Step By Step

Last night, the new majority of the Union County Board of Education was sworn in at Marvin Ridge HS. It was great to be at a Board of Education meeting and not get thrown out, so I have that going for me, which is nice.


During his presentation, Superintendent Dr. Houlihan acknowledged that there are issues with Transportation and that they are working to resolve them. He made it very clear that Transportation is not where it should be, but they are making improvements and have come a long way in a short time. He said we’re not where we should be, but we are moving forward. (I’m paraphrasing here).

I’m not going to dig into the Transportation issues at the moment, but I want to thank Dr. Houlihan for having the integrity to actually admit that something is broken. It has been many years since we had a Superintendent admit that everything wasn’t sunshine and daisies all the time. The first step in solving a problem is admitting that a problem exists. I appreciate that Dr. Houlihan was willing to openly discuss this. In August 2014, the first week of school following the previous redistricting plan saw entire neighborhoods of students stranded on street corners waiting for buses that would never arrive. All while UCPS publicly made the claim that no major busing issues occurred. You can read the details here. Houlihan is right, we are not where we should be, but we are better than we were. We are improving, and I think this is a good step forward.

Spire Curriculum

Part of the meeting included new training for teachers, addressing the needs of students with dyslexia. I’m not familiar with the details of the Spire program so I’m not offering an opinion on the program itself, but I’d like to make an observation about the process. There are several Board members with experience with dyslexia and Gary Sides made a motion to delay the approval of the program to allow the new curriculum committee a chance to look it over. Dr. Houlihan advised the Board that while he would respect their decision, delaying the program until the January BOE meeting would put the teachers a month behind the curve in their training, and he recommended against the delay. The Board voted 8-1 in favor of waiting for the curriculum committee to approve the program, despite Houlihan’s objections.

In the old days, when Dr. Mary Ellis told the Board to jump, they jumped. The Board answered to her, even though technically she was supposed to answer to them. It is refreshing to see the Board of Education make a decision for themselves, but it doesn’t end there. After the 8-1 vote, Leslie Boyd offered the suggestion that a special meeting could be called, via teleconference if necessary, to ensure that the full Board could vote on the program after the curriculum committee had a chance to review it, and still accomplish everything under the January deadline Dr. Houlihan wanted. It’s a great idea, and a very simple solution. The appropriate BOE committee would be able to do their job and Dr. Houlihan’s deadline is met. A win-win. Ladies and gentleman, I give you a functioning Board of Education. A Board willing to make their own decisions and willing to find reasonable accommodations when their decision isn’t what UCPS administration was hoping for. That’s a great step forward.

Unrestricted Funds

During a presentation by the firm responsible for UCPS’s annual audit, Dennis Rape noticed some funds marked as “Unrestricted” and he asked the CPA at the podium for additional information. If the funds are truly unrestricted, they might be used for projects that could reduce our tax burden. Unfortunately the CPA was not expecting anyone on the board to ask about any of this, and so, obviously flustered, he had to admit that the partner who oversaw the audit was not available and they would have to get back later with the answer.

I kinda feel bad for the CPA, being put on the spot. Then again, perhaps his firm should have sent someone more closely involved with the audit in case someone actually was paying attention. I applaud Dennis for speaking up. How many millions of dollars did the previous BOE throw around for Ellis without actually looking into the details? As promised, Dennis is already looking for ways to improve UCPS without raising our taxes to do it. I don’t know if the unrestricted funds he asked about will help, but I appreciate that for the first time in several years, we have people asking questions about finances. I appreciate that he was asking questions in open session for everyone to see. Transparency is always a good thing, and that’s a good step forward.


Last night, Gary Sides officially made a motion to begin a plan to address the loss of taxpayer dollars and to bring the concept of neighborhood schools back to Union County. The plan calls for:

  • Working with a demographer to analyze future growth
  • Create a citizen/parent group to work with the Board
  • Whenever possible, assign students to their nearest schools
  • 100% no questions asked grandfathering for anyone who wants to stay where they are

Questions were asked as to whether or not grandfathering would be allowed through graduation and whether or not grandfathering would include transportation. Gary said that he would defer those details to the appropriate groups during the planning process, and that those things should be based on the data that comes in. Kathy Heintel added that there was no pre-determined agenda and no pre-determined deadline. Their goal was to do it once and do it right. The motion passed 9-0.

