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Fact or Fiction?

Statement Fact or Fiction? Relevant Links
"Taxes will be lower after merger" Fiction.  Taxes will immediately increase 25% for OCS residents in the first year of merger.  Taxes will stay up at least 20% in year 5 of merger. Appendix S, adjusted for inflation.
Residents of White Cross had no choice but to be bussed across the city district to OCS schools. Fiction.   In the late 1950's after Orange County built the school in Carrboro and opened, Carrboro and White Cross voted to choose their school district.  This was a vote by the people, where Carrboro voted to be in the city district and White Cross voted not to be.

NC statute 115C-73 defines the process by which the people in that sliver can be added to the city district. (requires citizen majority vote & approval of city school board & approval of state school board)
NC Statutes
Candidates choose to be endorsed by NoMerger.org Fiction.  NoMerger.org does not seek approval from candidates for endorsements or advertisements, as allowed by NC PAC Law.

While we have occasionally given candidates a heads up regarding upcoming endorsements or advertisements, no approval was sought from any candidate.

NC Board of Elections
"A proposed supplemental tax of $0.35 per $100 valuation would be more expensive than merger" Fiction.  State law requires that the maximum amount ever to possibly be levied has to be stated in the referendum.  Today, only $0.20 of the $0.35 maximum city district tax is levied and the levy amount changes every year. Ad valorem tax estimates by the county "possible merger" reports do not take inflation into account nor do they increase funding based on any historical assumptions.  Over time, the supplemental tax would be the same as any post-merger tax would be.  
"Merger is the only way to increase funding for the county schools." Fiction.  Once it can be established that the majority in the OCS district favor school funding increases, the county commissioners can immediately raise the ad valorem tax and unlevy some or all of the district tax to more equitably fund the schools.  Alternately, they can levy a countywide schools tax.  Another alternative which has never been brought before the voters is an OCS district tax, which would bring in very similar per pupil funding as the city school district tax.

Merger is not an appropriate mechanism for forcing the will of a vocal minority of the population.

"Merger will result in the 'mother of all redistricting' which will affect thousands of students who will be bused farther." FACT.  Smaller school districts mean that the schools to which your child may be bused are closer. 

Some have compared the redistricting of a merged system to that of a typical city school redistricting, but with the city district being about 25 square miles and the entire county being almost 400 square miles, the implications of busing are very significant.

The overbuilding of the county schools and corresponding excess capacity, along with overcrowding in city schools, sets the stage for well over a thousand students moved from current city schools to current county schools.  

History tells us that for every student moved in this manner, an additional one to two students are redistricted to balance things out.

Socioeconomic balancing in a recent city elementary school redistricting meant busing children past one to three other elementary schools.  This would be compounded in a merged system.

Orange County Demographics
"Merger will save $60M" Fiction.  While a middle school might be delayed based on county comments, any delay in school construction would potentially only result in a savings on the interest that would have otherwise been paid during the delay.  

Any savings on interest would be offset land appreciation (land parcels are increasing in value and are harder to find), increased construction expenses, and by new bus purchases and by more miles traveled to shift students to more distant schools.

"Children in smaller school districts are perform better and are less likely to be delinquent." FACT.  "Research indicates that larger classrooms and larger schools, including larger school districts, increase the risk for poor academic achievement, which is a risk factor for delinquency." North Carolina Community Risk Assessment
For Juvenile Delinquency
"County residents are going to pay an unfair share of the new CHCCS Schools." Fiction.  Capital expenses are amortized over time and the schools are built and financed proportionally to the district population.  In fact, the 5 year average capital spending on OCS schools is $1,615.27, which is higher than the CHCCS spending of $1,530.25.  If the current test case for impact fees survives legal challenges, then Orange could use impact fees to more immediately recover school building costs.  NC DPI Financial Data 2001-2 (most recent available)

NC DPI Local School Finance Study

"The OCS district is harmed because it hosts the Cane Creek Reservoir and has farmers taxed at a lower rate." Fiction.  An OCS district tax would generate very similar per-pupil funding as the current CHCCS district tax.  Ten years ago, an OCS tax would not have generated similar funding.  Furthermore, citizens can advocate higher ad valorem taxes or a countywide supplement and a reduction in the district tax.

Appendix S in the Merger Report shows that
tax base per student in 10th year favors OCS in the school year 2013-14:
$1,088,573      CHCCS
$1,170,154      OCS

This shows the fallacy of the idea that there is some continuing inequitable distribution of tax base.


