Advocacy

advocacy news

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. Email advocacy@connpta.org

May 12, 2024

Join Next Online Conn Advocacy Meeting Thursday, May 16, 2 P.M.

The Conn Advocacy committee will meet online Thursday, May 16 at 2 p.m. Topics will include planning for summer work and next year’s committee, as well as plans to close out this school year.

Attend Wake County Commission Education Budget Hearing And Rally May 21

Educators and supporters will rally and speak out at the County Commission's public hearing on the budget. Though the Wake County school board unanimously approved a budget requesting a $63.2 million increase in local funding, the Commission's initial proposed budget is $14.2 million short of the Board of Education's proposal. That means that essential components of what our schools need, including desperately needed raises for staff, maintaining onsite full-time substitutes in each building, and critically important behavioral support positions could all be on the chopping block. Our public schools need our help: come join WCPSS staff and parents to rally and speak out at the County Commission meeting to demand the resources our schools urgently need.

Legislative Updates And Resources For 2024 NCGA Short Session

The 2024 budget session is a short session that began in April and is scheduled to end by July 1. Public Schools First NC publishes a helpful Week in Review Summary of education-related bills filed in the NC General Assembly. Their Legislative Updates page also includes the legislative agendas of other advocacy organizations The NCPTA Advocacy Day to meet face to face with elected officials is May 15 (previous registration was required). 

Complete the WCPSS Family Survey

The school district encourages you to complete their family survey for each school where you have a student enrolled. Parents or guardians with more than one student enrolled at a school should only complete the survey for that school once. Please complete the survey by May 17. 

April 28, 2024

WCPSS School Board Sets 2024 Legislative Agenda for Short Session

WCPSS 2024-25 Superintendent's Proposed Budget – Next Steps


April 7, 2024

“NC General Assembly should pay”: Takeaways from Public Hearing on Superintendent’s Proposed Budget

Recommendations from the House Select Committee on Education Reform Report to the 2024 Session: Change School Performance Grading System

Rep. Rice Promotes District 4 Board Advisory Council Meeting April 22, 6pm

Toshiba Rice’s First District 4 Board Advisory Council Meeting will be held on Monday, April 22 at 6p at Knightdale Elementary School. The agenda includes Student Achievement Through Equity speaker Dr. Will Chavis, Superintendent for Equity Affairs and a farewell to our former board representative, Tara Waters. Please RSVP if you plan to attend by April 18.

From Bills to Advocacy: Advocacy Skills Training April 17, 6pm

North Carolina Association of Educators will offer From Bills to Advocacy, an advocacy skills training on Wednesday April 17, 6 - 7:15 p.m. Learn what's happening in the North Carolina General Assembly, and the policies impacting public education across the state, and develop the advocacy skills needed to restore the promise of public schools and democracy in NC.

March 24, 2024

Rep. Rice Promotes District 4 Board Advisory Council Meeting April 22, 6 p.m.

Toshiba Rice’s First District 4 Board Advisory Council Meeting will be held on Monday, April 22 at 6p at Knightdale Elementary School. The agenda includes Student Achievement Through Equity speaker Dr. Will Chavis, Superintendent for Equity Affairs and a farewell to our former board representative, Tara Waters. Please RSVP if you plan to attend by April 18.

At the March 19, 2024 school board meeting, Ms. Rice emphasized that community engagement is a priority for her as our District 4 Representative and strongly encourages families to commit to playing an active role at BAC meetings. A website with a signup link is forthcoming.

Ms. Rice thanks Conn Magnet Elementary for inviting her and her son to STEM night. In her words, “the students were so dapper” and her son was thrilled to see our very cool book dispenser!

WCPSS School Board Passes Safer Gun Storage Resolution

WCPSS School Board unanimously passes a resolution for Safer Gun Storage, which focuses on education, awareness, and tools to prevent gun violence. 

From Bills to Advocacy: Advocacy Skills Training April 17, 6 p.m.

