Check back every other week for advocacy updates including WCPSS School Board of Education meeting summaries, NCPTA legislative priorities, voting information, and how to advocate for your student and school community.
HELP DETERMINE Conn PTA's 2024 Advocacy Priorities!
We need YOU at the table! Fill out the form below to make your voice heard and get involved.
November 26, 2023
Join Our Advocacy Priorities Meeting Dec. 13
The Advocacy Committee wants YOU at the table to help determine our PTA priorities for the 2024 calendar year. How should the PTA be spending its money? What issues should we be focusing on to support our student families and school? Please join other parents and teachers at a virtual meeting December 13 at 8pm to discuss together. Sign up with the form above to receive the meeting information.
You can also use the form above to submit anonmymous input if you cannot make the meeting. Either way, we want to hear your voice!
Advocacy Committee members Mike Nutt (left) and Kellee Lewis (center) talk with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee chair DeJuan Hoggard after Conn School Improvement Plan meeting November 21st
Advocacy & DEI Teams join School Improvement Plan Meeting
On Tuesday, November 21st, members from our PTA Advocacy Team and our PTA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Team attended the monthly School Improvement Plan (SIP) Meeting in the Media Center at Conn Magnet Elementary School of Entrepreneurial Design.
Our SIP focuses on continuing to grow and strengthen school and family relationships as well as provide overlap with PTA and school goals. Our SIP is located on our school website (link here) and focuses on tiered instruction (What I Need or WIN time as well as differentiated instruction during core instruction), school routines and procedures that guide students in managing their social, emotional, and behavioral learning, and regularly and effectively communicating with parents/guardians about learning expectations and how families can support their child(ren).
During the November 21st SIP meeting, our three school-based teams—Instruction, Community & Family Engagement, and Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports (PBIS)– discussed data and made commitments for intentional next steps to impact all our students.
The Community and Family Engagement Team specifically discussed, alongside our PTA representatives from Advocacy and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, intentional ways to amplify all voices across our Conn Magnet community.
Are you interested in hearing more as well as sharing your ideas to connect and amplify all voices across our school community? Consider attending our upcoming Advocacy meeting on Wednesday, December 13th at 8pm. You can register here. https://www.connpta.org/advocacy
We can’t wait to hear from you during our December 13th meeting!
District 4 Board Advisory Council Meeting Nov. 30 6pm at Knightdale Elementary
District 4 Board Advisory Council meeting
Thursday, November 30th, 2023
Knightdale Elementary School
109 Ridge Street, Knightdale, 27545
Board Advisory Council (BAC) meetings are made up of citizen members, school administrators and other staff, to provide feedback and consultation to each board member by district. All meetings are open to the public.
The invited speaker for this Thursday is MariaRosa Rangel, Ed.D., Director of Family & Community Engagement for WCPSS.
The "Creating Inclusive Communities for LGBTQ+ Youth" workshop from National PTA’s 2023 LegCon highlights and shares strategies from state and regional PTAs working to establish safe, supportive and inclusive environments for LGBTQ+ identifying youth. Learn more about LGBTQ+ inclusivity in PTA.
Sign up for the National PTA Takes Action Network and respond to action alerts to reach your legislators on important issues and legislation.
Note in the Pocket addresses clothing insecurity for WCPSS and other Triangle children. Their 3rd annual Shoesday 2023 campaign seeks to provide 1,785 pairs of shoes. District 4 Rep. https://givebutter.com/UNxbyl. When donating clothes, District 4 Rep. Tara Waters reminds us there are adult-sized children!
Purchase your official Wake PTA ADVOCATE hoodies! Wake County PTA Council is committed to addressing equity among PTA units. All proceeds from the ADVOCATE campaign will be used to provide grants to struggling units in Wake County.
November 12, 2023
Join Our Advocacy Priorities Meeting
The Advocacy Committee wants YOU at the table to help determine our PTA priorities. How should the PTA be spending its money? What issues should we be focusing on to support our student families and school? Please join our strategic planning process at a virtual meeting December 13 at 8pm to discuss together. Sign up to join the meeting at connpta.org/advocacy.
11/7 School Board Meeting Report
WCPSS bus driver Ricky Albino attended the November 7 meeting of the School Board, along with two other drivers and NCAE members. Albino made several clear requests to address the bus driver crisis: bi-weekly pay, salary additions instead of bonuses taxed at a higher rate, and safer routes.
Albino mentioned that many drivers have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, and the long hours mean they get less sleep and rest and suffer from fatigue behind the wheel. Including bonuses, a new full-time driver in Wake County might earn $38,600. For a family with two working adults and two children, the living wage in Wake County is about $60,008.
After his comments, Albino and his colleagues spoke with Advocacy Committee Chair Mike Nutt about their need for parents to advocate for drivers. For example, the drivers said that school administrators do not follow through on behavior reports the drivers make. Some routes feel so dangerous that the drivers said they want security on the bus. They asked us to put pressure on the Board in school board comments and emails, because their plight hasn’t gotten enough attention.
