Durham County

School board to hold hearings for input on budget, superintendent search

The Durham Board of Education will hold public input sessions Thursday, May 4, to give residents a chance to weigh in on the DPS budget proposal for the 2017-18 school year and the search for a new superintendent to replace Bert L'Homme who will retire in August.
The Durham Board of Education will hold public input sessions Thursday, May 4, to give residents a chance to weigh in on the DPS budget proposal for the 2017-18 school year and the search for a new superintendent to replace Bert L'Homme who will retire in August.

The Durham Board of Education will hold two “public input sessions” Thursday, May 4, one to give residents a chance to comment on the proposed budget for the 2017-18 school year and the other to allow them to chime in on the fledgling search for a new superintendent to replace Bert L’Homme who will retire in August.

The “public input session” for the superintendent search will begin at 5:30 p.m., and last one hour.

It will be followed by the budget session that is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m., and last to 8 p.m.

Both sessions will follow a regular board work session that starts at 4:30 p.m.

DPS has proposed a $430 million spending plan that calls for the elimination of 103 central office and school-based positions, including eight assistant principal positions and 24 teaching positions, in a move to save the school district $11.2 million.

School officials contend no jobs would be lost because the cuts would come through attrition and the elimination of vacancies.

Employees in jobs that are being eliminated would be found new positions within the school district.

DPS has asked County Commissioners for $3.5 million in “new money” to pay for charter school enrollment growth, salary and benefit increases and fixed costs such as increases in utilities.

The board seemed willing to consider asking for more money last week after several speakers demanded the board request what the district needs to adequately educate Durham students.

L’Homme said if the board is inclined to ask commissioners for more money, it should make saving the school-based positions scheduled for elimination a top priority.

“If you’re looking at that, it would be those categories, the ones that affect the schools the most,” L’Homme said.

Under the current proposal, the county’s 13 charter schools would receive a little more than half — $1.8 million of the “new money” — $1.2 million for a projected 380-student enrollment growth and $630,000 due under state law requiring school districts to share a percentage of any new local allocation with charter schools.

Superintendent search

The school board continues to work on developing a plan to officially launch a search for DPS’ next superintendent.

Last week, the board did not reach agreement on whether to hire a search firm to conduct the search.

It did agree to provide more opportunities for community input.

A group of board members agreed to plan several community meetings for May to give residents more chances to tell the board what they’d like to see in a new superintendent.

School Board Chairman Mike Lee said there would likely be three or four such meetings held in several different parts of the county to give residents from across Durham a chance to attend.

Greg Childress: 919-419-6645, @gchild6645

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