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Old 03-17-2008, 06:29 AM
 
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Default Public schools in Chapel Hill

Just a quick question if anyone has insight - I've read about how Wake County doesn't really have local schools (chance your child could get bussed around). What about Orange county? Does anyone have an opinion on the public schools there? (Most of the places we've been looking at are in Cary and Wake Forest, but there are a few in the southern part of Chapel Hill area we are looking at as well - school situation could be clincher one way or other).

thanks!
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Old 03-17-2008, 07:50 AM
 
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Chapel Hill schools are known to be the top in the state, but it depends on what your kids' needs are (I say kids' needs, but often what parents want and kids need can be different). Please note--there are two school systems in Orange County: CHCCS and OCS. If you go "google" Orange County schools, you may not get the right information. Moreover, be aware that even if you have a Chapel Hill address you may be districted either in CHCCS or OCS, it depends.
That said, let me try to give you a lowdown on the 2 school systems:
elementary age, they are pretty equal
Middle school, based on a report done a few years ago there appears to be a disparity
High school, the gap widens

Again, that said--CHCCS is known to have very high test scores. I am going to take alot of flack about this, b/c no one really wants to address some of the uglier aspects. There is much discussion about whether the kids are taught to the test or not, but one thing that is not openly discussed but is heard alot amongst folks once you are here is that for the average learner there is a great deal of competition and stress to perform. Does that mean the kids at HS level are unhappy? Certainly not.

OCS--solid, average schools. One elementary school though is in jeopardy of losing Title 1 funding b/c of a 2nd yr of AYP not met (that school if I recollect correctly has something like 67% receiving FRL). Middle schools--one has an excellent math program, the others are average. While the core courses are standardized, you will find a big difference btw the 2 HS (what other programs they offer). CHRS has the only IB program in the county.
No real issues with bussing in either school system, except when a new school opens which the CHCCS seems to have more of (one new HS this past year, with a middle school to open next year).
Neil Pederson is the super of CHCCS and has been with the system a long time. He has a true vision and has done well. OCS has just hired a new super, but he is one who has taught in the system and then moved to the Durham School systems (as upper level administrator) and come back--so he has a history with OCS. That can be a good thing.
Hope all this info helps.
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Old 03-17-2008, 11:20 AM
 
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Just adding to the pp's warning about having a CH address but being districted in another system...you can buy in CH and be in Durham County, thus your children will attend Durham schools. it's rare, but if you're interested in CH because of the schools, be sure you check what district your house is in.
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Old 03-17-2008, 11:30 AM
 
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As to the rest of the question, no, you do not get bussed around in Chapel Hill like you do in Wake. As was mentioned, there are 2 distinct school systems in Orange County. One is the Orange County school district. The other is the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district. I'll only speak to the CHCCS district b/c you mentioned Chapel Hill specifically.

In Chapel Hill/Carrboro there is what is called a "walk zone" around each school. It's usually about a mile in each direction, but does vary a bit. If you buy a house within the walk zone, you cannot be redistricted--you will go to the neighborhood school.

So what if you're not in the walk zone? Most kids will still be districted to the closest schools but there are exceptions, so do be sure to look and see which school they're districted for. There is FAR less redistricting in CHCCS than Wake. For the most part, it only happens when a new school opens, which is not often. A new elementary is opening next year and a new high school just opened, so there was some redistricting just finalized. However...that is the exception, not the rule.

Wake County has tremendous growth so they are in constant flux trying to make sure all the kids' needs are met. CHCCS is made up only of Chapel Hill and Carrboro and they are fairly close to being built out, so there is nowhere near as much growth, hence more stability in the school districting plan.

