Erin Zureick

Education, politics and observations from Sanford

Partnership for Children lobbies state legislators

From the Lee County Partnership for Children:

RALEIGH – On Tuesday, child advocates from Lee County traveled to the N.C. General Assembly as part of Smart Start’s statewide, “Tuesdays for Tots” initiative. The constituents met with Lee County legislative delegation to discuss issues facing young children and working families.

The partnership coalition meets with Sen. Bob Atwater (center)

The partnership coalition meets with Sen. Bob Atwater (center)

“The Lee County Partnership for Children is committed to making sure all of our children start school healthy and ready to succeed. Doing so is critical for our children and our state to thrive,” said Lyn Hankins, executive director for the partnership. “However, the challenges facing working families are expanding and, as a result, our partnership is being asked to do more with less. Today’s meeting was an important step in helping our local legislative leaders better understand the needs of young children and working families in our community. Today’s children are North Carolina’s future leaders, parents and workers. Our state’s prosperity depends on their healthy development and growth. We cannot cut Smart Start funding.”

Tuesdays for Tots is Smart Start’s advocacy effort that takes place every year during the legislative session.  On Tuesdays, local Smart Start partnerships come to Raleigh for one-on-one meetings with legislators to educate lawmakers on Smart Start successes and discuss challenges facing young children and their families.

Smart Start is North Carolina’s nationally recognized and award-winning early childhood initiative designed to ensure that young children enter school healthy and ready to succeed.  Smart Start is a public-private initiative that provides early education funding to all of the state’s 100 counties.  Smart Start funds are administered at the local level through 78 local nonprofit organizations called Local Partnerships. The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc., (NCPC) is the statewide nonprofit organization that provides oversight and technical assistance for local partnerships.

Meeting with Rep. Jimmy Love Sr.

Meeting with Rep. Jimmy Love Sr.

Smart Start has experienced funding reductions over the past 8 years of $29.9 million. This amounts to a loss of $87.8 million when combined with the effects of inflation. These cuts are occurring at the same time that economists and other business leaders are advocating that investments in young children are one of the strongest investments not only for the short term but also for sustained growth and job creation. In fact, the North Carolina General Assembly’s Legislative Study Commission on Children and Youth concluded: “It is critical to ensure the healthy development of children in the State and improve outcomes for all children in order to ensure the future success of our State and our citizens.”

Local residents traveling to the North Carolina General Assembly today included: Lyn Hankins, LCPFC Executive Director, Cortney McCullough, LCPFC Outreach Coordinator, Eva Brown, Get Smart Child Care Center Director and Board member John Lipscomb, Lipscomb Woodcrafts.  The residents met with Rep. Jimmy Love Sr. and Sen. Bob Atwater.

May 27, 2009 Posted by | Education, Sanford | , , , | Leave a comment

N.C. House leaders drop proposal to shorten school year

According to the Associated Press, legislators have dropped a proposal in the N.C. House that would have shortened the 2009-10 school year for public schools by five days.

The decision was made Tuesday by the House education subcommittee, though it does not completely exclude the possibility that schools could be closed more days.

Budget proposals presented last week would have shortened the school year from the state-mandated 180 days to 175 days for the 2009-10 year and to 170 days for the 2010-11 year. Legislators are facing about a $4 billion hole in next year’s state budget.

May 26, 2009 Posted by | Education | | Leave a comment

Prepping for the EOGs

The End-of-Grade tests are rapidly coming up for students in North Carolina public schools. At one Chatham County Schools middle school, the students had a creative way of preparing.

Last week eighth-grade students at SAGE Academy participated in an EOG stress relief and review sponge throw. The students were divided into three teams and worked together by group to answer questions from teachers.

These questions covered test material, as well as test-taking tips and strategies.  If a group answered correctly, an individual member then got a chance to throw a sponge at Principal Daniel Haithcox or eighth-grade teacher Robert Templin.

