Chapel Hill: Opinion

Your letters, June 21: Earl McKee, Greg McDonald, Elsbeth van Tongeren, Ray Thomas, Tom Brown and Michele Makrucki

Sadness and shock

There are no words to express the depth of our sadness and shock for the senseless killings at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. For more than 150 years this church has been a force for good in that community and the world, and provided a symbol of resilience and a beacon of hope when we have needed it most. This devastating news is keenly felt here.

Orange County and the entire country grieve for those families who are now enduring the darkest moments of their lives. We stand with them, and we lend our hearts, thoughts and prayers that we might provide a small safeguard against despair, and a buttress for strength. Acts like this cannot be understood or excused but know that your suffering is shared. It is only as citizens unified against the darkness that threatens us that we can move with hope toward the light that Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church will doubtlessly continue to shine.

Chair Earl McKee


Orange County Board of Commissioners

Simple solution

There have been several opinions posted by people on how inconvenienced they were for having to attend school a half day on a Saturday. There were even many good reasons provided to identify what those inconveniences were. I think that any half day school day is for getting hours in as opposed to the quality of education that a full day provides and opposed to it as well.

Which is why that while adding a few minutes to day to bank minutes may satisfy your inconvenience it may not do anything to improve the education of our children.

Simple solution; Designate the first three teacher work days as full days and as “snow bank days.” The first snow makeup days of the year have always been teacher work days so, this would help to ensure that teachers have those work days at the end of the year. If not all are used they should be returned to the teachers as additional “teacher work days.”

Greg McDonald

Chapel Hill

Clear the road

Just about every day I make my way through West Drive. For those of you who aren’t aware of it, a new building was erected on the corner of West Drive and Mason Farm Road, across from the parking garages for the staff of the UNC Medical complex.

It took a long time – maybe not by North Carolina standards but certainly in other parts of the country, like Atlanta (where I lived for several years). Off and on West Drive was closed off, the sidewalk was permanently closed. Finally the building was finished.

However, the construction trailers stayed on West Drive. That street must have been permanently leased to them, whether they are auxiliary generators or other “necessary” vehicles. Furthermore, other trucks park behind the trailers and block the street. Several buses take that route as well. The pavement itself is a disaster. What used to be a two-lane road has become an alley where people try to maneuver themselves into the parking garage or drive on to Mason Farm Road. Since there are often lost hospital visitors from out of town, driving 5 miles per hour looking for an entrance to the parking decks, two lanes would be very helpful.

It is stated time and again that Chapel Hill's policy is to encourage pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Closing a sidewalk permanently and allowing construction vehicles to remain beyond the years of active building is not in accordance with that stated objective

Elsbeth van Tongeren

Chapel Hill

Dividing teachers

The proposed budget that passed the N.C. House had funding for AP/IB teacher bonuses. This funding would provide for a $50 bonus payment (per student) to teachers of record for students achieving high grades on either the Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) exams (3 or higher on AP; 4 or higher on IB).

This proposal is modeled after a program in Florida to try to and create incentives for AP students and teachers in low-performing districts. Schools where few students take AP courses and even fewer then take the exam.

Although moves to raise teacher pay are welcome, we are concerned about implementation of this proposal in our school district and statewide for several reasons. Our primary concern is that creating incentives solely for AP teachers will only serve to draw experienced teachers away from our most fragile students. We also see this as a clear attempt to further link pay for test performance. As with any differential pay proposals, this will undoubtedly be a very divisive issue. Rewarding teachers of AP students will only serve to create antagonism between staff members in a culture where we strive to create a collaborative working environment. The house has budgeted $3.9 million for the next school year and $4.3 million for the following year to cover the costs of this bonus. We feel that there are far better ways to use this money to reach our neediest students.

As teachers at Carrboro High school, we have experience at both the standard level and AP level. One of us would have gained a bonus of $1300 if the AP bonus were in place last year. This would have been for teaching one section of AP Physics. In spite of the potential for a substantial bonus for AP performance, we firmly believe that the focus needs to be shifted to stronger incentives put in place for teachers working with lower-performing students in college ready classes (such as our standard level classes).

We encourage you to contact our legislators and ask them to remove this divisive proposal from the budget or at least to insert wording that would allow district can to use the monies in a flexible manner.

Ray Thomas

Tom Brown

Carrboro High

Light rail redux

In response to "Light rail riles neighbors,” (Wednesday, June 17) I agree with Mr. Wilson and then some. The light rail project makes no sense to me at all. Going through the motions for planning the various routes and stations and all this discussion surrounding which route to pick seems like a waste of time and money. I don't see the benefit of running any of the lines as proposed from Durham to UNC Hospitals as being worth the cost to taxpayers, the disruption and drawbacks to our communities, the effects on property values and even more noise from the addition of a rail line to the confluence of sound we already have from local highways and the interstate. It will not ease road congestion and may worsen it. The volume of ridership is questionable also.

If we were to have light rail at all, it would have made so much more sense to run the line from points in Durham to RTP, the Raleigh-Durham Airport, and downtown Raleigh. These are the places that many more commuters and other travelers need to get to.

I do not live in Downing Creek, or Meadowmont, or Falconbridge. But I do live in the area and also travel the route on Highway 54 to Chapel Hill Hospitals and other points in Chapel Hill regularly. If and when this rail line materializes it will affect our family's decision to continue to live in Southwest Durham as we have for the past nearly 19 plus years.

Michele Makrucki