At the last District 4 Board Advisory Council meeting, Chief of Facilities and Operations Mark Strickland said the district will need to try unique and novel approaches to address the gap in drivers, but drivers have been clear about what is needed to make the job more desirable. Email Strickland and District 4 Representative Tara Waters to advocate for WCPSS to address the needs expressed by our bus drivers.
Provide Feedback on Family Involvement Policy Draft by Nov. 15
The WCPSS Board of Education is creating a mostly new policy to address legislative requirements of S.B. 49, the “Parents Bill of Rights” aka “Don’t Say LGBTQ+” bill. News & Observer education reporter Keung Hui said this excerpt explains “how schools will handle parental notification before changes are made in names or pronouns by their children.”
The North Carolina PTA’s 2023 State Legislative Advocacy Priorities include supporting efforts to improve child “mental health & wellness.” Studies have shown a deadly crisis in the mental health of queer youth as policies around the country create oppression and an atmosphere of fear and hostility. A common complaint about S.B.49 is that it is in violation of Title IX (.pdf).
School leaders, staff, families and community stakeholders should share their feedback on the policy here by November 15, 2023.
Environmental and Sustainability Advocacy Talk
Thursday, November 16 at 1:00pm
Google Meet link: meet.google.com/dzv-xifs-uit
On Thursday November 16, please join the Wake County PTA Council Advocacy Committee as they host local sustainability advocate Marla Kasper at 1pm. We will learn about the ways climate change impacts our health, and ways we as school communities can advocate around sustainability to ease those impacts. We hope to see you there!
Public School Strong training. Wednesday, December 6, 7 – 8:30pm. Do you want honest, accurate, safe, equitable and fully-funded public schools in North Carolina? Join the Public School Strong movement! A project of the HEAL Together NC coalition.
Coffee & Connections with Wake County PTA Council. Nov. 14, 9:30am. Transfer Food Hall, 500 E. Davie St., Raleigh. Looking to connect with other PTA leaders in the county? Have questions or concerns? Let's meet for coffee and talk PTA!
Ask Me Anything with Wake County PTA Council Dec. 12, 7pm. Questions about nominating? Maintaining momentum? Hop online and ask the Wake Council anything! Register here for the virtual meeting.
Happy Healthy Lifestyles Month! Visit PTA.org/HealthyLifestyles to support healthy lifestyles in your home!
NCPTA Quarter 2 Virtual Leadership Academy. Join NCPTA on Saturday, November 18th from 10am to 12pm for their Virtual Leadership Academy! Come hear from guest speakers Representative Ashton Wheeler Clemmons and State Superintendent Catherine Truitt, and learn best practices for your PTA's audit committee. Register here.
November 5, 2023
WCPSS Board Meeting November 7
The WCPSS Board of Education meets next November 7 at 5:30pm. Speaking at a Board Meeting can be confusing and intimidating if you've never done it before, but the Advocacy Committee is here to help. We can let you know what to expect and discuss how to write your talking points. Click here for information about how to sign up to speak at the Board meeting.
Next Advocacy Committee Meeting November 8
The Advocacy Committee will meet Wednesday, November 8 at 8pm. We’ll discuss ideas for a CONNversation night to increase family engagement and strategic planning for the Advocacy committee. All are welcome to join! Email email@example.com for meeting information.
November 7th is Election Day for many towns in Wake County, including: Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Morrisville, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Wendell and Zebulon. Upcoming election information can be found in this Wake County Board of Elections Voter Guide.
There are new voter ID rules for voters in North Carolina - learn more here.
Find your sample ballot here - https://www.ncsbe.gov/voting/sample-ballot
More information can be found in this Voter Guide provided by You Can Vote, a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to increase voter registration and voter turnout.
Board Advisory Council
The District 4 Board Advisory Council (BAC) held a meeting October 26 at Ligon Middle School and featured an introduction by new WCPSS Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor.
Susan Pullium, the WCPSS Senior Director of Student Assignment, emphasized that the stability rules, approved for the 2023-24 school year, are more generous. All eligible students who have an assignment change can submit their request to stay at their current school and will have their request approved. Staff have been responding to parent input at this Frequently Asked Questions page.
Chief of Facilities and Operations Mark Strickland discussed ongoing issues hiring enough bus drivers in the county. He said we currently have 650 drivers and need another 300, and that we have fewer drivers now than on August 1. He said there is “noone in the bullpen” when a driver calls in sick because the 70 permanent full time substitute drivers are all currently assigned a route. A recent Friday had 80 “callouts” by drivers. 17 routes are scheduled to arrive late at their schools. Strickland said they are looking at data to see where problem areas are and will discuss the possibility of later start times. He said they need to “consider things we’ve never considered before” and that “we can’t buy our way out of this” problem.
The next District 4 BAC meeting will be November 30, 6 p.m. in Knightdale. Details to come.
October 22, 2023
District 4 Board Advisory Council Meeting Oct. 26
Thursday, October 26, 6-7:30 PM
Ligon Middle School
706 E. Lenoir Street, Raleigh, 27601
Board Advisory Council (BAC) meetings are made up of citizen members, school administrators and other staff to provide feedback and consultation to each board member by district. This meeting will focus on student assignments and transportation. Conn is in District 4, represented by Tara Waters. You can email Ms. Waters here.