“This was a fun way to review and focus for their EOG tests,”Haithcox said. “The students and teachers have worked really hard to prepare.  The least I could do was stand if as a target.  I think we all had a good time.”

May 24, 2009 Posted by | Education | , , | Leave a comment

Commissioner roundup

I’m back from Ohio and didn’t have a chance to do my normal roundup from the Lee County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday. My two stories in Tuesday’s paper talked about a potential new homeless shelter for Bread of Life Ministries and possible tax rate increases for some fire districts.

Several people spoke out during a public hearing at the meeting about the proposed 2009-10 fiscal year budget, which would shave 10 percent from this year’s budget.

Comments included:

  • Mike Gaster and David Dycus from the Lee Soil and Water board spoke out about the possible loss of one job from the two-person department. The eliminated position would be a secretarial job and some of those duties would be shifted to a secretary at the extension office. “It would be very crippling in the budget that one of those two positions would be eliminated,” Gaster said.
  • Russ Noel commented that the current budget at 122 pages is too long for the average citizen to read and comprehend. He said he would prefer if commissioners also issued a shorter statement that was structured like a balance sheet.
  • Susan Laudate, chairwoman of the Lee County Library board, expressed concern about proposed cuts because they might mean the library loses even more money from the state through its maintenance and effort funds. She said tough economic times mean more people than ever are using the libraries. “We’re just bursting at the seams,” she said.
  • Kay Ring, executive director of HAVEN in Lee County, said the state might slash 15 to 18 percent of funds next year. Lee County’s budget calls for a 4 percent cut. HAVEN works with victims of abuse and domestic violence.

May 22, 2009 Posted by | politics, Sanford | , , , | Leave a comment

Remembering

I will probably be neglecting this blog for the next few days while I travel home to Ohio for my grandmother’s funeral. She was 80 years old and a remarkable woman. She grew up during the Great Depression, was valedictorian of her high school and had 12 children.

After her youngest daughter graduated from high school, she followed her to college to fulfill her own dream of continuing her education. I can’t say enough good things about what she meant to me or her family. She was probably more technologically in tune than either of my parents. Strike that, she definitely was.

She kept up with my work at the Sanford Herald online and let me know she was proud of me. She also had a habit of sending old pictures she dug up of all of her grandchildren. Below is one such picture, taken I assume when I was about 4 years old with two of my siblings.

That's me on the left; my sister Alyson is in the center, and my brother Paul is on the right

That's me on the left; my sister Alyson is in the center, and my brother Paul is on the right

May 18, 2009 Posted by | Education | 2 Comments

Lee County school board meeting dates

From Lee County Schools:

The Lee County Board of Education will meet on the following dates:

1. Tuesday, 5/19/09, 5pm, Facilities and Technology Committee meeting, SCR, HEB.
2. Thursday, 5/21/09, 5pm, Finance and Personnel Committee meeting, SCR, HEB.
3. Monday, 5/25/09-All schools and the Central Office closed-Memorial Day holiday.
4. Sunday, 5/31/09, 3pm, Scholar’s Day, LCHS McLeod Auditorium.
5. Monday, 6/1/09, 5pm, CCCC Trustee Ad Hoc Committee meeting of the Lee County Board of Education, SCR, HEB.
6. Friday, 6/5/09, 9:30am, FLK, The Children’s Center  Preschool graduation, FLK gym.
7. Friday, 6/5/09, 7pm, FLK, The Children’s Center graduation, FLK gym.
8. Sunday, 6/7/09, 7:30pm, Baccalaureate Jonesboro Heights Baptist Church.
9. Tuesday, 6/9/09, 6pm, regular monthly Lee County Board of Education meeting, Commissioners’ Room, Lee County Government Center.
10. Thursday, 6/11/09, 7:30pm, LCHS graduation.
11. Friday, 6/12/09, 7:30pm, SLHS graduation.
12. Thursday, 6/18/09, 5pm, Finance and Personnel Committee meeting, SCR, HEB.
13. Tuesday, 6/23/09, 5pm, Facilities and Technology Committee meeting, SCR, HEB.
14. Tuesday, 6/30/09, 5pm, called Lee County Board of Education meeting, close out end of year finance, SCR, HEB.