North Carolina Association of Educators will offer From Bills to Advocacy, an advocacy skills training on Wednesday April 17, 6 - 7:15 p.m. Learn what's happening in the North Carolina General Assembly, and the policies impacting public education across the state, and develop the advocacy skills needed to restore the promise of public schools and democracy in NC.

March 10, 2024

Toshiba RIce Announces Next District 4 Board Advisory Council Meeting

Conn’s new District 4 school board representative Toshiba Rice made comments at the March 5 board meeting. She announced her first District 4 Board Advisory Council (BAC) meeting will be on Monday, April 22 at 6:30p at Knightdale Elementary School. Input by attendees at BAC meetings is “heard and incorporated into our conversations,” says Representative Rice. “I believe this is a great way to engage families.” She also thanked everyone for the warm welcome and she received from District 4 schools and mentioned Conn.

Resilience and Adverse Childhood Experiences Documentary Screening and Discussion

This award-winning, 60-minute film, Resilience: The Biology of Stress & The Science of Hope, examines how abuse, neglect, and other adverse childhood experiences affect children’s development & health outcomes in adulthood. Join Public Schools First NC for an online screening of this powerful movie. All screenings are on Thursday and include time for discussion. Register here.

Town Hall on Social Media

The NC Department of Justice is interested in hearing from you about the impact of social media on youth in North Carolina. Please join the NC Department of Justice Attorney General Josh Stein and Wake County Public Schools on Monday, March 11, for Protecting the Next Generation of North Carolinians: Town Hall on Social Media. Stein will kick off the town hall with an overview of the ongoing work as part of a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general to investigate whether social media platforms violated consumer protection laws.

This follows Wake’s Board of Education vote in February to join the lawsuit against social media companies for mental health harms.  

February 25, 2024

Advocacy Committee Releases Public Comment Guide, Seeks Volunteers

The Advocacy Committee has written and released a WCPSS School Board Public Comment Guide. WCPSS gives some incomplete and confusing information about how to participate in Board Meetings. This guide fills in gaps, provides context, and points out hard to find information. It is not a substitute for becoming familiar with their official procedures. 

We encourage you to speak at School Board meetings on an issue that is important to you! The Advocacy Committee is looking for volunteers to commit to attending or speaking at Board meetings. We want to have one Conn caregiver or teacher at every WCPSS Board meeting. The next Board meeting is March 5. Email advocacy@connpta.org for more information on how to help.

A crowd of people stand in front of the North Carolina General Assembly building, listening to a speaker with a microphone.

Advocacy Members March at Leandro Day of Action

Advocacy Committee members Michelle Morris and Mike Nutt joined a large coalition of public school advocates at a Day of Action for Education Rights in downtown Raleigh February 22. Oral arguments began that day for the landmark school funding case, which is back at the North Carolina Supreme Court again. Previously, the NC Supreme Court found that North Carolina has not met its constitutional requirement to provide a sound, basic education to all children. However the latest ruling is being reconsidered after a partisan flip last election. Watch the oral arguments here. Legal experts on this Public Schools First NC webinar address whether the NC Supreme Court is poised to undo previous Leandro rulings.

New Conn School Board Representative Sworn In

Toshiba Rice was sworn in as Conn’s District 4 Wake County Board of Education representative February 20. Read her application letter (.pdf). The Advocacy Committee is inquiring about Representative Rice's process for serving on the District 4 Board Advisory Committee.

Other News

February 11, 2024

Day of Action: Critical School Funding Case Back in Court Feb. 22

Please contact advocacy@connpta.org if you would like to join other Conn parents to participate in the Every Child NC Day of Action for Education Rights Feb. 22 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

On the February 22, the NC Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on whether previous rulings in Leandro vs State of NC (Leandro) still apply after a recent partisan switch at the Supreme Court of North Carolina. The NC Supreme court has twice reaffirmed North Carolina’s constitutional duty to ensure all children access to a basic, sound education, and in 2018, the court ordered “a Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan (.pdf) to be fully implemented by the end of 2028 with the objective of fully satisfying the Defendants’ Leandro obligations by the end of 2030.” At stake is a 2022 $5.6 billion budget to address North Carolina’s historically underfunded public schools; the Remedial Plan’s budget would provide increased employee pay, increased funding and programming for students with individualized education plans; and more across all public schools in North Carolina. 

