More school counselors
Nearly 100 students and parents associated with Durham CAN recently gathered at Durham Public Schools central offices to demand that the school board boost the capacity of counseling services.
Counseling addresses issues ranging from youth crime and safety to mental health, and the preparation of Durham’s future labor force.
Our research shows that DPS high schools have a student to counselor ratio of 350:1, while the national recommended ratio is 250:1. The two lowest-performing high schools in the district have the highest counselor to student ratios. Many counselors are overwhelmed by their workloads, and most cannot communicate with their Spanish-speaking students.
With that in mind, youth demanded that DPS:
▪ conduct an internal review to determine ways to increase the effectiveness of school counseling and the amount of time counselors spend working directly with students,
▪ commit to fill all vacant positions with bilingual counselors, and
▪ hire three additional counselors, at least one who is bilingual, for the upcoming school year, and place them at our three lowest performing high schools: Northern, Southern, and Riverside
If Durham is serious about solving problems of youth crime, violence and disconnection, then investment from our elected and business leaders should be a no-brainer.
Jordan High School
Rotary: Hear them roar!
I want to tell you about an event that took place at Wednesday’s performance of “The Lion King” at DPAC.
Every year for the past four years, the downtown Durham Rotary Club (the largest club in the region with approximately 200 members) has selected a SunTrust Broadway Show at the Durham Performing Arts Center to attend as a group. We purchase 50 tickets, organize a catered reception before the show, and sell tickets to our members. The profit goes to the Brown Family Scholarship, a $1,000 award that is given to a Durham high school senior each year.
Rotary members have urged us to choose a performance that was family-oriented, so this year we selected “The Lion King.” One of our members, Judge Nancy Gordon, had a brilliant idea – why not invite some children from low-income families who had never been to a theater performance. Since East Durham Children’s Initiative (EDCI) president David Reese is also a member of our Rotary Club, we approached him with the idea. David, his staff and his board were thrilled.
We sold tickets to Rotarians (there was a pre-show party for the grownups at Tobacco Road); other club members generously pledged donations to cover the cost of the EDCI tickets. Some ticket-holders even made donations in addition to purchasing their own tickets! As a result, we were able to treat the kids and their caretakers to a free show while still raising money for our scholarship fund.
Bottom line: Our Rotary Club donated 16 tickets so that 12 EDCI children and four guardians/caretakers could attend the performance. I was waiting to escort them into the Broadway Lounge before we took our seats, because the first time I went to the DPAC I was wowed to say the least – and I wasn’t an elementary school kid either! General Manager Bob Klaus and his staff were kind enough to donate the use of the lounge for the evening, so Rotarians and our guests gathered there for cupcakes and lemonade before the show.
Our seats were in the second and third rows of the balcony. I could hardly wait to see the look on those kids’ faces when the puppets all paraded in for the first act!
Carver C. Weaver
Durham Rotary Club
Light rail reaction
Editor’s note: Staff writer Bruce Siceloff’s article on the Durham-Orange Light Rail Project clearing another federal hurdle (DN, bit.ly/1Rc9rX6) generated much response, including
James Murphy: I have lived in two cities where rail is an integral part of the multimodal transit infrastructure and traveled to many others. I took advantage of rail transit at every opportunity. Instead of sucking exhaust fumes in 5 mph-rush hour traffic, I could read news or do work on my laptop. Others who preferred to drive trapped in rush-hour traffic were of course free to do so. I am pleased that rail is finally on its way to my hometown of Durham, because I’ve experienced its convenience in other cities. We will finally have transit options rather than being forced to use one method of getting around.
Lisa Brach: The 2011 “vote” on the tax referendum stated only that the money was to be used for public transportation. Nowhere in the referendum did it state that any portion of the tax monies would be devoted to light rail. Only 17 percent of the registered voters in Durham County turned out to vote in 2011. Of the 17 percent who voted 7 percent voted against the tax referendum and only 10 percent voted in favor on the nonspecific transportation tax. So, in real numbers only 16,754 people voted for a generic transportation tax referendum. Out of those 16,754 voters how many were really in favor of the Light Rail when it was not made clear in the referendum we will never know. What we do know is that 10 percent of registered voters is certainly not the majority. Officials, GoTriangle and news reporters need to stop the deception of stating that the majority of Durham voters are in favor of the light rail. If everyone is so sure that the majority of Durham’s residents are in favor of 17 miles of track which will not go to the RTP, to Raleigh, to Hillsborough or Carrboro or downtown Chapel Hill or even a major mall and yet place Durham, then be brave enough to put it on the ballot during a major election year like this one 2016! Have a real vote with a true representation of whether or not we want to incur a debt that will last years longer than the technology being planned for an inflexible train system!
Christopher Rose: If Eisenhower’s interstate highway system was scrutinized and held to the same standards as light/heavy rail projects we’d still be driving on gravel roads today. Some people really do just lack vision. If you want to see how light rail can transform things just look at the transformations to transportation and building patterns when the interstate highway system was built. If you build it, they will come.
Deborah Fulghieri: I think the whole purpose of the Durham-Orange Light Rail project is to transform the rural area between U.S. 15-501 and N.C. 54 near I-40 into hyperdense mixed-use development: “Leigh Village,” with 3,400 dwellings and numerous parking decks (a plan presented to the Chapel Hill Planning Board a few years ago), and “Hillmont,” or alternately, “Woodmont,” a similar build-out planned for Barbee Chapel Road south of N.C. 54, presented a couple of years ago. The rail is a major business opportunity to build, and I repeat that the planned route does not serve the existing, densifying commercial corridor in Orange County along U.S. 15-501.
Stephen Gore Jr.: As someone who lives in Raleigh I am jealous of this possibility! It works wonders in Charlotte, so why the heck wouldn’t it here? Some people are just so stuck in their ways it isn’t even cute.
Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit project
A 17-mile, double-track line from UNC Hospitals to Duke/VA medical centers and downtown Durham, ending at Alston Avenue. With 17 stations.
Where the trains will go: Follow N.C. 54, I-40 and U.S. 15-501, travel up the median of Erwin Road and then follow the N.C. Railroad tracks.
Park and ride: 5,100 parking spaces at 8 stations.
Light-rail trains: Powered from overhead electric wires. Each train starting with one or two cars, with future option for three cars. Each car seats 40-60, with up to 125 riders including those standing.
Service hours: 5:30 a.m. to midnght. Every 10 minutes during morning and afternoon rush hours, otherwise every 20 minutes.
Expected travel time, end to end: 42-44 minutes.
Cost: $1.6 billion: 50 percent federal, the rest shared state and local.
Timetable, depending on funding: Construction starts 2019, service starts 2026.
Durham-Orange corridor transit boardings each day: 40,000 (23,000 light rail, 17,000 bus)
Population near light-rail stations: 53,000
Jobs near stations: 119,000