I’ve already made it clear that I think grandfathering should be allowed through graduation. I won’t support kicking students out against their will. I also believe that transportation should be considered as part of grandfathering, if at all possible. I don’t know what the application process will be for the citizen/parent group, but I will be throwing my name into the hat. However the group will be decided, I would encourage them to not stack the deck. I think the group should have representation from all sides. If someone who supported redistricting wants to be part of it, I think they would do well to consider it. As much as the old BOE shoved their agenda down our throats, we need to do better. This plan is a huge step forward.

All things considered, I’m very hopeful about the future of Union County Public Schools. These may be small steps forward, but they are moving in the right direction. Step by step, we’ll fix what was broken.

-Hopeful Dad

2016 UCPS Election Results

While it may not be making national headlines this morning, I wanted to post an update on the UCPS election results.

For District 2 and District 6, Matt Helms and Kathy Heintel won their districts with 99% of the vote. Both of these Districts were uncontested, so this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

The big surprise was in District 5 where Joe Morreale trounced Amelie Shill Schoel 62% to 38%. I did a quick review of the BOE results for the last decade and there is only 1 race that delivered a loss by a larger margin. Do you know which race that was? It was 2014 when Gary Sides pummeled Richard Yercheck 66% to 33%. It’s absolutely poetic that the 2 biggest losers are Richard Yercheck and his shill, Amelie Schoel. Don’t you just love Karma?

The race in District 1 went to Candice Sturdivant who beat out Rebekah Ratliff 59% to 40%.

The biggest disappointment came in the At-Large race. With two seats up for grabs, Dennis Rape (36%) will join the Board. Christina Helms (33%), who somehow found 49,250 people who think burning $1 million a year is a good thing, will return as she beat Lee Henage (30%) for the 2nd spot.

I am proud to say that Precinct 17B, where most of Wesley Chapel comes to vote (including this Angry Dad), is where Christina Helms performed the worst. Unfortunately she performed very well in the precincts that tend to vote strongly Democratic. It probably has something to do with the fact that Christina Helms and Amelie Schoel altered the election materials being handed out by the Democratic Party of Union County. You’d think it would be illegal to alter this stuff and claim to be endorsed by a party that never actually endorsed you. I wonder if the Union County Democratic Party Executive Committee knew they were paying to endorse Republicans?

The $54 million bond for UCPS also passed with a resounding 71% of voters supporting it. It’s up to the new Board majority to make sure these funds are spent on the schools and projects for which we voted. Looking at the new majority, I believe they will do just that.

Overall, it looks like good news. Most of the people responsible for running our school system into the ground are gone. It took three years and wasting millions of taxpayer dollars to expose these people for who they really are, but in the end, we won.

-“Looking Forward To Retiring From Being Angry” Dad

PS – We all owe a HUGE debt to the volunteers and poll workers who spent hundreds of hours volunteering at early voting sites and the regular precincts yesterday. For many of these people, this was their fulltime job for the last couple of weeks. Actually, I know a few that spent more than 40 hours each week at the sites. I don’t have the words to express how grateful I am to everyone who worked so hard and spent so much time fighting for our kids these last few weeks. Thank you.

Angry Dad’s Voting Guide – 2016 Edition

Two years ago I put together a voting guide offering my thoughts on the Board of Education candidates. That voting guide was the most read set of posts on this site and generated more phone calls than anything I have ever written. Honestly, I was shocked at the response. I don’t know if 2016 will have the same results, but I’ll give it a shot.

In 2016, all Union County residents will be able to vote for 2 candidates to represent the entire county At-Large. There are 3 candidates running, the 2 candidates who receive the most votes will be placed on the Board of Education.

Residents of District 1, District 2, District 5, and District 6 are also able to vote for a candidate to specifically represent them and their district. If you live outside of these districts, you are only able to vote for 2 At-Large candidates this year.

There are some caveats to be read before you continue.