To learn more about the history and significance of this case, visit the Public School Forum of North Carolina’s Leandro resources page

Public school advocates including the North Carolina PTA, Wake Council of PTAs, Public Schools First NC encourage all of us to contact our state officials to demand the implementation of the Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan.

District 4 Board Member to Be Interviewed and Selected Feb. 13

Seven people applied for the vacant District 4 school board seat left by Tara Waters, who was appointed to the Wake County Board of Commissioners in January. The board will interview candidates Feb. 13, then vote to select a candidate. The candidates’ applications are attached to the meeting’s agenda on Simbli. The interviews will be publicly viewable on the WCPSS YouTube channel. The new board member will be sworn in on Feb. 20. They will serve the remainder of Waters’ term until December. A representative to fill the seat will be elected in November.

WCPSS’ Lead with Love – Love the Bus Week

This week (Feb 12-16) is Love the Bus Week! Be sure to show your local bus driver some extra love, and recognize them by tagging #wcpsslovesthebus and #connelementarypta. 

Black History Month: Black Trailbazers in NC and WCPSS

At this month’s school board meeting, WCPSS School Board Chairman, Mr. Heagrty, recognized several African American trailblazers in our NC and Wake County school system history: Dr. Bob Bridges, Senator Vernon Malone, Ms. Cliffornia Grady Wimberley, among many more. Last year, WCPSS School Board made history again with three black members serving on the Board in the same term.

Webinar Series From PTA Center for Family Engagement

Feb. 14, 2-3:15 p.m. De-Politicizing Family Engagement and Social and Emotional Learning. Join PTA’s Center for Family Engagement and the Institute for Educational Leadership for a continuation of our webinar series that will dive into deeper topics related to strengthening family-school partnerships through the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships. Register here. 

February 4, 2024

Sign up to attend a School Board meeting

We encourage you to speak at School Board meetings on an issue that is important to you! The Conn PTA Advocacy Committee is looking for volunteers to commit to attending or speaking at Board meetings. We want to have one Conn caregiver or teacher at every WCPSS Board meeting. 

To coordinate volunteers, we are using this Wake County PTA Council Sign Up Genius form. Adding your name to this schedule DOES NOT SIGN YOU UP TO SPEAK AT THE BOARD MEETING. The Sign Up Genius is only to coordinate the schedule of volunteers. WCPSS opens the speaker sign-up link on the day of the meeting and must be submitted separately. Sign up to speak at https://www.wcpss.net/Page/3727

WCPSS gives some incomplete and confusing information about how to participate in Board Meetings. This guide by the Advocacy Committee seeks to fill in gaps, provide context, and point out hard to find information. It is not a substitute for becoming familiar with the official procedures. 

If you would like help crafting a 3 minute (maximum) speaking piece or want help with editing, please reach out to advocacy@connpta.org at least 48 hours in advance.

If you prefer not to speak, your moral support through attendance would be greatly appreciated!

Registration deadline approaches, ID required for upcoming primary

Man placing ballot in box with USA flag behind him

Feb. 9, 2024 is the deadline to register to vote or change your registration for the North Carolina primary election on March 5, 2024. Voters can register and vote on the same day during early voting (February 15th - March 2nd) but not on Election Day, Tuesday March 5th.

Voter ID is now required for all North Carolina elections! Here’s a fact sheet from the Board of Elections. The State Board of Elections has approved over 100 student and employee identification cards across the state for use in the 2024 primary and general elections in North Carolina. Find out which forms of ID are accepted here.

The Wake County Board of Elections is offering free photo IDs to people who need one before the 2024 primary and general election. The process takes just a few minutes and can be done at the board of elections office, at 1200 N. New Hope Road in Raleigh, during regular business owners. 

