Chapel Hill: Opinion

Your letters,March 9

School vouchers counter-productive

Re “The case for school vouchers” by Darrell Allison (CHN, Feb. 29,

I'm really confused what Allison’s point is. Public school systems can change. And to meet the needs of the vast majority of students in this country, they must.

The choices he references are not serving everyone, and are not capable of scaling to do so. Therefore, to succeed as a nation we need public school systems to innovate and improve. Diverting funding and focus to other places only hampers that goal.

I would never deny that students should choose to go to school in the place that serves them best (and public school systems aren't always the answer for everyone). But as a matter of public policy, to serve the most, we need to bring focus back to delivering great education where most students are. Vouchers to private schools, in particular, are extremely counter-productive in that regard (not to mention unconstitutional).

James Barrett

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education


The real issue

Re “The case for school vouchers” by Darrell Allison (CHN, Feb. 29,

I think the author is spot on in saying that "...the real issue may have more to do with the major decline and devastation in the communities that surrounds the school." - so how does tearing apart our public schools help fix that? In fact, vouchers and charter schools leave behind those same students who are most at risk.

Bridget Mora


Hold off on E-F plan

Considering the Ephesus-Fordham planning: Why does a city or town permit new development – commercial or residential? Reasons include:

• hope to increase tax revenue

• engage unproductive land

• provide places for more businesses or residences

• accommodate a developer’s proposal

• presupposition that more development is always good

Why are citizens skeptical of new development? Reasons include:

• concern that taxes will increase to pay for underestimated infrastructure construction, and -

• underestimated infrastructure continued maintenance, and -

• underestimated fire, school, police, etc. costs

• concern that every municipal project is always underestimated

• object to design or appearance; visual intrusion

• concern that out-of-town developers take profits at town’s expense, financial or aesthetic

• skeptical of need for additional business or residence sites

• can displace existing small local businesses or long-existing residences

• increase traffic

• cause or increase erosion and flooding

There is a manifest expectation by the citizens of a town that its governing bodies will use stringent diligence to make sure that the envisaged advantages of development will accrue, and disadvantages will not. As regards the current Ephesus-Fordham (E-F) project, it seems that only best-case scenarios have been projected by the Town’s Council and staff.

At the public meetings and in published media, there is condescension toward questions and concerns. Hard, cautious data on financing, traffic, stormwater management, design (7 stories?), a need for more commercial space, and genuine concern for existing local business displacement are have not been evident.

It seems most agree that some revitalization would be appropriate in the E-F area, but, in reviewing the two lists above, there is considerable concern that our town is being compromised, and our decision-makers are not grappling with the grit of reality.

Let’s hold off on the Town Council’s form-based code vote until we get much more and much better information.

John Chambers

Chapel Hill

Plan has drifted

The Ephesus-Fordham small area plan began four years ago as a promising collaboration between town staff and residents. Together, with the help of various outside consultants, we articulated a vision for how new construction in the northeast part of town could yield a variety of benefits to the community, including reduced flooding in adjacent neighborhoods, an increased stock of affordable housing, improved traffic flow, and a more aesthetically pleasing public realm. Unfortunately, the proposed new zoning regulations will produce something far different and less desirable than what we were led to expect.

For example, the residents who participated in the 2010 Ephesus-Fordham Compass study indicated that two- and three-story buildings would produce the most desirable density for the area. However, the town staff and consultants who prepared the small area plan document that was adopted in 2011 translated the public

This is but one of the many ways in which the proposed rezoning plan fails to deliver on the early promise of the collaborative Ephesus-Fordham planning process. We still don't know what the whole thing will cost or whether the proposed redevelopment will ever actually produce any net economic benefit to the town. The one thing we do know is that the plan has drifted far from the vision we articulated. It

Judy Morris

Susan Bernstein

Chapel Hill

Wake up, villagers

Re the editorial “The small kingdom on the hill,” (CHN, Feb. 26,

Thank you for this eloquent summary of recent “developments” to our once wonderful jewel of a town. I hope the busy villagers wake up before both baby and bathwater are gone. There is still time to polish our jewel.

Debbie Jepson


Remembering James Pruett

The Department of Music mourns the passing of distinguished alumnus and Professor Emeritus James W. Pruett, who died on Feb. 26 at the age of 81.

A native of Mt. Airy, N.C., Pruett began his lifelong connection with the department as an undergraduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill. After completing his bachelor of arts in 1955, he went on to earn a master of arts (’57) and doctor of philosophy (’62) in the department, and to marry fellow music graduate student Lilian Pivernik (M.A. ’57, Ph.D. ’60). Pruett joined the UNC music faculty in 1961, where he served alongside his wife for many years. After 10 years as department chair (1976–1986), Pruett left UNC in 1987 to become chief of the Music Division at the Library of Congress, a post he held until his retirement in 1995.

Pruett’s legacy of leadership at UNC and the Library of Congress continue to be fondly remembered, and to find concrete expression in the Department of Music’s Pruett Summer Research Fellowships. The fellowships fund a summer of archival work at the LOC’s Music Division for three UNC musicology graduate students each year. Gifts in Pruett’s memory may be directed to The Pruett Fellowship Fund; The Department of Music; Hill Hall, CB# 3320; Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3320, or donations made online at

Department of Music