First and foremost, this voting guide is only discussing Board of Education candidates and the UCPS Bond. I will not be discussing any other political candidates. While I love talking about politics, this website is specifically dedicated to UCPS. If you want to know how I feel about something other than BOE candidates, feel free to ask me directly. I’d be happy to chat about it. But not here.

Second, as was true two years ago, if you are one of the few people who have invested the time, energy, and research into UCPS and the Board of Education, you already know who the most qualified candidates are. Feel free to skip this post and head directly to your nearest early voting location. If you haven’t been able to read more than 100,000 pages of documents or attend hundreds of hours of meetings over of the last few years, please allow me to offer this summary of what I have learned.

Please don’t vote without doing some research. Uninformed voters (like myself in 2012 and earlier) gave us Richard Yercheck and Kevin Stewart. Let’s learn from our mistakes.

With that, I give you the Angry Dad’s Voting Guide – 2016 Edition:

District 1

District 2

District 5

District 6



-Angry (But Still Doing My Civic Duty) Dad

*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own. No candidate mentioned here had any prior-knowledge of the contents of this post.

UCPS Bond 2016

Back in June I suggested that we “Wait and See” how things played out before making up our minds about the bond. I said that we need to:

  1. Wait for the 20 day numbers to come out before deciding if future overcrowding issues were resolved by the new charter schools.
  2. Wait for new Facilities Chair Melissa Merrell to provide some details as to how the bond will solve capacity problems.
  3. Wait to see which current BOE members will run for re-election in November.

Here is how things have shaken out.

Enrollment & Charter Schools

UCPS published the 20 Day numbers yesterday, you can find them here. There is a lot we can talk about in those numbers but for now I will focus on how it relates to the bond.

At the moment, we are 1,200 students BELOW the most recent forecasts. Most of the decline is in our elementary schools.Two new charter schools opened up this year (K-3 and K-6). Both of these charter schools will continue to add 1 grade each year until 8th grade, so these students will likely be back in UCPS for high school. Union Prep Academy has said they would like to open a high school in a couple of years if there is demand for it, but that is not a guarantee. I do not think it is wise for us to assume these 1,200 students are out of UCPS forever.

Capacity Solutions

As promised, Melissa Merrell did provide additional details from the Facilities Committee as to how they plan on addressing capacity issues. While the information is a little more limited than I would like to see, it is a vast improvement compared to what we had from the previous Facilities Chair and his quarter of a BILLION dollar threat. I’ll dig into each project further down, but for now, my take away is that this is a big step in the right direction. Keep reading if you want more details.

The New Board of Education

The only person trying to come back to haunt us is Christina Helms. We also have Amelie Shill Schoel in District 5 trying to bring Richard Yercheck and John Collins back by proxy. The good news is that even if voters buy the crap these two are trying to sell, there are still not enough votes for the current BOE majority to continue their reign of terror. It’s over. We won. The fact that there will be a new BOE majority in December will have huge impact on school boundaries.

About Redistricting

There are a lot of people who believe that the redistricting in 2014 created the current overcrowding mess by forcing students into schools that lack the facilities and capacity to handle them. They argue that if we increase the capacity to match the current enrollment numbers, we are locking in a redistricting that should never have happened in the first place. These people are 100% correct. Redistricting created this capacity mess. If we roll back redistricting we will find that most of the capacity problems should go away. We will also be saving nearly $1 million/year by improving our transportation efficiency rating. It’s a win-win.

However, there are students who do not want to go back where they came from. After being kicked around every 3 years, there are students who want to be left alone and be allowed to graduate where they are. I support them. I don’t feel the same way, but I believe their desire to stay is just as valid as my desire to go back. Whatever changes we make to the boundary lines for 2017/18, we have to provide a 100% grandfathering option to those who want it. By offering a grandfathering option, there may still be some capacity problems as not everyone will choose to go back.

The only question is whether or not we will be allowed to go back. What are the odds that the new BOE majority will support Gary Sides’ rollback plan? Ask the candidates and they will tell you where they stand.

