Letter to the News and Observer, published 11/28/2003 (Provided to us by the author)

Dear Editor,

Ruth Sheehan should have done more research than a single 2 minute conversation with a legislative historian as a basis for her column entitled "Merger can be a model" on 10/23. Many of the historic mergers were necessary for racial equity, but Mrs. Sheehan admits that this is not relevant here.

Mrs. Sheehan fails to ponder whether the merger will result in a better education for the children in both districts. Nor does she consider that smaller classes and schools yield the best results or that smaller school districts can be more responsive to their constituency. Nor does she consider that Orange is not as dense as many other NC counties. Both districts are quite successful by many measures.

There is a funding inequity which can be resolved today by raising the property taxes to an appropriate level and unlevying much of the city district tax, which should have been done decades ago by the very commissioners who are now pondering merger.

Why risk destroying two great school systems just to have one? Mrs. Sheehan has done a disservice to her readers by only considering one of many dozens of factors. The net of her argument is "if everyone else merges, then why shouldn't Orange?". I tried using that argument with my mom growing up and always got some response about my friends jumping off of a bridge. Maybe that's why it "dropped off the legislative radar".

Mark Peters
Chapel Hill


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