By Zenzele Barnes
the Durham VOICE
On Feb. 24, Durham Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Hugh Osteen visited SeeSaw Studio.
The purpose of the visit was to present DPS’ new strategic plan for student success in front of parents and student alike. The plan will be in effect for four years and will likely impact the next generation of students.
It was Osteen’s first time unveiling the plan to a group. The plan stated goals to be accomplished to help students excel in the classroom as well as improvements to current run-down facilities and equipment.
Osteen’s presentation covered a broad range of topics from budgeting money to keeping the school environment safe. After the presentation, there was a question and answer session in which everyone could share their concerns and observations within schools and the community.
The conversation spread far beyond the walls of the schools and into student’s home situations and their interactions with classmates. One of the controversial issues mentioned was bullying.
Most of the SeeSaw designers cited that they had seen incidents involving bullying at their respective schools.
Bullying is a serious matter that schools are trying to address all over the country. The physical and psychological damage it has on a victim can have serious effects on their self-esteem and morale. The conversation of bullying led to discussion of the current suspension policy and how effective it is in student discipline.
Across the board the students noticed inconsistency in punishment for similar offences. Certain administrators and the student’s individual character, in some cases, affected the length of their suspension and how professionally it was dealt with.
Another topic that sparked conversation was the food served in the school cafeteria. The quality of the food was a huge question-mark for both student and parents. Most agreed that it is important to know where the food comes from, as well as its nutritional value. Osteen assured the crowd that DPS as a whole is making more of an effort to reach out to local farmers and develop partnerships.
In addressing everyone’s concerns, Osteen was friendly and very personable. He tried to make a connection with everyone and periodically wrote down notes of the concerns of others and encouraged everyone to email will follow up questions.
The crowd at SeeSaw was very vocal in their worries and in constructive criticism, and he responded to it all positively.
The new strategic plan is online at http://www.dpsnc.net/stratplan/index.html.
Everyone who will be affected by it is encouraged to look and give feedback.