  1. Matt Helms (uncontested) – Supports it
  2. Kathy Heintel (uncontested) – Supports it
  3. Dennis Rape – Supports it
  4. Lee Henage – Supports it
  5. Joe Morreale – Supports it
  6. Rebekah Ratliff – Supports it

Three of those candidates are guaranteed to win, three of them are not. Even if we lose all three of those seats, there should still be enough support on the new Board to roll this back. This is why I suggested we wait and see who was running again. If Jason Marton or Michael Guzman had decided to run again, there would be a chance that a rollback could be blocked. As it stands now, I like these odds. A rollback will happen. It’s the right thing to do and it’s the fiscally responsible thing to do. There won’t be enough idiots left on the Board in December to block it.

I’m not letting redistricting affect my vote on the bond as I truly believe redistricting is dead.

Bond Projects

Monroe HS

Current core capacity of 1,270 and enrollment of 1,180. Current enrollment is 40 students below McKibben’s latest forecast and Monroe MS is down 66. However, that forecast shows enrollment going up above the current core capacity after 5 years. The current classroom capacity is also too low for the latest forecast.

Looking at these numbers, I think this project is one that needs to be done.

Piedmont HS

Current core capacity of 1,650 and enrollment of 1,375. Current enrollment is down 14 students below forecasts. Forecasts show enrollment going as high as 1,600 and then dropping down to 1,500 by 2025. However, Piedmont’s classroom capacity is too low for the latest forecast. The bond will not increase core capacity (cafeteria space) but will increase classroom capacity.

Looking at these numbers, I think this project is one that needs to be done.

Porter Ridge MS/HS

Current core capacity is 2,352/1,615 (MS/HS) and enrollment is 1,336/1,740. Current classroom capacity is 1,216/1,877. The middle school is over its classroom capacity and the high school is over its core capacity. Enrollment is forecasted to grow without a decline (forecast goes through 2025/26).

If we roll back redistricting 100%, Porter Ridge will still be in trouble. Porter Ridge was overcrowded and capped before redistricting. This is the problem that the BOE should have fixed 3 years ago, instead of trying to get Yercheck’s friends rich.

I had hoped that the charter school in the area would lower the middle school numbers a little bit, but that didn’t happen. The middle school is 18 students ABOVE forecasts. The elementary schools are down more than 200 students across the cluster, but it looks like the middle school students stayed in UCPS.

Looking at these numbers, I think this project is one that needs to be done. Actually, this one should have been done 3 years ago.

Sun Valley HS

This is one of the schools redistricting broke. Redistricting pushed hundreds of extra students here, well above what the core capacity could ever possibly handle. If we rollback redistricting 100%, this school might not have capacity issues. However, there is more going on at Sun Valley HS than capacity problems.

Part of the bond package will be a new stadium for the school. The current stadium is not ADA compliant. As the father of 2 disabled children, you cannot fathom how pissed off I am about this. ADA laws have been around for nearly 30 years. The fact that we still have facilities in this county that are not ADA compliant is a disgrace. Every BOE member that sat on the facilities committee for the last 10 years owes our children an apology. Don’t even get me started on the lazy, self-serving, good-for-nothing assholes that filled the Chairman’s seat and never did a damn thing to help. Kudos to Melissa Merrell who sat in the Chairman’s seat for only a few months and instantly made this a top priority. Do you want to know why I support Melissa Merrell? This is it. Right here.

Sure, the $250 million CCEP had some ADA compliance things in it, but they were also bundled with $200 million dollars of excess bloat and unrelated bullshit. Typical political crap where they give us a few small necessary items and then tie them together with crap that we neither want nor need. Don’t let Kevin Stewart fool you when he says he gave our disabled children dignity. He held our children’s dignity for ransom, to the tune of $200 million.

Our disabled children deserve better than this. My sons deserve better than this. If for no other reason than this project, I would ask you to support the bond.

Western Union ES

Current core capacity is 692 and enrollment is 597. This year we are 100 students BELOW the latest forecast due to students transferring to charter schools. Without charter schools, this school was in desperate need of relief. This is the other school that redistricting broke. At the time of the bond proposal, this school absolutely should have been on the list. Now, it might not be needed.

Looking exclusively at the latest numbers, I will say that this project is no longer necessary, strictly from a capacity stand point.

