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New Hanover County school system discusses budget cuts and test scores

READ MORE: Discussions for New Hanover County around school budget cuts and test scores
There is a lot going on in the New Hanover County school system. The state released Adequate Yearly Progress results yesterday, and local school leaders say the low numbers do not reflect how much students are improving. On top of that, the school board needs to trim hundreds of thousands of dollars from the budget. Mary Hazel Small is New Hanover County Schools' Finance Officer. She and her committee have quite the task ahead of them; guide the school board in cutting about $360,000 from its budget, as requested by the county, with the possibility of state cuts to come. She made some recommendations at Thursday's school board meeting, none of which include firing anyone. "We're only looking at if a position becomes vacant, whether or not we need to fill it, or if we're able to keep it vacant for several months, we'll save that money," she said. Other ideas are to reduce workshop budgets, and to review all phases of the school system's operations to see where costs can be cut. School Board member, Nick Rhodes, said this is not an easy decision. "We have to make sure that wherever the cuts occur that we try in everything we can to make sure we don't impact service delivery to our students," Rhodes said. Thursday's meeting falls on the same day North Carolina’s Adequate Yearly Progress results were released, which is testing required under No Child Left Behind. Only 10 out of 38 New Hanover County schools that were tested made the grade, and schools spokesperson Valita Quattlebaum said it is because the standards are higher than in years past. Students are tested as subgroups, based on categories like race, their economic situation, and learning disabilities. If one subgroup does not pass both math and reading tests, the entire school is considered a failure. Quattlebaum said, "We are up to the challenge and the kids are ready. They're going to do it. I have no doubt that within a few years you'll see a dramatic difference in these results." Quattlebaum mentioned that there will be more resources poured into the schools that did not pass, and school officials say that help will not be affected by the budget cuts.

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they should look north at Pender County. Posted results were pretty reasonable. We don't have the crime rate and we do have public housing throughout the county. One other thing we seem to have is an abundance of responsible parents who are involved in every aspect of their children's lives.


That's it. home-schooling. Unless you went to school around here and can't read, write and do math yourself. Then put your kids in another home, Church or private school if you can. Many "parents" see public schools as taxpayer funded day care. Good news? Home-school your child and he won't have much competition in his (her) pier group in this area.


My child used to love to read. Then my child started AR. Now my child's love for reading has gone away. Not only do children who take AR tests have to meet a percentage goal (based on the test scores), they also have to meet a points goal (based on how many points the book is worth). In other words the more difficult the book, the more points its worth. In one semester my child read at least 30 books. Just to be sure the goals were met. Library time is a thing of the past. The library is now a place you go, return your books, check out your next books and return to class within 15mins.


It is not only the school systems fault, it is also the parents fault too. Kids are not passing is due to parents b/c when kids get home from school parents let them play Playstation, Xbox and be on the computer for hours. If parents would cut off the games and teach your children then maybe they would retain more. I know parents are tired when they get home from work, but what is more important!!! Kids are NOT learning from these games!!!! Teachers are doing what they can, but parents need to step up!!!!

wrong wrong wrong

You all have it wrong. It is not the teachers, or the school. They have teachers in every level of education at all schools. They have the same paper, pencils, books, computers, printers,projectors, etc. etc. etc. It is the students. It is the parents. It is the discipline. Kids don't do homework much anymore. They don't study. They don't pay attention. They text, talk, play in their purses,check out early, write notes to one another, worry about what happened with "Bob and Cindy" in the cafeteria yesterday, etc. etc. They don't care and don't want to learn. And I'm tired of hearing about teacher's salaries. What job in the whole entire U.S.A. do you know of where you get a 12 week vacation every summer, a week for Thanksgiving, two weeks for Chrismtas, a week for Spring Break, every holiday, every weekend, every night, and every snow storm off work? They work not even 200 days a year and whine like a baby. Most people get a two week vacation and that's it!! And that's only if you've been there a long time!!

To ohboyyall, you have no

To ohboyyall, you have no clue what it's like to be a teacher. Why don't you go to work with 24 kids all day long and get asked questions at the end of the day, week, year about each students' performance, what went wrong, what did you do to help them, etc. Maybe if they weren't checking out every week to go to a football game in Raleigh, Disney World, or dance competition we would have time to teach them more. The summer "vacation" is not paid, by the way. We get no check from May 31 to August 31. Does that sound like a luxury job? The people you refer to that get two weeks, are paid for that two weeks! Most teachers work from 7:00-5:00 everyday, then take work home every night, weekend, and holiday. Even when we don't we are constantly reading, learning, and trying to get better. I love my job and think that teachers are doing a great job, but people like you make it harder everyday! You make it obvious though that ignorance must be combatted, so we continue!

one or two corrections

every teacher I know or have known is offered the choice of payroll on a 12 month basis or on a school year basis. You made a choice if you are paid only while school is in session. Do you think in the real world, the world outside the classroom, that most full time employees do not also work 7:00 to 5:00? Do you think they do not bring work home to complete? Do you think they do not have continuing education requirements to maintain? As I said in a previous post, let your emotions cool down before posting. Your emotions feed some of these posters to even greater heights of non-thinking.


