Chapel Hill High graduate announces his run for CHCCS School Board
For immediate release

June 2, 2011– When James Barrett left Chapel Hill for college in Virginia in 1987, he didn’t expect he’d return to this Southern Part of Heaven anytime soon. When he met his future wife at UNC one summer, they talked about how Chapel Hill might be a great place to retire to–someday. But after only a few years of graduate school and work in Atlanta and Raleigh, the Barretts bought a house in Chapel Hill in 1995 because they knew this truly is a special place, with special people–and especially, as all the real-estate agents will tell you, with good schools. Now in their dream house right on Morgan Creek, the Barretts (plus two) are here to stay. And James is running for a seat on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education to make sure the schools are not just good, but great–for everyone in our community.

“We have an opportunity right now with Dr. Forcella as our new superintendent to bring changes to our schools,” Barrett said. “We as a community share a set of goals and values for our school district. Now is the time to do things a little differently to make real progress on those goals.” The community agrees that these goals include closing the achievement gap and educating every child. But progress has been inadequate, and the school system has not been creative about solving the gaps in some time, Barrett said.

Having lived in the district almost all of the past 34 years, Barrett brings the perspective of a former CHCCS student to this race. He attended Seawell Elementary, Phillips Junior High, and Chapel Hill High back when it was just “The High School.” He also brings 20 years of experience leading global change efforts in IBM’s Business Transformation organization. And his largest volunteer time commitment in the past five years has been Orange County Justice United (, where he served on the Education Action team and was a founding member of the Strategy team. “Justice United taught me how to listen to the stories of all people and turn our concerns into actionable issues that make a difference for our community.”

Barrett volunteers at Seawell every week, using what the kids call his “freaky” math skills to tutor students of all levels. He also volunteers as a parks and recreation baseball and basketball coach in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Barrett is an active leader at his church, where he served as an officer on the congregational council for two years, during a time of transition in church leadership similar to what the school district is experiencing now.

Asked why anyone other than parents should care about the school board race, Barrett replied: “The success of our schools in creating an educated work force is key to the future for all of us. Providing a great education is certainly the right thing to do, but beyond that, education that leads to a strong economy will support, for example, the future success of private as well as government retirement benefits we all depend on.”

This is an especially important year for for the whole community to care about the race and take advantage of the opportunities with the new district leadership, Barrett said. “We need leadership on the school board that can make a difference in reaching our shared goals.”

For more information or to contact James Barrett, see his web site:

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