Transportation Facility

I won’t lie to you. I hate this project. The Goldmine Rd property was purchased years ago by UCPS from a developer who had been working as a land/purchasing agent for UCPS. Do you know who sold that land to the developer? Dr. Mary Ellis and her family. In the corporate world, this is called insider trading and it gets you thrown in prison. In Union County, it’s called business as usual.

However, the Ellis family cashed their check for $1.4 million dollars years ago. Even if we can somehow toss this project out the window, there’s no getting our money back now. My dislike for this project is strictly emotional, and I try to vote based on facts, not emotions. The facts are that we probably do need some additional maintenance bays for our bus fleet.

I can’t guarantee that this project will fix what’s broken, but when it comes to our kids safety, I try not to gamble.


Redistricting is dead and there is a very clear roadmap to rolling it back. Talk to the future Board Members and confirm it for yourself if you must. I’m willing to vote in favor of the bond based on what I see is a very likely rollback for the 2017/18 school year. Redistricting will become a none-issue.

The lack of ADA compliance at Sun Valley HS is a disgrace and we should be ashamed that we allowed it to go this long. The new stadium and other ADA issues is not about test scores or school ratings, it’s about human dignity. It’s about doing the right thing for our kids. It’s about doing the right thing for my sons. If for no other reason, please vote Yes for my sons.

When redistricting is rolled back, grandfathering will be allowed, which means there may still be capacity issues for those who choose to stay. Porter Ridge will certainly have capacity issues that need to be addressed regardless. With the exception of Western Union ES, the projects, from a capacity stand point, all look good to me. Western Union doesn’t need the capacity increase now that the charter schools have opened.

While I hate the insider trading deal behind the Transportation Center, that was years ago and there’s nothing that we can do to get that money back from Dr. Ellis’ family.

I’m voting Yes on the UCPS bond, I think you should too.

District 5

Joe Morreale

Joe is exactly the kind of person we need on the Board of Education. He has a professional background in supply chains, logistics, and technology. This gives him a unique advantage here. As you probably know, UCPS is losing almost $1 million each year in state funding because of the inefficient bus routes they implemented during redistricting. Despite parents and DPI confirming this loss of funding before the redistricting vote, the old guard had it in their heads that more miles and longer routes for fewer kids is more efficient.

The old guard on the Board of Education never cared about the facts or accurate numbers, they did what they wanted however they wanted, taxpayers and students be damned. UCPS needs Board Members who are driven by facts and reason and not personal agendas. UCPS needs Joe Morreale. Joe is committed to neighborhood schools, in order to reduce bus routes and improve our efficiency rating. We’re bleeding nearly $1 million each and every year. Joe is the best candidate on the ballot to help find a solution there.

Amelie Shill Schoel

shill: an accomplice of a hawker, gambler, or swindler who acts as an enthusiastic customer to entice or encourage others.

On one hand, Amelie is an involved parent with a proven history of volunteering and supporting UCPS schools. That’s very admirable. On the other hand, Amelie is nothing more than a shill for Richard Yercheck and John Collins. Amelie was hand-picked to be John Collins replacement a long time ago. Let that sink in for a moment. Amelie on the Board of Education was a foregone conclusion before the voters even knew what was coming.

It’s the same pattern we saw with redistricting. Richard Yercheck and the rest of the gang decided in advance that redistricting was going to happen to help Yercheck’s developer friends. Regardless of the facts we presented or the lies we uncovered, redistricting was a done-deal before the public ever found out. Without Joe Morreale stepping up, Amelie would have been nothing more than proxy for Yercheck and Collins.

But don’t take my word for it, ask Amelie.

  • Ask her about her connections with Yercheck and Collins and the rest of the gang.
  • Ask her about redistricting.
  • Ask her if she would ever vote to approve something for someone else’s kids if she wouldn’t want it for her own kids.
  • Ask her if she has ever spoken out about UCPS in a way that disagreed with Yercheck and Collins.

Go ahead, ask her.