Until this last August teachers in NHCO were not offered the option of receiving pay for 12 months for the past several years. The general assembly passed a law this summer stating that local school districts had to offer that option to employees. So maybe you don't know what you're talking about after all. Anyway, it's the same amount spread out over 12 months instead of 10. Any fool would sign up for two extra months pay if that's what it really was! What I was saying is that we don't get paid for the two months we don't work, as the other poster implied. I don't expect to be paid for those two months, but I was clarifying the statement made that we get vacation all summer and comparing it to an employee that gets two weeks of paid vacation. Whether we choose to get 12 paychecks or 10 we're still not PAID for those two months.

Teachers jobs are there

There is no competition. They have no need to do better. The teachers union protects them. Why should they improve? Nope, they shouldn't. I say they need a wake up, fire the non-performers, cut costs from them and give "change" to those that make a difference. Then we shall see a change. Barack Obama will do this. Thank gosh he got elected. The money should follow the children not follow the direction the government decides the children should go. I voted for Obama so he could fire teachers that do not perform. And the time is now.


There is no real teacher's union in NC, just an association that lobbys for change, etc.

Wow, the reasons I hear

Wow, the reasons I hear about why people voted for Obama just keep getting stranger and stranger. Who is he going to fire? He was endorsed by the National Education Association - the largest teachers' association in the country. What do you think the NEA would say if he gave the go ahead to fire a bunch of their members? That is, of course, if he even had the authority to fire teachers in the first place. The hiring and firing of teachers is a local matter - feds have no jurisdiction.


Do you really think that he will fire non-performing teachers? He will never be able to do that. And it would be an injustice. Most of the teachers are doing what they should and it is the students and parents who are failing. Maybe Obama should go after non-performing parents now that would make a huge difference.

I believe

you over-reacted and did not read his post unemotionally. I just read it and it appears his comments were directed at students and not at teachers. Sometimes it pays to let emotions cool down before speaking.


OH dear, Please tell me you're not a teacher!!! You can't even read and comprehend what you're reading.You are saying almost the exact things I said about children checking out early and such. You receive and annual salary. Regardless of what months you receive a check, you still get an annual salary. That salary is comparable with someone who works a whole entire year.And I have sent 3 kids through school, and never ever ever have I been to a school and seen a teacher there more than 30 minutes after school ends, so don't give me that mess about staying until five oclock, maybe once a month, but not often.Please consider another job. We don't need adults in our schools calling people "ignorant" on the internet when it is that teacher who is unable to comprehend a simple paragraph or two.

Yes I can read and

Yes I can read and understand a paragraph, I was mainly referring to your comment about salary. If the teachers you know are leaving at 3:00 they are probably going to their second job. I don't know what school you are referring to but many teachers at that school would be insulted by your comment because I'm sure many do stay late more than once a month. If teachers all left at 3:00 everyday then the test scores would be way lower! Since the county is in such a financial crisis, close the doors everyday at 3:00 to save money. At the end of the year, we'll see if it paid off when the test scores come in. The ones who stay late are the ones that are making a difference. You can't do your job working until 3.

When my kids were in

When my kids were in elementary school, I used to correct the spelling in any notes I got home from the teacher and then send them back to her. I never got a note that did not have either grammatical or spelling errors. Yes, teachers get paid a yearly salary and it is up to them how they receive it. And if they take it in nine months, they are teachers so are they not capable of sitting down and drawing up a budget for themselves? When I was in the sixth grade in 1972, I went to an elementary school in WV that went from grade one through six. There was one class of students per grade and there were two grades per teacher. My sixth grade teacher had over sixty students to tend to by herself. She did grade planning, teaching, testing, and grading for both the fifth and sixth grade. She had no assistants. She had no parent volunteers, and you would never dream of hearing a teacher complain publicly about their salary, because back then people became teachers because they were interested in educating the future of this country. My kids are in high school now, but when they were in elementary school here, their teachers had at least one and sometimes two paid assistants. As parents, we were encouraged to spend as much time as possible volunteering in our childrens' classes. There were days I volunteered that the teacher might have spent ten minutes in the room, and all we hear is about how underpaid the teachers are in this state. What I have wondered for years is why would anyone spend the money to complete four years of college to get a position in a profession where the majority of the employees are unhappy with the compensation? Just choose a more lucrative profession in the first place, and leave the teaching to those who are more concerned with educating the kids instead of complaining about the wages.


Before you sit back and arm chair quarterback, you need to educate yourself. My wife is a teacher; she goes in at 6:30am every morning to prepare for the day. She gets home anywhere between 6pm and 8pm EVERY DAY. When she gets home she grades papers. She does this because she cares for her students. Much more than most of the parents she deals with. Its real easy to sit back and criticize and blame everyone else. What are you doing to make things better besides bellyaching? Why don't you volunteer at your kids' school? Then you would see what really happens at school. Do you read with your kids every day? Do you help with and check over their homework every night? Probably not. You have no idea what you are talking about.