In-person early voting begins Feb. 15. Find your election day polling place.

School Funding 101 virtual presentation Feb. 8

SCHOOL FUNDING 101

February 8, 2024 @ 1pm

Google meet link: meet.google.com/cnu-yttm-zbb

Want to know about how school funding works, and how we can make it better? Join the Wake PTA Advocacy Committee on February 8 from 1-2 pm for a presentation that will answer all of your burning questions about school funding! Presented by Susan Book, renowned public school advocate and co-administrator for Save Our Schools NC, and co-host of the Advocacy Bites podcast.

Other news

January 21, 2024

Attend Conn School Improvement Plan Meetings

The PTA Advocacy Committee invites  you to actively participate in the School Improvement Plan (SIP) Meetings that take place each month. Your involvement is crucial in shaping the future direction of our school, and we believe your perspectives and insights are invaluable.

SIP meetings are an opportunity to discuss and contribute to the ongoing improvement initiatives at Conn Magnet Elementary School.

Our School Improvement Plan (SIP), along with its associated meeting dates and times, is readily accessible on the school's website. To access this valuable information, simply visit the Conn Magnet Elementary School SIP page here or click on the “Our School” tab and select “School Improvement” on the dropdown menu. You will see team members, meeting dates and times, and a link to view the SIP with the following credentials. 

Username: GuestS15462

Special word: GuestS15462

To express your interest in attending these meetings, please email Principal Chidester. In your email, kindly mention your desire to participate in the SIP Meetings and include a comment on what you hope to get out of attending the SIP meeting. Your responses will provide Principal Chidester with valuable insights into the expectations and aspirations of our parent community.

No School on Primary Election Day, March 5, 2024

Wake County Board of Education voted to cancel school on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 to facilitate North Carolina’s state primary elections. Approximately 40% of schools serve as polling sites in Wake County, which raises safety concerns for students, staff, and voters alike. The deadline to register to vote in the primary is February 9. Click here for more information about the primary election and to see a sample ballot.

Applicants Needed for Vacant District 4 Position with Wake County School Board

Ms. Tara Waters was recently nominated to serve on the Wake County Board of Commissioners, leaving her seat as District 4 Representative vacant. This position serves most of southeast Raleigh. Instructions for applying can be found on the vacancy announcement. Read a story about the vacancy here

News and Resource Briefs

January 7, 2024

Announcing our first CONNversation Night! Please volunteer!

We are begining to plan a CONNversation Night for spring 2024 and we need your help! This will be an evening of facilitated conversation (and interactive stations for student input) about the most important issues facing our school. The Advocacy Committee planning group for CONNversation Night will determine: 

Roles in the working group might include:

The date and time of the event will be determined by the planning group. If you're interested in joining the planning group for this event, please let us know by emailing advocacy@connpta.org by January 14. 


Dec. 13 meeting regarding Conn PTA’s 2024 Advocacy priorities

Our Advocacy meeting on December 13th was a huge success! Thanks to the 36 respondents who took the time to complete our pre-survey and 22 attendees (including three Conn teachers/staff) who intentionally came together to share what they see as the most important issues facing Conn in 2024. This was a great first step in facilitating open dialogue and conversation among parents, teachers, and community members of Conn Magnet Elementary School and the PTA…but only a first step! 

Conn PTA Advocacy Committee sees a continued need for increased transparency, communication, and family engagement between school administration and parents/families regarding school policies, procedures, and decision-making. What follows are themes, notes, and action items from our December 13 meeting. Statements below should be taken as informal observations, not statements of fact by school personnel. 

Survey on the most important school-related issues

We distributed a survey asking parents and staff to identify and rank issues of concern before the meeting. The results of the survey and details of how the data were analyzed by the Advocacy Committee can be found here. These findings were used to spur discussion at the Dec. 13 meeting.