Central Office summer schedule
June 15-August 14, 2009
7:30am-5:30pm     Monday-Thursday
7:30am-11:30am   Friday

May 15, 2009 Posted by | Education, Sanford | , | Leave a comment

Some school board notes

There were a few odds and ends that did not make it into today’s Herald from last night’s Lee County Board of Education meeting.

Most notably, Superintendent Jeff Moss said the district must return an additional $267,100 because of more state budget cuts from Gov. Bev Perdue. Those reductions will come from Lee County Schools’ non-instructional support line, Moss said.

Lee County Health Director Howard Surface also gave an update on the H1N1 virus, or swine flu. So far, there have been no reported cases in the county. He said one of the biggest concerns is that a more potent version of the virus will show up in time for the fall/winter flu season. The Lee County Board of Health has established a committee to examine how to respond to the virus, Surface said.

The demolition of the foreign language building at Lee County High School also is going forward. Maintenance and Facilities Director Jerry Pittman said clearance has been given for asbestos removal, and the building should be gone by middle or end of next week.

The school board also approved a tweaked superintendent evaluation policy. The policy states that board members will evaluate the superintendent formally and informally throughout the year.

May 13, 2009 Posted by | Education, Sanford | , , , | Leave a comment

I met Richard Petty

Thanks to Herald photographer Ashley Garner for snapping my photo after I talked to Richard Petty last week. Petty, a North Carolina native, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Small Business Banquet, sponsored by Central Carolina Community College’s Small Business Center and the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce.

I like NASCAR, but my little brother is a huge fan, so I think he was super jealous.

erin and petty

May 11, 2009 Posted by | Business, Sanford | , , , , | Leave a comment

Lee County Schools going more high tech

Lee County Schools is continuing to improve the way it communicates on its Web site.

Superintendent Jeff Moss has started doing a podcast on budget updates as that process continues throughout the spring and summer. (Download it here under Governor issues executive order — the latest podcast talks about employee furloughs mandated by Gov. Bev Perdue).

The latest agenda packets for the Lee County Board of Education also are now available on the Web site (see the agenda and individual items for Tuesday’s meeting here). The effort is part of a pledge by Moss to continue to make more information to the public easily accessible.

May 11, 2009 Posted by | Education, Sanford | , , , | Leave a comment

N.C. Senate passes anti-bullying measure

The N.C. Senate approved a bill this week that would force all schools to adopt an anti-bullying policy. That bill includes gay students as potential targets.

The most relevant parts of the legislation include this section:

BULLYING OR HARASSING BEHAVIOR INCLUDES, BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO, ACTS REASONABLY PERCEIVED AS BEING MOTIVATED BY ANY ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED DIFFERENTIATING CHARACTERISTIC, SUCH AS RACE, COLOR, RELIGION, ANCESTRY, NATIONAL ORIGIN, GENDER, SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS, ACADEMIC STATUS, GENDER IDENTITY, PHYSICAL APPEARANCE, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, OR MENTAL, PHYSICAL, DEVELOPMENTAL, OR SENSORY DISABILITY, OR BY ASSOCIATION WITH A PERSON WHO HAS OR IS PERCEIVED TO HAVE ONE OR MORE OF THESE CHARACTERISTICS; AND TO REQUIRE ALL LOCAL SCHOOL ADMINISTRATIVE UNITS TO ADOPT A POLICY PROHIBITING BULLYING AND HARRASSING BEHAVIOR AS REQUIRED BY THE ACT.

The bill will now go before the N.C. House.


May 7, 2009 Posted by | Education, politics | , | Leave a comment