by Susan Dickson
Several weeks after school officials announced that about a dozen advanced placement and honors courses would not be offered at Carrboro High School next year, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools officials say they will make changes to offer several of those courses.
Carrboro High students and parents said that Carrboro High would become a â€œsecond-classâ€ school without offering the AP and honors courses and asked district officials to reinstate the courses.
The school district allocates teachers to schools based on enrollment, and because Carrboro High School has fewer students than the other high schools it has fewer teachers as well. Few students signed up for certain AP and honors courses at Carrboro High, so school officials decided not to offer them.
The courses included AP chemistry, AP biology, AP physics, AP human geography, honors biology II, honors physics, AP Latin, AP German, German III, German IV, AP Spanish literature and AP French.
However, school officials have now decided to offer several of the courses that had higher enrollment, including AP chemistry, AP biology and AP Latin, according to Superintendent Neil Pedersen.
Pedersen said officials are also considering offering several other courses, including AP French.
â€œI really do think that the addition of these courses will address most of the parents weâ€™ve heard from,â€ Pedersen said, adding that three or fewer students had signed up for most of the other courses that would not be offered.
Pedersen said not all AP and honors courses are offered at Chapel Hill and East Chapel Hill high schools either.
â€œIt happens at other high schools,â€ he said. However: â€œItâ€™s a little bit more challenging at a smaller school.â€
School officials told students they could take the courses at one of the districtâ€™s other two high schools, but would have to provide their own transportation. In addition, students can take certain courses online, Pedersen said.
Students can also apply to transfer to one of the districtâ€™s other high schools, which some parents said could create a â€œbrain drain.â€
â€œI think it affects every student when the cream of the crop goes to another school,â€ said Mark Barroso, parent of a rising sophomore at Carrboro High. â€œItâ€™s all part of the academic culture at the school.â€
Pedersen said Carrboro High would maintain its high standards and level of academics.
â€œI would very much disagree with any characterization of Carrboro High School as offering a lower level of academics,â€ he said. â€œThe offerings at Carrboro are rigorous and extensive.â€
The controversy comes amid swirling rumors and disputes concerning the recent replacement of Jeff Thomas, former principal of Carrboro High. The district announced June 18 that Thomas has been reassigned to the districtâ€™s central office and that Rodney Trice, the districtâ€™s director of curriculum and instruction, would serve as interim principal. The release announcing the change did not indicate why Thomas was being replaced.
Some parents and teachers have come out in support of Thomasâ€™ performance at the school and want to know why administrators replaced him.
However, district officials say personnel privacy laws prevent them from releasing information regarding Thomasâ€™ reassignment.
Pedersen said he expects that Carrboro High will have a new principal in place by the start of the school year, adding that the School Improvement Team is forming a selection committee for the principal selection process.
â€œOur goal would be to simply get off to a positive start at the beginning of the school year with strong leadership, building some of the relationships that evidently need to be addressed based on feedback from last year and building peopleâ€™s confidence and pride in the school,â€ Pedersen said. â€œI think what everybody would like to see when they return to school would be that the school is prepared for them, well organized, and that thereâ€™s a positive and upbeat message thatâ€™s being conveyed to all of the stakeholders.
â€œI think if we can accomplish that, weâ€™ll be off to a good start.â€
In the meantime, Trice said he is busy preparing the school for the studentsâ€™ return in August.
â€œI think we have a pretty strong administrative team here,â€ he said. â€œThereâ€™s a lot of support thatâ€™s being provided.â€