Published: Jul 06, 2008 01:30 PM
Modified: Jul 06, 2008 01:30 PM
This is hardly the start anyone had in mind.
The Chapel Hill-Carrboro School district opened its third high school, Carrboro High, last August to great fanfare. The band played rousing music, local leaders gave speeches and incoming students cheered. Principal Jeff Thomas talked about the "anticipation and hunger" to get the year under way.
Things haven't turned out quite as well as everyone hoped. The district administration abruptly removed Thomas as principal and stripped nearly a dozen advanced placement and honors courses from the curriculum. Teachers' surveys indicated high levels of dissatisfaction, and in another survey 25 percent of students said morale at the school was poor.
The ouster of Thomas and the removal of the advanced courses caught parents off guard. Some were angry that parents' input wasn't sought before those decisions were made, and a group called the School Improvement Team hastily convened a meeting last week to talk about the situation.
Their frustration is understandable. Neither they nor we know exactly what led Superintendent Neil Pedersen to make the decision to remove Thomas, and we aren't likely to find out. Personnel privacy laws prevent Pedersen from talking about it.
Pedersen said the advanced courses were cut because of low demand for them, but he kept alive the possibility of restoring at least some of them.
All of this is worrisome, of course, to the families of Carrboro's students. Some of them said they are concerned that the school is heading for second-class status relative to Chapel Hill and East Chapel Hill high schools.
The district has an obligation not to let that happen. CHHS and East are very well-established, high-performing schools. Carrboro is just beginning the process of getting itself on its feet and establishing its identity. That will take time. It is by necessity something of a trial-and-error process, and it will require extra support and patience from the administration.
Carrboro's first year of operation revealed some problems -- hardly surprising in the startup of an operation as large and complex as a high school. The second year offers the opportunity to address them.
If you have a comment on today's editorial, please contact Dave Hart, associate editor, at 932-8744 or firstname.lastname@example.org