Name as it Appears on the Ballot: David M. Hamm
Date of Birth: 02.10.56
Campaign Web Site: hammforccsboe.embarqspace.com
Occupation & Employer: Retired educator from Chatham County Schools
Years lived in Chatham County: 38
1. Why are you seeking the office of Chatham County School Board member?
Having worked 28 years in the Chatham County Schools as a teacher, coach, Assistant Principal, and Principal, I have a unique viewpoint of having dealt with school issues from the inside and having been a parent. Pittsboro is my hometown. I am a graduate of Northwood High School as are my wife and my four daughters. My wife and two of my four daughters teach in the Chatham County Schools. I have lived and worked in all areas of the county during my tenure with the school system. I bring a blend of Experience, Roots, and Commitment to the table that is unique to any of the other candidates.
2. If elected, what is your one top priority for the Chatham County school system? What specific steps would you take to accomplish this goal?
In order to maintain a quality school system, we must keep and attract the best teachers and support personnel. The School Board and County Commissioners must invest in the future by continuing to increase not only the teacher supplements, but also staff supplements. As we all know, Chatham County Schools must compete daily with our neighboring school systems that provide substantially higher supplements that provide their teachers and staff members with additional money for their day-to-day living expenses. The current flat rate supplement system must be converted to a competitive percentage based supplement system. This would have to be supported by and through the County Commissioners.
3. What are the three most important things the school board can do to improve and maintain the quality of public education while coping with the influx of thousands of new students as a result of the building boom happening now in Chatham?
First, the Board of Education must keep abreast of the changing numbers in the birth rate, number of building permits issued, the number of homes sold, the number of planned communities in order to properly project the what impact the changing community demographics will have on the school system in the coming years. Dealing with “potential growth” is an awesome undertaking, but in order to “stay ahead of the curve” the Board of Education must work closely with the County Commissioners to plan for future growth. Currently, projected growth in the Pittsboro has the potential to “explode” in the coming years with a number of large planned communities that will affect Pittsboro Elementary and Horton Middle Schools. Planning for construction and expansion at these schools is imperative.
Second, the ever-changing number of students in schools must be watched more closely in order to plan effectively. Underused space in schools must be utilized in order to alleviate overcrowding in other schools. This is, of course, a short-term solution, but one the parents and Board of Education must be wiling to embrace if the need arises. The construction of the new middle and high schools must be kept on schedule in order to accommodate the rapid growth in northern Chatham County. We do not need to let individuals or small groups of parents stop the construction progress as in the past. If the Board of Education had stayed on its plan of action building the new high school in northern Chatham, the facility would have been completed in the same location in 2005.
Third, if redistricting is not feasible, then as a last resort, mobile classrooms will have to be purchased and or relocated from other schools to meet a short term need at a particular school. This is without question a last resort and should be avoided if proper planning is used by the Administration and Board of Education.
4. What is there in your public record or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be an effective school board member? Be specific. What public or private boards/commissions have you served on and what have you accomplished?
Having worked in the Chatham County Schools for 28 years, lived on both ends of the county, and have worked in all three areas of the school system (Northwood, Chatham Central, and Jordan-Matthews school districts) this has given me the opportunity to learn the various aspects of each community. As a previous building level administrator, I have had numerous opportunities in working with staff, working with parents, organizing instructional programs, and dealing with budgets. I have had the opportunity to work with 3 superintendents and numerous School Board members over my tenure. Throughout my adult life I have served on 3 different Board of Deacons at my churches and have held various offices on those boards.
5. In paying for new schools and other county needs, what role would you like to see assigned to:
First and foremost, by law, it is not the School Board’s responsibility to generate funds for running the schools. The State Legislature and the County Commissioners are the only governing bodies allowed to raise revenue for the operation of the schools. The Board of Education must create a budget that the County Commissioners must approve and then they must adhere to the money allocated to them by the Commissioners and State.
a. Property taxes?
In Chatham County, the main source of revenue for the schools is through property taxes that the County Commissioners set. Though we all want our taxes to be as low as possible, the use of the property tax to fund schools locally is our main/primary option.
b. Impact fees?