  • If she’s being honest, she will tell you that she has been in constant contact with Yercheck and Collins for years with regards to UCPS. Dozens and dozens and dozens and dozens of e-mails, txt messages, and phone calls all while the rest of us were completely shut out from the process. We couldn’t get a meeting with Yercheck to save our lives, but they have Amelie on speed dial.
  • If she’s being honest, she’ll tell you she supported redistricting so long as it didn’t touch her community.
  • If she’s being honest, she will tell you she was (and is) willing to throw our kids under the bus if it benefits her kids.
  • If she’s being honest, she will tell you she’s never gone against Yercheck and Collins, she has no track record of independent thinking.

If her answers don’t match up to what I am telling you now, ask her to prove it.

If she says she’s not at the beck and call Yercheck or Collins, ask her to show her cell phone records for the last few years. Find out how many times she called or txted them. Bonus points if you count the number of interactions that happened around BOE meetings. How many interactions did you find? Now look at the amount of time she spent communicating with BOE members who disagreed with Yercheck or Collins. Tell me, is she communicating with all of the BOE or just a few people on one side?

If she says she disagreed with redistricting, ask her to provide the messages she sent to her friends on the Board during the redistricting fight. Clearly she would have told them how she felt. I wonder how many e-mails or txt messages she will be able to produce where she stood up to her friends and benefactors?

If she says she would never support forcing anything on someone else that she wouldn’t want for her own kids, ask her how many times she told her neighbors that she made a deal with the BOE which saved them from redistricting. Ask her how many kids she threw under the proverbial bus so she could brag to her friends that she’s the hero.

The bottom line is this. We just got rid of Jason Marton, we don’t want more of that kind of selfishness at UCPS. Let’s stop putting leaders in place who will sacrifice the safety and education of children to accomplish the goals of their friends. She is the literal definition of a shill in every way and I will not support her.


Dennis Rape

There are a few times in the last few years that I posted a prediction that didn’t pan out the way I thought it would. However, I’ve been right about nearly every issue I’ve researched and written about. In my 2014 Voters Guide, I wrote about Dennis and my position hasn’t changed. You can read it here.

As I said in 2014, if there were 2 at-large positions open, I would be voting for Dennis. Here in 2016, with 2 at-large positions open, I’m voting for Dennis. I’ve spoken with him personally and we both agree that neighborhood schools are important. We shouldn’t be shipping kids to their 4th or 5th closest school. It’s a waste of time and money. I believe Dennis’ only agenda is to fix what’s broken and to make UCPS a better place. He’s absolutely getting my vote this year and I think he should get yours too.

Lee Henage

I’ve never met Lee or spoken with him directly. But I’ve seen the charts and graphs he creates and shares with the rest of us. He’s a numbers guy, through and through. He has a talent for weeding through the data and making sense of it all. He’s a man after my own heart. I love numbers. Numbers don’t lie, unless of course those numbers came from Don Hughes at Facilities. His numbers lie because he cooks the books to fit an agenda.

I don’t know where Lee stands on every issue, and to be honest, that’s fine with me. If he’s committed to fact-based decision making, that’s all I need to know. I don’t have to agree with every decision, so long as that decision is based on facts.

We need someone like Lee Henage on the Board who is able to call out the fake data UCPS is known for producing. We need someone like Lee Henage who is willing to follow the numbers instead of a pre-determined agenda.

Christina Helms

I’ll be honest here; I was shocked to find that Christina Helms put her name in the hat for re-election. After Ellis, Webb, Stewart, and Collins all ran away, I figured she’d be running away faster than Monty Python’s Brave Sir Robin. I have no idea why she’s on the ballot. The only positive things she’s done for UCPS is to make an award named after late BOE member John Crowder. That’s it.

On the other side of the coin, Christina Helms voted in favor of every single disaster UCPS has suffered in the last few years. Here are only a few of the highlights:

  • When UCPS wanted to burn $1 million a year and transfer students unnecessarily, Christina Helms was happy to vote Yes.
  • When Dr. Ellis wanted to transfer millions of dollars out of the budget for instruction and buy Lenovo laptops, Christina Helms was there voting Yes.
  • When UCPS wanted to extend Dr. Ellis’ employment contract without bothering to perform her annual review (which would have identified her glaring conflict of interest with Lenovo), Christina Helms was there voting to approve it.

