PITTSBORO — The Chatham County Board of Education voted Monday to approve a memorandum of understanding between the district and the Hispanic Liaison, with the goal of helping both organizations …
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PITTSBORO — The Chatham County Board of Education voted Monday to approve a memorandum of understanding between the district and the Hispanic Liaison, with the goal of helping both organizations provide more youth programs for Hispanic students.
The MOU was approved 4-0 at the board’s regular meeting. Board member Jane Allen Wilson, who also serves on the Hispanic Liaison’s board, abstained.
The new partnership is one of several efforts the district is making to provide more services to Hispanic/Latinx students and families.
“We’re excited about this new opportunity for us,” said Amanda Hartness, CCS’ assistant superintendent of academic services and instructional support. “It’s really similar or akin to what we do with Communities In School of Chatham. This agreement is designed to assist the Hispanic Liaison and our district to deliver effective youth programs for Latinx students.”
Based in Siler City, the Hispanic Liaison celebrated 26 years of service to the community last month and opened its first satellite office in Sanford last week. The organization works to provide leadership development, resources and advocacy for Chatham’s growing Hispanic population.
One of the nonprofit’s programs is Orgullo Latinx Pride (OLP), a free, year-round program for Latinx High School students in Siler City meant to increase school and community engagement and academic success. While the program has been offered at Jordan-Matthews High School for four years, Hartness said the district has not been that involved — until now. With the increased access to CCS buildings and funding, one of the goals of the MOU is to increase the number of services the Hispanic Liaison can provide. The organization will expand OLP to one other high school next fall, to be determined later this summer based on the number of English Language Learner students at Northwood and Seaforth High School.
The annual expense for the youth services and other supports to be offered in schools is $50,000, according to the district, to be funded for the first three years through Elementary and Secondary Emergency Education Relief (ESSER) funds.
“We’re super excited for this potential partnership, just because we have been on the ground doing this work for four years,” said Selina Lopez, Youth Program Director at the Hispanic Liaison, before the board took a vote. “As a first generation Latina immigrant myself, this program is something really dear to my heart because it’s something that I wish I had growing up.”
There are currently 30 youths in the program, Lopez said, a few of whom were present at Monday’s meeting to talk about the program’s impact on their lives.
Ashley Elizabeth Perez, assistant representative of OLP, is a rising senior. She first joined OLP her first year after a friend told her about it. In her first year of high school, she and her family moved to Siler City from Orange County. She previously told the News + Record how lonely she felt after leaving behind all of her friends.
“I felt really out of place when I moved here,” she told the board on Monday. “Now that I’m in this program, they made me realize that I am not alone. They deeply care about me and support me and are always there for me. I’m just so thankful for this opportunity and I hope that in the future that the possibility of this partnership will also help others (find) a new home, a family.”
“Thank you so much. Y’all have done a whale of a job,” board member David Hamm said. “You’re the good stuff that’s going on in our schools, and we need to hear more of it.”
As part of the partnership, the Hispanic Liaison will develop and operate programs for CCS’ Hispanic students, collaborate with the district to measure outcomes for developed programs and services, assist in developing college support for Latinx students and assist the district with two strategic planning focus groups.
In addition to funds and building access, CCS will identify a staffer as point-of-contact to the Hispanic Liaison, provide relevant student data (with identifiable information removed) and share district communication for the youth programs.
The agreement covers programs and services provided between Monday night and June 30, 2022, and is renewable annually thereafter.
“You all are an inspiration,” board member Melissa Hlavac said to OLP students. “I have to say, I also have a sense of orgullo when I see you because I am very similar to you all. I didn’t speak English until I was five years old. I’m first-generation American and I was the first female to go to college in my family. And watching you all, I feel like I’m getting emotional like watching what I was able to overcome, but it’s clear from where you are right now that you just get up there past your own dreams, your own expectations. So, well done.”
The board approved other memorandums on Monday, listed below.
Pittsboro Boys & Girls Club
The new club is slated to open in fall of 2021, and was previously set to be housed at Pittsboro’s Kiwanis Club on Credle Street. The club will now begin operations at CCS’s Horton Professional Learning Center, an area that was unavailable at the time of previous location discussions.
Operating from the Horton campus will save the club time and resources, club officials said, particularly as ongoing renovations at Kiwanis threatened to delay the Boys & Girls Club’s tentative opening.
The MOU doesn’t entail any additional costs for the district. (Read more about this agreement in this week’s coverage of the Boys & Girls Club.)
Siler City Futbol Club
The Siler City Futbol Club was approved to use the soccer field located at Chatham Middle School at the board’s April 19 meeting. At the time, administration was directed to create a memorandum of agreement with the group, which was presented and approved Monday. All costs incurred to create the MOA will be passed to the Siler City Futbol Club.
Communities In Schools Memorandum of Understanding 2021-2022
The district renewed its partnership with Communities In Schools, which began in the 2014-15 school year, as part of its consent agenda.
The program had four goals last year: to improve/maintain academics, improve/maintain attendance, improve/maintain student behavior, and decrease suspensions. CIS had success with each goal area, the district said. This year CIS will also offer summer programming and services to high school students at Jordan-Matthews High School.
The 2021-2022 MOU with Chatham’s CIS calls for $158,000; last year’s MOU cost the district $103,000. The additional funding will go toward adding support to J-M and providing summer services during the six weeks of programming. The district will use at-risk student funds (PRC 069) and ESSER funds to help pay those costs.
“What an exciting night for community engagement,” Wilson said following a presentation to add AVID programming at George Moses Horton Middle School. That request was approved, with planning to start next school year and the AVID program to start in the 2022-2023 school year.
“I’m just grateful that you’ve all worked so diligently for kids like that, and are willing to put focus here and helping this to happen,” she said. “It’s been an inspiring night, so thank you for what you’re doing.”
Reporter Hannah McClellan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @HannerMcClellan.