Orange County

Thanks, and a few requests, at 2nd Orange County budget hearing

Andrea Tanner and her son Colin asked the Orange County commissioners Thursday to keep teacher’s assistants in mind as they decide next year’s Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools budget.

She has witnessed the effect that a teacher’s assistant can have on fourth- and fifth-graders and the meaningful relationship that can develop, said Tanner, a parent volunteer at Seawell Elementary School in Chapel Hill.

Teacher’s assistants also take a lot of pressure off the teacher, said Colin Tanner, a Seawell fourth-grader.

“For example, if we are struggling and a teacher is with another student, then our second option for for help could be a TA. Also, when the TA is in the room, the transition goes smoother and the room is under control,” he said.

Orange County Schools teacher Maggie Holly thanked the commissioners for last year’s increase in the local supplement paid to teachers.

“I am currently in my seventh year of teaching, and this was the first year that I haven’t had to work a second job because of the supplemental increase,” she said. “Going forth, I would ask that you all consider the educators when finalizing the 2017-18 Orange County budget.”

They were among 15 people who spoke at the second Orange County Board of Commissioners budget hearing. The proposed $217.8 million budget includes nearly $81 million in local operating funds for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Orange County schools. The commissioners could adopt a budget June 20.

Other speakers noted the needs of nonprofits serving people with disabilities, seniors, and extracurricular programs for children. Lisa Van Deman, executive director of Kidzu Children’s Museum, thanked County Manager Bonnie Hammersley for including half of the nonprofit’s $20,919 request in next year’s budget.

It is Kidzu’s first year seeking money from the county, she said, urging the commissioners to provide the full amount. Kidzu development director Kate Sullivan and Sue Florence, president of the Cedar Grove Neighborhood Association, echoed her petition.

Full funding will directly support over 1,200 of the 13.4 percent of Orange County children and families living in poverty, Van Deman said, providing outreach programs focused on STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – learning and intergenerational family day camp.

“As I’m sure you’re all aware, STEM learning is critical for success in the adult world, and children, with their natural curiosity, are natural STEM investigators,” Van Deman said.

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb

Budget details

Proposed county budget: $217.8 million

County tax rate: 83.77 cents per $100 in property value

County tax bill: $2,094.25 in county taxes for a $250,000 house

City schools district tax: 20.18 cents per $100 in property value

School district tax bill: $504.50 for a $250,000 house

Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools: $48.5 million local budget, a $2.1 million increase

Orange County Schools: $32.2 million local budget, a $1.4 million increase

County employees: 2 percent raise, 6 weeks of paid parental leave

Solid waste/recycling: $128, a $21 increase

What’s a penny worth: $1.8 million for the county; $1.1 million for the city schools