Let’s not forget the Principal at Benton Heights ES who asked for $46,000 dollars for the Leader In Me program. This principal wanted to implement a program that was already in place at other schools with larger PTO budgets. Benton Heights does not have a PTO budget that could afford it so she went to the BOE and asked for funds. Christina Helms couldn’t believe the audacity of a funding request that didn’t pass through her hands via committee, so she voted against it. Yet when Gary Sides asked Christina to put the Leader In Me program on the agenda for the curriculum committee, she refused! What kind of bullshit is that?

If you were at the most recent curriculum committee meeting, you would have heard Christina Helms complain that the principal at Benton Heights found a way to fund the program despite her best effort to stonewall her.

I won’t support this program because it wasn’t passed through my committee. When it comes time to bring it before my committee, I won’t let it go on the agenda to be discussed. When you find a way to fund the program without me, I’ll get pissy at you for going around me.

If UCPS made a mistake, you can bet Christina Helms was on the wrong side of that vote. Christina Helms is the last vestige of a failed agenda and she needs to go. She has nothing but a proven track record of failure at every turn. Let’s send her slithering back into the hole from whence she came.

District 1

Rebekah Ratliff

I haven’t had much interaction with either of the candidates for District 1, so I won’t make a strong recommendation one way or another. There have been “meet and greet” opportunities for the District 1 candidates and I’ve seen Rebekah Ratliff but not Candice Sturdivant. I have friends who are more familiar with the District 1 race and they are all supporting Rebekah. If I lived in District 1, I would be voting for Rebekah too. Though if I lived in District 1, I would have been more active in getting to know both of these candidates. So please take this recommendation with a grain of salt.

Candice Sturdivant

I’ve had no interaction with Candice Sturdivant. I have no idea where she stands on any issues and I can’t find anything online to learn more. I don’t say this to be negative, I want to make it clear that I’m not informed enough to have a strong opinion in this District one way or another. Based on my limited exposure to the District 1 candidates, I would be voting for Rebekah Ratliff.


District 2

Matt Helms

District 2 is the seat previously filled by Kevin Stewart before he tucked tail and ran away. Stewart did his very best to run UCPS into the ground and then he abandoned ship to avoid facing the consequences for his actions. While I would have preferred to see Kevin Stewart get clobbered in the election by Matt Helms, I can’t complain when Matt Helms gets to walk into the seat unchallenged. Let’s be honest, Kevin Stewart set the bar really low. But everything I have heard about Matt tells me he will be a great representative for the students and families of District 2.

District 6

Kathy Heintel

There is a relatively short list of people who know more about UCPS and who have invested more time into it than I have. Kathy’s name is on that list. Ask her anything about UCPS and the BOE, she probably knows the answer. There are only a handful of people who have been attending every BOE meeting and every committee meeting for years, and Kathy is one of those people. In a way, I wish Jason Marton had been willing to run again in District 6 if only because I would have enjoyed watching Kathy destroy him at the polls. She is, by far, the single most qualified BOE candidate on the ballot and I am ecstatic at the prospect that she is going to be representing my kids in District 6.

UCPS (Finally) Provides Accurate DPI Capacity Numbers

For the first time in many years, UCPS has posted accurate capacity numbers. Let that sink in for a moment. I’ve been chasing down DPI capacity calculations from UCPS for several years. These are simple calculations based on formulas provided by the NC Department of Public Instruction. It’s basic math. Yet for some reason, UCPS has been unable to provide these numbers FOR YEARS. Melissa Merrell has been the head of the Facilities Committee for a few months and all of a sudden it’s raining data.