It is important to remember that this survey was not a representative sample; many voices were not heard at this first meeting or in this survey. The Advocacy Committee is committed to providing more inclusive opportunities for conversation in the future. We need all parents at the table to effectively speak up on behalf of all children at Conn Magnet Elementary. 

In no particular order, the top priority advocacy issues based on survey results were to:

The survey results were used to initiate thoughtful discussion, but the meeting was intentionally designed for open-opened conversation. The following topics organically emerged.

Large 4th and 5th Grade Class Size (3rd Grade Parents) 

There is a large group of ~30 parents with 3rd grade students who are concerned about, and actively advocating to reduce, the large class sizes for 4th and 5th grade students. Parents observe that over 100 students in the 3rd grade are expected to be assigned to three 4th and 5th grade classrooms, resulting in ~34 students per classroom with one lead teacher. By law, K-3rd grade classrooms have class assignment limits of 21 students, but there is no NC law regarding 4th and 5th grade class size. Ms. Chidester does not plan to hire another teacher or create another classroom. This issue is not specific to this student cohort, as the 2nd grade cohort is large as well.

More Detail

Where can the PTA help?

General School Administration’s Hiring Procedures, Processes and Communications

The large class size discussion raised a broader concern regarding increased transparency, accessibility around school processes about hiring and involving teachers in the conversation. The best way to engage teachers (particularly the 4th and 5th grade teachers) and hear their voice is through Mr. Gridley, who does a good job of inviting teachers to different committees and liaisons with the PTA. 

PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports), PURR Expectations, and Social, Emotional, Behavioral Learning

One parent expressed concerns about the school’s use of PBIS/PURR, because it has backfired. It has become a popularity contest for her two kids, and PBIS/PURR may break down along lines of race, SES, different household norms, neurodiverse students, etc.

Where can the PTA help?

Targeted Support & Improvement Additional Targeted Support (TSI-AT)

One parent wanted to see status updates from the school, specifically literacy efforts, regarding Conn’s TSI status. Families received the TSI letter from Ms. Chidester at the beginning of the school year, but there’s been little to no communication about it since. School administration has begun holding School Improvement Plan (SIP) meetings as part of this program, but no parents have been made aware of SIP or the meetings.

Where can the PTA help?

Advocacy – Community/School/All Students vs. Motivated PTA Members

One parent asked, “How do we advocate based on school needs vs. issues chosen by motivated PTA members?” If this conversation feels preliminary, it’s because it is. The Advocacy Committee has talked to Deuan, the PTA DEI Chair, PTA Chairs, etc, but we need to build trust to advocate more on behalf of the school/all students. All voices should be included. The Advocacy Committee’s hope is to continue to prioritize school gatherings that invite families to participate. 

Where can the PTA help?

Sugar, Health and Wellness

Several parents expressed concern about the amount of sugar/candy that is given to students and asked if this was being done for behavior management. PTA Wellness Committee should address this. Rules are not being enforced, as teachers are not supposed to hand out candy as rewards to students. 

Where can the PTA help?

Next Steps

Was this meeting helpful?

Yes! Please do it again. Especially first-time kindergarten parents don't know what "top issues" should be, so it's helpful to hear what other parents are concerned about.

Conn PTA Advocacy Commitee’s Immediate Next Steps

The committee has already begun following up on action steps identified in the meeting.

December 10, 2023

Join Our Advocacy Priorities Meeting Dec. 13

Conn PTA's Advocacy Committee wants your input on the most important issues facing Conn in 2024! In the PTA, advocacy means speaking up for the well-being of children. For example, the state PTA's legislative priorities for 2024 include parent engagement, mental health & wellness, nutrition, and funding. We invite parents and teachers to join us for a virtual discussion on Wednesday, December 13 at 8:00 p.m. to help us decide where we can make a difference. Register for the meeting and take a pre-survey here.   

stick figure illustration of a person with a clipboard and a person speaking with an empty speech bubble.

