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Public schools need community help

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WILMINGTON -- Our public schools need the community's help to achieve excellence. That was the message Tuesday morning at a State of the Schools forum hosted by the Greater Wilmington Chamber Foundation. Greater Wilmington Chamber Foundation Director Megan Winslett said, "The school system has so many needs and the business community wants to help. It's good for the business for us to have strong school systems here." Dozens of business leaders gathered at Cape Fear Community College to find out how the public school systems are performing and how they can help make them even better. Pender County Superintendent Allison Sholar hopes talking with local business men and women will help her be able to better prepare students for the working world. Sholar said, "We need them to role model for us. We need to know what the future work place is going to look like and we need to know the best ways to prepare our students for the future so they can become the entrepreneurs and the ones that support us in Pender County." Looking toward the future, Brunswick County Superintendent Katie McGee wonders where to put all of the students moving in to the area. "Challenges in our school system is definitely the growth in the county. When you compare 2000 to where we're planning to be in 2010 it's about the three times the amount of growth that we did have," McGee said. "Getting the facilities we need to house the amount of students is definitely a challenge." In New Hanover County Superintendent Dr. Al Lerch has already seen the benefits of a good relationship with the business community. Lerch said, "The things that we've already done, we've worked with Step Up Wilmington with a walking track between the chamber and PPD and the Step Up organization, these community collaborative are really healthy." The Greater Wilmington Chamber Foundation hopes to continue these types of collaborations throughout the school year. The Chamber Foundation says in the past, local businesses have helped school systems by providing funding, new programs and volunteers.

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