leads to more local control, to more of an ability for parents and to students to form relationships with their school community," Stuckey said.

Rand calls multiple districts in a county a "luxury" in the current economic situation.

"Eleven million dollars – that's $1.50 for everybody in North Carolina," Rand said. "Do you think your $1.50 should be spent on that? I don't think mine should."

According to Rand's office, there would be a savings of $11,393,030, with nearly half of that coming from less central office administration.

Lee Moavenzadeh, who has four children in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro district, says she will wait to hear more about the issue before forming an opinion. She says she hopes the focus stays on what is happening in classrooms.

"When politics and accounting drive educational policy instead of actual learning, then I think we've got it backwards," she said.

Stuckey says she is meeting with other city districts to talk about the proposal. If the bill passes, the board of education would likely talk to Orange County commissioners about the value in funding two school districts.

That would require local money, she says.

"This year, with the budget crisis, it makes that a particularly difficult conversation," she said.

Rand's bill, meanwhile, has been sent to a committee for further study.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • gowolfpk Mar 11, 2009

    I hope that everyone who has posted here has contacted their legislators to voice their opinion! I will gladly send Mr. Rand a $1.50 if he will leave us alone. (Note that no other legislator has sponsored this bill.) The city systems have something going for them in that there is personal service on the local level. In many cases, it is the students who will suffer. $11 million is a drop in the bucket when you look at the whole budget. Let's break that down a little more... 12M / 100= $110,000. per county - I don't see that that makes that much difference.... We see what happened when people who didn't know how schools operate passed the "Save our summers" bill. Please don't let the legislators act too quickly this time without careful study and consideration of all of the ramifications of this so called funding bill. I know times are tight, but this isn't the solution.

  • footballrocks177 Mar 10, 2009

    Yes, Glomae
    Wake County is already one system. Time4real you need to get your facts straight. They have been one district for quite a while. They may have 9 areas but they are still governed as one.

  • squawk08 Mar 10, 2009

    Efficiency is always welcome, but not at the hands at the government, we see how effective they are at running their own government offices. If you want to fix education then get the parents involved and hold them accountable for their kids. Kids do not care because the parents do not care. In my district we have parents who lie about their phone numbers so we do not call them. At another school we had the principal and guidance make a home visit and the parents actually refused to answer the door. Coming up with new theories and ideas is not the way to go, get the parents involved!

  • BigUNCFan Mar 10, 2009

    I say go for it as it works so well in Wake County (note sarcasm).

  • SalemWWX Mar 10, 2009


    Larger, more centralized, cumbersome, bloated and unresposive school systems....Just what we need to keep our public schools churning out the excellence.....oh wait a minute....

  • chapelhillian Mar 10, 2009

    Mr. Rand doesn't give a flip about education and brings this bill up every year to get attention. Wake and Meck are monstrosities which need to be split up.

    NCForum.org published a couple of years ago that the average school district in the country is 3,300 students. Chapel Hill/Carrboro has 4 times the average and Wake has like 50 times the average. Children are better served with smaller school districts with accessible school board members.

    Rand is going in the wrong direction. At over 100,000 kids each, Wake and Meck are monstrosities that should be split up.

    Rand doesn't care about whether this negatively impacts education, just that it has the appearance of saving money for the state. In reality, it reduces the number of administrators funded by the state per student such that the counties have to pick them up.

    CHCCS residents are already paying their share of increased funding via a district tax. If Orange County were to choose not to continue funding the CH/C admin

  • MrX-- Mar 10, 2009

    Why fund 100 separate school systems. We could have just one big gigantic school system and not have to deal with all the administrative duplication.

  • Yellow Rider Mar 10, 2009

    They should be busting up huge systems like Wake County, rather than creating more of them. Geez!

  • WHEEL Mar 10, 2009

    If you want to cut costs just withhold State funding until the local districts can't afford all of their central office curriculum specilists, testing experts, transportation coordinators, and multiple assistant principles at every school. If you are not teaching a class or doing cleaning and maintainance, you are gone.

  • time4real Mar 10, 2009

    "It would drive property values through the floor in Roanoke Rapids"

    Didn't that happen when you guys hired Randy Parton to save you?