The NC DPI site

Orange County Possible Merger Page

"City parents oppose merger because the city district would no longer be the number one SAT district in the state" Fiction.  A combined district would have the highest SAT scores in the state. "A tale of 2 systems: Would merger undermine quality?", Durham Herald Sun, 11/29/2003
"The commissioners have a personal stake in the quality of the schools" Fiction.  During the first two years of consideration, none of the current commissioners had children in either school system. 

Thanks in part to NoMerger.org, Valerie Foushee is now a commissioner with a child in the schools.

"The NC constitution prohibits current funding practices" Fiction.  The NC Constitution permits local determination of appropriate funding by choice: "Local responsibility. The General Assembly may assign to units of local government such responsibility for the financial support of the free public schools as it may deem appropriate. The governing boards of units of local government with financial responsibility for public education may use local revenues to add to or supplement any public school or post-secondary school program." Link to Constitution
"Orange County School Board has not gotten what they asked for" Fiction.  State statutes outline a process for school boards to resolve funding disputes and county staff has indicated that this dispute resolution has not been requested by the OCS board. Link to Statute 

115C-431. Procedure for resolution of dispute between board of education and board of county commissioners.

"Many colleges refuse to recruit in OCS." Fiction.  It was stated in a hearing that WestPoint won't come to the OCS schools.  A single email to WestPoint asking about this resulted in an offer to come to OCS and recruit. 

Most colleges routinely invite suitable candidates and applicants when they sponsor their own local recruiting meetings, independent of recruiting fairs.

Also, many parents have stated that the college fairs are really just an opportunity to hand out flyers and that very little recruiting takes place at the fair, given the high student to recruiter ratio.

It is true that more schools come to CHCCS, but it is not known if this discrepancy is due to the lack of invitations.

The recruiting fair is one area that could be addressed in collaboration efforts.

"Money is allocated first to the city district and leftovers are given to the county district."

"Disparity is perpetuated year after year because OCS requests would overfund CHCCS"

Fiction.  "Each year the county allocates the same amount per pupil to both school districts and then the CHCCS district receives additional money from the supplemental district tax.", writes Commissioner Gordon.

The per pupil funding is determined by the commissioners and they then determine the appropriate mix of ad valorem and city district taxes to generate the appropriate funding.  This calculation is very straightforward.

Commissioner Gordon's 12/9/2003 Proposal
"OCS was hit harder in 2003-2004 because less of its budget request was granted" Fiction.  Both systems were similarly funded less than their needs.  CHCCS pared its request to the BOCC down beforehand knowing that budget cuts were imminent.  OCS was initally thought to have been underfunded in 2003-2004, but the missing budget amount was found (but never publicized).  
"Better funding will result in more high quality OCS teachers." Fiction.  OCS has 93.4 percent and CHCCS has 93.3 percent rated as high quality teachers under federal guidelines. N&O sidebar, 12/5/2003.

NC Report Cards

"OCS does not have sufficient funding to have Spanish in elementary school." Fiction.  It is our understanding that OCS made a conscious decision to use Spanish class funding to lower class size.  It is this type of self-determination of each school system to apply funding where most needed by their respective systems that NoMerger.org supports.  Smaller school districts are able to be more responsive to the needs of their constituencies.  
"Busing can be delayed up front for 3 or 5 or 10 years" Fiction.  There is no binding way to make this happen.  Subsequent commissioners, or even the same commissioners, can change their mind at a later date.  For example, Commissioners can force this upon the schools by funding line items for busing and not funding line items for trailers at a school. 

One of the primary premises of Moses Carey is that merger can provide capital savings, and on the other hand, he says that busing can be delayed for a long period of time.  There is no way to have both at the same time.  You either bus children long distances or you build schools the right size in the right places. 

Since schools have been built too large and in the wrong places, merger insures long distance busing.

Merger removes all motivation to place schools near the kids.  Merger guarantees schools will be built where the land is cheapest, thus guaranteeing long distance busing for the long term.  This violates smart growth, a frequent buzzword of the commissioners even though no formal smart growth set of principles have been adopted by the BOCC.

"Equal Funding = Equal Performance" Fiction.  Even within the city district, schools perform differently.  There are a variety of factors at work.  While many think that the districts should be funded similarly, this will not guarantee that all students will perform equally well.

For example, Carrboro Elementary has 82 and 88 percent of students performing at or above grade level in reading and math and Glenwood has 94 and >95 percent, respectively.  Both in the same district and are equally funded.

Carrboro Report Card

Glenwood Report Card




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