Durham reassignment plan passes

Revised principal selection policy looks unlikely
Jan. 24, 2013 @ 10:18 PM

Crowding should be eased at Lowe’s Grove while Brogden sees more students coming through its doors this fall.

And students in the Woodcroft subdivision who currently attend Hillside High get the option to attend Jordan instead.

Durham Public Schools Board of Education members voted 4-1 on Thursday night to approve the reassignment plan, which affects just a few hundred current students.

Board member Frederick Davis provided the lone vote against, based on the Woodcroft shift, which hadn’t been part of the administration’s original recommendation.

“I don’t want people to jump on the administration,” Davis said. “It was not initiated by the administration for this transfer of that area.”

At a previous committee meeting, vice-chair Minnie Forte-Brown and board member Omega Curtis Parker had shared Davis’s concern about the Woodcroft move. However, Forte-Brown was out of town and Parker was out sick.

Board chair Heidi Carter, who initiated the original discussion that put Woodcroft’s potential move on the table, voted in favor of the shift. She was joined by board members Leigh Bordley, Nancy Cox and Natalie Beyer.

Carter asked Hugh Osteen, assistant superintendent for operational services, if the administration recommended that the board not shift those students from Hillside to Jordan.

“We’re not recommending for or against,” Osteen said, adding that the move did fit within the district’s guiding principles.

Bordley justified her approval for the shift, saying, “I think that this change, which I’ve thought about a lot, is in the best interest of our system. It will move us closer to our goal of creating more excellent schools.”

She noted that parents who choose to put their children in charter schools might opt back into Durham Public Schools in that area if they know their children would go to Jordan rather than Hillside.

However, she acknowledged that the district must do more to spread the word about many good things happening at Hillside.

“It breaks my heart that we can’t just draw lines and call it good,” Bordley said. “The burden is upon us to convince people our schools are attractive. We need to increase our public relations in that area, appoint a committee, work with parents. I don’t believe attendance lines are going to get us where we want to go.”

The board also had been set to discuss a proposed revision of the principal selection policy, which would have eliminated the idea of selection committees interviewing potential candidates and making recommendations to the administration.

Superintendent Eric Becoats asked the board to take the policy back to committee for further administration recommendations.

“Modifications can be made to support the policy as it’s currently worded,” Becoats said. He didn’t go into details, but said the revised policy “will probably not be needed based on some of the work we will do related to the current policy.”

The board voted 4-1 to move the policy back to committee for further discussion. Davis, who approved the administration’s revisions, voted against doing so.

Finally, board members took one step closer to approving the suspension of an exit standard requirement that would have jeopardized graduation for seniors who struggle with new tests this year.

The state Department of Public Instruction isn’t allowing re-tests during this academic year, so local districts have the option of waiving a requirement that students pass end-of-course assessments.

The board voted 4-1 to take the proposal to their February meeting for second reading and likely approval.

Davis again proved the sole vote in opposition, saying that he wanted to waive second reading, pass it Thursday night and be done with it.

Bordley disagreed. She preferred to follow their tradition of taking it to second reading, even if it is only on consent agenda, so that the public would have more time to learn what’s going on.

Follow on Twitter at @wplattheraldsun. Connect on Facebook at facebook.com/wesplattheraldsun.