Dumb and Dumber

I have two children in the New Hanover County School system who are both in Elementary schools. This year they were moved from Bradley Creek to College Park. Bradley Creek is a high performing school and College Park is severly lacking sufficient grades on the AYP. I was told by school board members that since my children are not in 3rd, 4th or 5th grade that they did not fall under the transfer guidelines for low performing schools. In essence, this means that my children can be taught by a "dumb school" for Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd and once they are in 3rd grade and have to take the EOG's they can be transfered back to Bradley Creek. What sense does this make? How far behind will my children be?

Actually, both Bradley Creek

Actually, both Bradley Creek and College Park are low-performing schools in that both schools consistently fail to meet the state average for proficiency in both reading and math. College Park is closer to the state average in Reading scores than Bradley Creek, but their math scores are lower. Bradley Creek did make Adequate Yearly Progress, but that doesn't really give the entire picture. You can go to to check not only your school's test scores, but to also view subgroup performance. That is the only way to truly assess how well you can expect your child to do at your school. What is truly frightening is that North Carolina develops its own test. There is no way to gauge how well our students are doing in comparison to the rest of the country.

"What is truly frightening

"What is truly frightening is that North Carolina develops its own test"- I agree it is frightening considering how north carolina voted.

Another banner year!

Remember, the goal of public education is to provide only enough education to provide for the students to one day find employment and begin paying taxes to fund the governmental systems. We don't want them TOO smart - they might start asking questions we don't think we should have to answer. As long as we keep them ignorant and uninformed we can elect Socialists from now on! "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need," right? (BTW, if you want to see exactly where our nation stands, take the time to review one of these "misleading" tests. You'll then see who is really being misled.)

"(BTW, if you want to see

"(BTW, if you want to see exactly where our nation stands, take the time to review one of these "misleading" tests. You'll then see who is really being misled.)" It really appears that you have not reviewed one of these "misleading" tests. These test are "difficult". They do have high expectations. Everyone would love to believe that when they went to school, things were harder and better. The truth is... the expectations have risen, and keep rising. There is more knowledge in the world every day. Every year we are expected to transfer more of it to our students. Take a released 8th grade test. See how well you do. Then see if it makes sense. You are right about the tests being bad. But that is how the FEDS and DPI want use to assess sudents' learning. It is sad...but they are not Dumb. The scores are what are misleading.

They SHOULD have high expectations

Tests are not supposed to be a walk in the park. They should be difficult. As long as the material was covered, you should have no reservations or regrets about giving them a bear of a test. No need to worry, however. Just as we are seeing with the SAT and ACT, if they can't meet the standards, we'll eventually discard the standards. After all, formal testing makes it SO difficult to pass morons onto higher grades or give them diplomas without having to know anything...and we all know the goal is to make them "functional, but not fantastic."

Things were

harder and better in my youth. I had grade expectations to meet if I wanted to play ball or wrestle. If my grades fell, I never had to worry about the school or coach sitting me down. That happened at home. My upbringing did not allow me to roam the streets at 3:00 AM participating in a gang or some after hours job selling non-presecription drugs. I had a curfew 7 nights a week. No excuses for being late. I had behavioural expectations in the neighborhood. Embarass the family with my behaviour and it was walk to the barn for some motivation. Responsibility and accountability began at the home. We did not have or need social service workers. Guidance Counselors helped us with our school or vocational choices. We did not have "no child left behind" or achievment testing to determine if we moved ahead. Of course school funding was from a state and not a national level. Perhaps we need a return of accountability neginning at the home. Perhaps more parents need to be accountable for what their children are doing. I wonder how the test scores read for those youngsters whose parents are actively involved in their child's life.

Research shows that the more

Research shows that the more a parent is involved in their child's education, the higher the achievement overall. Many parents don't care, don't look at work/homework, don't attend conferences, PTA meetings, etc. That is a HUGE reason for poor student performance each year. I know parents are busy, I am too, but you have to do your job as a parent, or don't have kids! Look at the scores from NHCO schools, the schools where there is a lot of parent involvement are higher performing schools. I wonder why?

how is the school system spending it's money?

I believe there is a lot of wasted money being spent by the school on certain technologies. For instance, my company, which helps schools with their websites and provides a great tool to help with the educator-parent-student interaction process, is completely ignored while the County spends over $100,000 in time and labor creating an in-house solution. I ask how many other projects or how is other money being spent by County's school board in ways that doesn't make sense? I'm sure there's quite a bit of waste and a lot of it is due to a lack of accountability and questions by the school board and superintendent.

There is quite a bit of

There is quite a bit of waste at all levels. For instance, the State Department of Instruction develops its own student assessment tests. Many states purchase off-the-shelf products for their tests. Not only does the state waste money by insisting that North Carolina students need a North Carolina test, there is no real way to gauge how well our students are performing in comparison to other states. I could go on and on.