Todays post is sponsored by the word “Perjury”

I think it’s worth mentioning here that I reached out to Don Hughes personally as well as filing a FOIA request several years ago, in order to gain access to these capacity numbers. Dr. Ellis, Dr. Webb, and all of the BOE filed sworn affidavits indicating UCPS had no records for Core Capacity. A couple of months ago, Don Hughes admitted that there is a spreadsheet used to calculate Core Capacity for all of the schools and he has had it in his possession since he took the job running the Facilities Department back in 2009. What’s that word that means you intentionally made false statements under oath? Oh yeah, perjury. That’s the word I was looking for. Perjury. Don Hughes already acknowledged that he arbitrarily adjusted the Core Capacity numbers to make redistricting look better. We also have Facilities e-mails confirming that the Core Capacity numbers were changed to make redistricting look better. Now we know Don Hughes is just as dishonest as the rest of the gang. With any luck, Don Hughes will be unemployed by the end of this school year. You shouldn’t get a free pass when you intentionally put children in harms way to fit your personal agenda.

And now we return to your regularly scheduled post…

Back to the topic at hand. Over the last few weeks I’ve asked the BOE (again) to provide documentation on the various types of capacity measurements for our schools. None of it is complicated. All of it is very straightforward. Lo and behold, every single item I requested was provided, usually within a couple of days. Not only did Melissa Merrell provide the information I requested, I double-checked the math, and it appears to be correct. I ran my own Core Capacity numbers a couple of years ago and posted them on this website. The numbers I ran two years ago appear to be an exact match for the numbers Melissa Merrell sent me. Again, it’s not difficult math, so the fact that I had the right answer two years ago isn’t really a big deal. It’s shameful that UCPS was unable to provide such basic information for so long and they chose to resort to perjury to try and hide their manipulations.

Core Capacity

UCPS has committed to using a formula to calculate Core Capacity based on 4-seatings of lunch in the cafeteria. DPI offers several different formulas for Core Capacity, this is one of them. I’ve said it before, I don’t care which formula UCPS uses, so long as the same formula is applied across all the schools equally. This Core Capacity formula essentially tells us how many students the school cafeteria can feed.

Classroom Capacity

UCPS is also using a standard DPI formula for calculating Classroom Capacity. Classroom Capacity is based on the quantity of each type of classroom. General purpose classrooms are worth a certain number of students, chemistry classrooms are worth a certain number of students, etc. etc. All of those numbers are added together and you get Classroom Capacity. This Classroom Capacity tells us how many students a school can educate at one time. I’ve been told that for high schools with block schedules, DPI creates a lower number based on 77% attendance. I’m still trying to confirm this. However, the 77% value isn’t used in calculating anything else, so even if we throw that number out, it doesn’t change anything. It should also be noted that the physical size of a classroom doesn’t change the number of students DPI assigns to it for Classroom Capacity. A general purpose classroom that is 900 sqft in an older school counts for the same number of students as a 1,500 sqft general purpose classroom in a newer school.

School Capacity

School Capacity is a new construct that we haven’t seen in UCPS, at least not in the last few years. At first I was confused by adding a 3rd capacity measurement but after seeing all the numbers, this makes sense. If you look at the newer middle schools, their Core Capacity is more than 2,300 students because of their large cafeterias. But their Classroom Capacity is around 1,200. There’s no logical sense to shoving 2,300 students into a school when you can only teach 1,200 of them. Likewise you can’t shove 1,500 students into a school when you can only feed 1,200 of them (Sun Valley HS). This is where School Capacity comes into play. School Capacity is being set by the Facilities Committee and is based on the lower value of the Core or Classroom Capacity. If Core Capacity is too high, then School Capacity is set to match Classroom. If Classroom Capacity is too high, then School Capacity is set to match Core. It’s not arbitrary and so far, it looks like it is being applied equally across all the schools

In the near future, I will be writing up an analysis on what these accurate capacity numbers show with regards to the 2016 bond, as well as what these numbers show us about the redistricting plan. I’ll give you a hint though, we were 100% right about redistricting being a big steaming pile of bullshit. If you want to run the numbers yourself, you are welcome to it. You can find a copy of all these numbers for the schools related to the 2016 bond at the website, under Bond Resources. You can also grab a copy of the PDF file here.

Go, be fruitful, and calculate… or arithmecate… or… something… But take a look at the numbers. We fought long and hard to get access to accurate data. Turns out all we needed to get to the truth was get rid of Kevin Stewart. Raise your hand if this shocks you. This is me, not raising my hand.

-“Giddy As A Geek With Numbers To Crunch” Dad