In order to supplement new school construction, the use of impact fees is an additional means for raising revenue for the school system. The basis for setting a dollar amount to tax on a new home construction should not be a flat rate as it is currently being used; instead, it should be based on a percentage of the value of the home being built.
c. Year-round schools?
In order to maintain a multi-track school for the year-round school calendar, the school’s enrollment would have to be a minimum of 25% over it’s rated capacity. At this point in time, Chatham County does not have any schools that would fall in this category (long term). Other considerations the school system would have to consider in funding a year-round school is 1) staffing (You would have to hire additional staff like art, PE, counselors, etc. to have all positions covered for the 12 month period—-or make these positions 12 month.); 2) transportation (The State only allocates money for school buses based on a 180 year school calendar.); and the maintenance of the building (The building is in constant use.).
d. More charter schools?
Charter schools were established by the State Legislature some 13 years ago as an experiment to try different ways in running schools. This publicly funded private school venture was originally set up to allow communities to establish “alternative” schools that represented the community’s demographic population. Unfortunately, over the years, fewer and fewer restrictions on the charter schools have been established by the legislature. Charter schools have much more latitude on how their funds are to be spent unlike the line item process utilized by regular state-funded schools. In short, the rules and regulations for charter schools are quite different from regularly funded public schools. The fact is the legislature has not seen enough overall academic achievement by the charter schools to justify allowing additional ones to be added.
e. Sales tax?
Chatham County used to have a special half-cent sales tax that went directly to the schools. The County Commissioners can set this tax and it would be very beneficial to the school system. It is also a tax that is fair to everyone on a “tax as spend” basis.
f. Other revenue-raising or cost-cutting methods?
The state lottery has proven to be very beneficial to Chatham County Schools. Those funds allocated by the State to pay for numerous capital outlay projects around the county. (The money used from the lottery must be on capital outlay projects.) In turn, money that was originally funded for capital outlay projects through county funds could possibly be redirected to other instructional needs in the schools such as English/language arts teachers.
6. Do you have children? If yes, do/did they attend Chatham County schools? If so, please sum up your experience as a public school parent and what you would do as a school board member to improve parents’ and students’ experience. If your children did not attend Chatham public schools, please state where they do/did attend school and explain why what you would do to make the school system more attractive to parents who reject it as an option for their children.
My wife of 28 years and I have four daughters that have all graduated from Northwood High School like their mom and dad. All four of our daughters attended Chatham County Schools during their 13 years of public school.
My oldest daughter, Melissa, attended East Carolina University where she received her undergraduate and graduate degrees. She is currently teaching in her third year and is the AIG teacher at Pittsboro Elementary. My second daughter, Catherine, attended East Carolina University where she received her undergraduate degree. She is currently teaching in her second year as a second grade teacher at Virginia Cross Elementary along with her mother as a reading teacher in her 22nd year.
My third daughter, Elizabeth, is has attended Pitt Community College and is currently seeking employment. My fourth daughter, Allison, is currently a student at CCCC and is completing her Associate Degree and will be attending UNC or NC State to complete her elementary education degree.
7. In general, what is your opinion of the job Superintendent Logan is doing?
Mr. Logan has come into a situation with the Chatham County Schools that needed a tremendous amount of restructuring and refocusing from the previous administration. I have known Mr. Logan since he was the Assistant Superintendent in Lee County Schools. Since his employment as Superintendent, I have spoken with Mr. Logan on several occasions and he has truly impressed me with his experience, knowledge, and understanding of what it takes to lead a school system. His demeanor is second to none as he takes time to genuinely listen to you when you are talking with him. His vision to move the school system forward is a welcome sight as he embraces the successes of the past with the present. His commitment to family, faith, and community will support his tenure as Superintendent of Chatham County Schools. His desire is to have a School Board that works together as a team to serve the students, employees, parents, and community members of Chatham County.
8. The Independent’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?
Having served the students, parents, employees, and community of Chatham County for 28 years serves as a springboard to understanding the past, present and future of the direction for the schools of Chatham. Having Experience, Roots, and a Commitment to Chatham County is the basis of my wanting to continue to serve the community for which I have been a part of for decades. I am a product of the school system. I have worked and served as employee of the school system. My family is committed to continuing that service to the community, as I want to continue that service to Chatham County as a member of the School Board.