Keep Busing Facts Straight

BOCC Survey
OCS BOE Survey
Fact Or Fiction?
Media Personnel
About Us


PRESS RELEASE from – for immediate release 08July2004

Keeping the facts straight on busing and school merger is a major issue in County Commissioners race

The school merger proposal was launched with great fanfare about supposed massive capital savings, which could only occur if students from CHCCS were bussed into every empty space in existing OCS schools. The county merger information included explicit predicted numbers for moving students outside their current school district. What may be most disturbing in recent developments is the disingenuous nature of the repeated pronouncement by the incumbents that there will be no busing in a merged system. Mark Peters, a member of the steering committee, says "This fallacy has been repeated numerous times at public campaign forums.  The ability to determine busing zones and criteria lies within the legal jurisdiction of the school boards.  A future school board with overcrowded schools would have to balance the numbers by busing students." has always seen its first responsibility to inform the electorate about the facts surrounding potential school merger, as well as candidates’ positions on merger.    The statistics and reports we use come primarily from the Orange County, NC official web-site: Others are from the NC Dept. of Public Instruction web-site,, or from the web-sites of the Orange County and CHCCS school districts. “We make responsible informed commentary based on hard facts,” said steering committee member David Weinberg.  County staff has compiled and collected numerous reports all downloadable as PDFs from the county web site.  We are dismayed when an incumbent County Commissioner, who ordered these reports at tremendous tax payer expense including County staff, OCS staff, and CHCCS staff time, appears to have no idea what these reports say.

County Manager John Link’s report clearly stated “Combined available building capacity could allow unused space to be filled through student reassignment” (slide #26, Oct 23,2003, titled “Potential impact of possible school merger”). ‘Student reassignment’ is the polite term for busing. The facts laid out by the county staff regarding the costs of merger are certainly incomplete, since they were instructed not to consider the human costs. Matthew Barton, a member of the steering committee, says “Many citizens understand that when kids are put on busses for a significant part of the day, a cost is inflicted in less time for homework, less time for healthy sports, less time to spend with their family. Parents are far less likely to go a long way to a school for volunteer activities, teacher meetings and the like. You simply run out of time in a day, when children are assigned to schools nowhere near their homes”.

The CHCCS and OCS responses to the County commissioners clearly show why busing will be a reality.  See these reports which can be found on the county website with the document titles “Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Response to BOCC follow-up questions” ( ) and Orange County Schools Response to BOCC follow-up questions ( ). These are all part of the official public record established by the county regarding school district merger.

From now until 2014 EACH year there are projected to exist 538-650 empty seats in OCS High Schools, and 584-958 empty seats in OCS Elementary Schools. Once OCS middle school #3 opens (projected 2006) there will be over 450 empty seats there annually too.  In contrast look at the CHCCS.  The trend is more and more overcrowding ending at 612 seats OVER capacity in the high school, 659 seats OVER capacity in the middle school, and 407 seats OVER capacity in the elementary school.  One steering committee says “This staggering total is 1,678 students over capacity in 2013 in the town schools and 1,573 seats under capacity in the OCS schools in 2013.  This number is more than 10% of the total future town district.” 

However, the situation is actually worse than that.  Why?  For starters, these numbers assume CHCCS High School #3 and Elementary #10 both open in the Fall of 2006, neither of which will happen. Additionally, these figures do not address the cascading effect of redistricting. The same reports say that generally twice as many students are moved, as seats needed to be filled.  Sadly, we believe the current incumbents will continue dragging their feet on new construction, whether for schools or senior centers. Barton, a citizen member of the CHATPEC committee that worked on the Eubanks Rd. park/school campus, noted that the draft site plan is a year old, and still has not been submitted to the county or Carrboro for public review and comment. “This kind of foot-dragging by the incumbents shows how important it is for the voice of the community to be heard on July 20th.” he stated. 

In a letter to the Chapel Hill Herald on July 7th,  Comm. Brown says “some parents are upset concerning erroneous speculation about massive busing as a result of choices regarding the school systems. The fact is, there is no scenario where there would be such busing.”  Comm. Carey’s website states that merger is the only way that “savings on the cost of construction of new schools will be realized.”  The only way to get students from the city school district into seats in the county schools is to bus students.  To state that these seats will be used without busing is not supported by the facts.  Reacting to the word ‘erroneous’, Barton stated “Obfuscation of serious issues is the approach of the old guard. It is clearly time for a change on the Board of County Commissioners. We are thrilled to see citizen activists Val Foushee and Pam Hemminger running such vibrant and forthright campaigns.” 

On the topic of resolving differences in funding, Carey proposed in writing in December 2003 that a vote take place in February 2004.  His website states “Carey supports the merger of the school systems in Orange County only as a means for equalizing funding”.  Incumbent Brown stated in a letter published in the Chapel Hill Herald on July 7th, “Everyone agrees that there is inequity in funding.”  However, the actions of both of these incumbents defy their statements.  On June 21st, the incumbents chose not to even second a motion by Alice Gordon which started to address this funding disparity by slightly raising the property tax and slightly lowering the city district tax. This is one of three alternatives outlined by County Manager John Link by which the commissioners can immediately start addressing the funding differences in the county.  The tax impact of the motion was a fiscally responsible, first step toward improving OCS funding, which some citizens would like to do. Compare this with  the immediate 25% tax increase that would be required in the OCS district under the merger scenario proposed by the incumbents up for re-election.

Merger is Merger.  Funding is Funding.  Build schools where the kids are.


The opinions expressed on this site are the opinions and copyright of the individuals who submitted the information.  

Material which is not clearly attributed may be attributed to "a supporter of".  Copyright 2004,