Durham schools to stick with current principal selection policy

Board also opts against exploring more K-8 school options for now
Feb. 04, 2013 @ 06:58 PM

So, about that revised principal selection policy: Never mind.

“The administration is recommending that (the Durham Public Schools Board of Education) maintain the policy at this time as it is written,” Lewis Ferebee, DPS chief of staff, said at Monday’s meeting of the instructional services committee.

Last fall, DPS administrators first proposed changing the policy so that it would shift the community committee’s role from selection to feedback. It also would’ve eliminated the premise of teachers and parents on the committee interviewing potential new principals and making recommendations to the superintendent.

Those proposals met significant opposition from indignant members of the Durham community who thought the administration should value selection committee input.

Ultimately, Ferebee said, it was determined a better course to keep the current policy while bolstering underlying procedures, such as making committee members sign confidentiality agreements.

“I want to thank the administration for working with the board, your staff and members of the community to craft policy and procedures that meet everybody’s needs and desires,” said Heidi Carter, board chair.

Board member Nancy Cox agreed, saying, “I’m really pleased. I’m glad we can finally put this to rest.”

The committee also heard a presentation from Ferebee and Hugh Osteen, assistant superintendent for operations, about options for expanding non-magnet K-8 campuses at schools such as Little River, Oak Grove, Hillandale, Fayetteville Street, C.C. Spaulding and Mangum.

Cox urged caution, however. The district is adding eighth grade at Lucas Middle School this fall. New magnet programs will be added at Neal, Lowe’s Grove and the School for Creative Studies on the old Chewning campus. The district has just rolled out new non-magnet specialties for other middle schools to help make them more appealing.

“I just want time for those to play out,” she said.

Board member Natalie Beyer noted that the conversion, which might cost anywhere from $2 to $3 million just for facility upgrades at Hillandale alone by district estimates, wouldn’t be affordable.

“I don’t think we’ve got any bond money for this just lying around,” she said.

Carter added that what money the district does have would be earmarked for maintenance and repairs.

However, board member Frederick Davis told his colleagues they’ve repurposed money before. So, if they want to argue against expanding those K-8 offerings, he said, focus on the new initiatives that are ready to launch.

“If it doesn’t work, come back and do something else,” Davis said.

Bordley thinks the report from the administration could still have value for the district, even if they don’t move forward with K-8 expansion in the immediate future. But, like Cox and other board members, she wants to see how the recent initiatives help put students in DPS middle school seats.

“We can use the information to make the system stronger,” she said. “What might be a great thing for a particular school might not be good for the entire system.”


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