Oct. 17 Board Meeting Hot Topic: 2024-24 Enrollment Proposal
On Oct. 17, staff members presented the second draft of the 2024-25 Student Enrollment Proposal to the Board of Education. Watch the presentation. Several parents at the Board Meeting expressed that no changes to reflect community input were made between the first and second drafts. The district is still collecting feedback through ThoughtExchange.
In her opening remarks, Representative Waters marked the 1 year anniversary of the mass shooting in Hedingham by noting there had been no legislative response. She noted that firearms are now the leading cause of death for children. She encouraged parents to visit https://besmartforkids.org for guidelines on secure gun storage. The National PTA's position statement on firearms was last amended in 2021.
The Board approved the first readings of several policy updates designed to bring WCPSS policy into compliance with the NC Parents' Bill of Rights passed by the legislature this fall. Some parents thanked the Board for a "cautious" approach to implementation. For instance, local education reporter Keung Hui said "Wake isn't applying the law to elementary school library books." Changes to the policies are marked in blue in documents attached to the meeting agenda.
You Can Be an Advocate!
Purchase your official Wake PTA ADVOCATE shirts! Wake County PTA Council is committed to addressing equity among PTA units. All proceeds from the ADVOCATE campaign will be used to provide grants to struggling units in Wake County.
Then wear your new ADVOCATE threads at an upcoming WCPSS Board of Education Meeting! The Conn Advocacy Committee would love to help you be a more effective advocate for your child. Please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions and input!
Week of October 8, 2023
Meeting October 9
The Advocacy Committee will meet virtually Monday October 9 at 10:30 a.m. To join the conversation, please email email@example.com. The committee would especially like to connect with families who are not currently involved in the PTA, so please help spread the word.
Meeting Wake NCAE President Christina Spears
Members of the Advocacy Committee and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committe met with Wake NCAE President Christina Spears recently. NCAE is the state’s largest education advocacy organization for public school employees and represents active, retired, and student members. Spears conveyed that NCAE needs parent advocacy for teachers and school workers. She encouraged Conn parents to speak at school board meetings and contact our district representative Tara Waters about issues.
The committee discussed with Spears that the Conn PTA could help grow stronger connections with families who feel disconnected from the school or issues in education. She emphasized the importance of one-on-one and group conversations to grow a community of engaged parents and teachers at Conn. Finally, Spears emphasized that food and childcare can be good ways to bring people out to meetings.
Student Assignment Plan
At the October 3 WCPSS Board of Education Meeting, parent commentary included several reactions to the school assignment plan first draft for 2024-2025. Parents may also provide feedback and ask questions on ThoughtExchange, which are reviewed for changes to the second draft. The second draft is scheduled to be presented to the school board on Oct. 17. A public hearing will be held on November 8. The school board is scheduled to vote on a final plan on Nov. 21. View the timeline.
Week of October 1, 2023
Upcoming WCPSS Board Meetings
The Wake County Board of Education has its regular meetings Tuesday, October 3, 2023. The open work session from 3-5:30 p.m. will discuss:
Strategic Plan Update
Board Policy 2310: Public Participation at Board Meetings
Work sessions are often the best opportunity to understand the issues behind new policies and hear where Board members stand on them.
The agenda for the full board meeting at 5:30 p.m. includes second readings on policies about surplus property and walking to school. By the time a policy receives its "second reading" in the full board meeting, the policy is likely to be adopted without further debate.
Attend a School Board Meeting!
WCPSS Board of Education Representatives hear public comments every other Tuesday evening during their full board meetings. We need your CONNtributions! If you are interested in attending or speaking at a meeting, the Conn PTA Advocacy Committee is happy to help you prepare. Information on speaking at the board meetings is here, but we can let you know what to expect so you feel more comfortable. We may also be able to arrange a carpool. Email Advocacy Chair, Mike Nutt, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
If you would like to join in a larger statewide network of public school advocates who are committed to attending and speaking at school board meetings, consider attending a #PubicSchoolStrong training. Lead by Heal Together NC, the #PublicSchoolStrong coalition is building public school advocacy in all 100 NC counties. They plan to have a statewide mobilization in Raleigh in November. Details to come.
NCPTA General Assembly Budget Update
The North Carolina General Assembly adopted its two year budget for the 2023-2025 biennium on September 22. Governor Cooper has stated that he will not sign the budget but allow it to go into effect without his signature. The Governor referred to the importance of Medicaid expansion, which would not go into effect without an enacted budget for the current fiscal year, as his primary reason for not vetoing the bill. The North Carolina PTA Advocacy Team has reviewed the budget bill and put together a list of education appropriation items and education policy changes included in the budget bill. View the NCPTA budget update here.
Week of September 24, 2023
The Wake County School Board of Education met Wednesday, September 19 with a slightly reduced roster, but enough for a quorum. Several members noted in their comments appreciation for interim superintendent Dr. Randy Bridges, as this was his last meeting. Dr. Robert P. Taylor will take the position October 1.