School psychologists necessary for treating student trauma

After the fatal stabbing of a student at Southeast Raleigh High, the district has promised to review safety protocols. At a Special Community Forum at Southeast Raleigh High School held December 4 in response to the tragedy (watch here), it was clear that change is desired. As we consider what to do in the face of this tragedy, it is important to remember that students in our base zone have been traumatized. Conn and Southeast Raleigh High both enroll students from the Heritage Park neighborhood.

The North Carolina PTA Advocacy Chairs wrote and passed this school safety resolution in 2018. The statement “requests that districts add school psychologists to the staff, who can appropriately provide expert observations and address emerging mental health issues, and serve as crisis counselors, which can help create safer schools and more positive learning environments.” WCPSS provides this handout from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) explains more about their typical services.

The NASP “recommends a ratio of one school psychologist per 500 students in order to provide comprehensive school psychological services.” That would mean WCPSS’ 159,000 student district would have about 318 psychologists. In Wake County, there are 117 psychologists.

The bipartisan Senate Bill 448, the School Psychologist Omnibus, introduced last spring is designed to increase the pay for and number of school psychologists in the state. The bill is now in the Appropriations committee. Contact these committee members to request the bill be advanced to the Senate floor for a vote: District 14 Senator Dan Blue and District 15 Senator Jay Chaudhuri

Tara Waters accepts Wake County Board of Commissioners position

Conn’s school board representative Tara Waters has been selected by the Wake Democrats to fill the Wake County Board of Commissioners District 5 seat. This seat was left vacant by the late James West. The Democrat-led Commissioners will vote in January whether to accept the nomination.

Public school advocacy online training January 17

Do you want honest, accurate, safe, equitable and fully-funded public schools in North Carolina? Join the Public School Strong movement by attending their next training Wednesday, January 17, 2024, 7 – 8:30pm. Public School Strong is a great way to take your advocacy to the next level by joining a state-wide coalition. Recently, they delivered the results of a survey to Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt which showed support for strengthening our public schools.

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!

stick figure illustration of a person with a clipboard and a person speaking with an empty speech bubble.
3 adults stand in a school library talking to each other

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

6:00-7:30 pm

Knightdale Elementary School

109 Ridge Street, Knightdale, 27545

RSVP: https://tinyurl.com/District4Nov2023

Questions: chair@wakedistrict4bac.com

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.

Flyer transcription WAKE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM logo Let's Talk About: Community Engagement District 4 Board Advisory Council Meeting AT KNIGHTDALE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL A 1.5 Hour Discussion Free & Open to the Public WCPSS DISTRICT 4 SCHOOL BOARD REPRESENTATIVE TARA WATERS  Thursday November 30th 6:00-7:30pm Knightdale Elementary School Principal Teresa James 109 Ridge Street, Knightdale, NC 27545  Invited Speaker: MariaRosa Rangel, Ed.D. Director of Family & Community Engagement WCPSS Office of Equity Affairs RSVP: https://tinyurl.com/District4Nov2023

Plug In!

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!

News Briefs

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 advocacy@connpta.org for meeting information.

Voting 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

RSVP: https://tinyurl.com/District40ct2023

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 advocacy@connpta.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 advocacy@connpta.org. 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:

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 advocacy@connpta.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.


Board members unanimously passed two policies in the Action portion of the meeting. These policies will next appear on a future Consent Item agenda:

Our District 4 Representative Ms. Tara Waters announced that her Board Advisory Council (BAC) will meet October 26, location to be determined. The Advocacy Committee will reach out to Representative Waters to clarify how membership on the District 4 BAC is determined and documented.


The public comment period continued to focus on controversial Senate Bill 49, named the Parents' Bill of Rights. Three queer students spoke out against the bill, as did several teachers. Teachers described confusion and anxiety on campuses around the new law, and expressed the need for training before some provisions can be implemented. The community groups Moms For Liberty and the Pavement Education Project organized speakers to support the new law and call for immediate implementation. As of this writing, initial budget documents show lawmakers will accept GOP State Superintendent Catherine Truitt’s request to give schools until Jan. 1 to comply with the new Parents’ Bill of Rights law.