Also consider whether you want year-round or traditional calendar. CHCCS is traditional calendar.
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Old 03-18-2008, 09:34 AM
 
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Thanks for the info, everyone, that is very helpful. We're looking at a couple places that have a Chapel Hill address, though they are south of the center of Chapel Hill (like Fearrington Village area). I'll look closely at the districting for those houses. Thanks again!
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Old 03-18-2008, 09:50 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasok11 View Post
Thanks for the info, everyone, that is very helpful. We're looking at a couple places that have a Chapel Hill address, though they are south of the center of Chapel Hill (like Fearrington Village area). I'll look closely at the districting for those houses. Thanks again!
Oh--forgot to mention that some CH addresses are in Chatham County--a neighborhood close to FV likely is....
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Old 03-18-2008, 12:58 PM
 
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Hmm, thanks for pointing that out. I read something about Chatham county schools needing mobile classrooms, as well as not being quite as stellar as some of the ones in Wake or Orange. My head hurts...
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Old 03-18-2008, 08:36 PM
 
Location: Maryland
15 posts, read 25,691 times
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Default Public Schools in OCS

Quote:
Originally Posted by ausmerika View Post
OCS--solid, average schools. One elementary school though is in jeopardy of losing Title 1 funding b/c of a 2nd yr of AYP not met (that school if I recollect correctly has something like 67% receiving FRL). Middle schools--one has an excellent math program, the others are average. While the core courses are standardized, you will find a big difference btw the 2 HS (what other programs they offer). CHRS has the only IB program in the county.
Ausmerika: Thank you so much for a very informative post!! My husband and I are planning a potential move from Maryland. Without going into the messy details, Maryland has a tremendous public school education problem. We can count on one hand the number of friends and family whose children are in public school. We're looking into the Chapel Hill/Carrboro or Hillsborough area for the same reason most others who move to the area are, perhaps: good schools. To put it squarely, we're tired of paying what we do in after-tax income for a private education for two children, not to mention paying for after-school sports and activities that require one or both of us to hustle the kids back and forth and to and fro. We love our home, our friends and neighbors but just can't keep going down this road with high school on the horizon. Here, you either hold your breath and hope to get into a half decent magnet school or you suck it up and squeeze out (on average) $15K a year for private high school. We love NC for many reasons but the one thing that is non-negotiable is the school issue. We absolutely do NOT want to make such a big move only to wind up in a failing school district, forcing us right back into a private school setting.

My question is this: how can I find out, specifically, which schools those are that you mention above?

Thanks so much,
Z.
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Old 03-18-2008, 09:03 PM
 
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Zorabee, you don't by any chance live in PG County do you? :0 Anyway, you should be able to find out the schools in jeopardy thru an online search. When I can, I'll try to get that info to you. What grades are your kids? What are their strengths?
Just fyi for OCS--the MS that has a strong math program is Stanford (an older school, but don't judge a book by it's cover). The newest is Gravelly Hill, so no real stats yet.
CRHS is the school with the IB program. The strongest elementary is Cameron Park and HES (but HES is a year round school of choice, and to be honest embroiled in part of the issue tied in with Central, the elementary with high FRL). Ok--how's that for a taste for now.
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Old 03-19-2008, 07:36 AM
 
Location: Maryland
15 posts, read 25,691 times
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Default Public Schools in OCS

Ausmerika:

No I don't live in PG County ... I'm a little further up in Balt County. Same issues, I suspect. Overgrowth with little (if any) thought given to where the children in the 150 new McMansions will go to school, how the one little road that leads into and out of those developments will accommodate the average 2 cars (or two SUVs) per household....I could go on but I won't. Are you from MD?

I went to CRHS's website and will do some more looking around online today. We're taking a road trip to Chapel Hill this weekend so I'll have a look around the areas that surround the schools you mentioned. Thank you so very much.

Oh, and to answer your question: both of my children are science/environment lovers. My daughter is a finalist in the school's science fair this year and is going on to regionals. Sixth grade. Her project focused on "Is The Sun A Reliable Source of Energy?" She got the idea when we where in NoVa (Northern VA) at the Air/Space Museum, looking at the satellites and such. She was fascinated that she can connect a few wires to a small solar panel and create enough energy to power her radio. My son is in 2nd grade...fascinated by oceans and fish and the rock/mineral project that his class did. He asked us all a trivia question last night -- "can we eat rocks?" And when we looked at him with furrowed brows and said, "Not really"....he said "Wrong! Salt is a rock." He was so thrilled with himself. Very, very inquisitive little guy.
We want a set of schools that will help capture that, nurture that inquisitiveness and that will offer a curriculum with options for any child who wants to be there....rather than this lotto system that pits parents, kids, and districts against one another in truly horrible ways.

Again, thank you so very much and anything else you can think of will be greatly appreciated ! It can be really hard to do things over a distance but this forum makes it a bit easier.

Z.
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