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News from the Board -- June 29, 2020Posted by Jessica Coston on 7/1/2020 11:30:00 AM
On Monday, June 29, the Onslow County Board of Education held a special meeting at the Eastern North Carolina Regional Skills Center. Agenda items included COVID-19 updates, the adoption of the 2020-2021 budget, the 2020-2021 Career and Technical Education plan, and demolition plans for the old Dixon Middle School building.
First, the Board heard from Assistant County Manager Sheri Slater, who shared with the Board and OCS staff the measures Onslow County is taking, and recommends citizens taking, to slow the spread of COVID-19. Though Slater said county officials are hopeful that the county’s COVID-19 numbers are heading in the right direction, she emphasized the importance of continuing to wear face coverings and maintain social distancing. Slater, in response to Board member questions regarding schools reopening, suggested taking precautions such as having students eat lunch in classrooms instead of cafeterias, having teachers move from room to room instead of having students transition, and more. She also shared that the county is prepared to work with the school district to test OCS employee ahead of their return to school buildings.
Following Slater’s updates, Deputy Superintendent Dr. Beth Folger took to the podium to share OCS’ plans regarding the Summer Jump Start program and updates on how planning is going for reopening schools in August.
Beginning with the Jump Start program, Dr. Folger explained that House Bill 1043 requires LEAs to provide a summer learning opportunity for rising 1st through 5th graders whose learning has been negatively affected by the impacts of COVID-19. The Jump Start program will include 10 student days, July 15-30, and two teacher workdays. EC teachers, teaching assistants, guidance counselors, nurses and social workers will be on hand to support students and staff attending the program. Daily content will include two hours of literacy instruction, one hour of math instruction, social emotional learning, lunch and health and safety protocols.
As of the time of the meeting, 502 students had confirmed their in-person attendance. A virtual option will also be available for families who feel more comfortable with online instruction.
Next, Dr. Folger discussed the district’s development of the re-entry plan for August 2020. The district’s guiding principles, Dr. Folger said, are considering the safety and wellness of students and employees, responding to the needs of vulnerable populations, maintaining consistent communication with families, and being adaptable in order to move back and forth on a continuum of plans based on public health needs. She shared that the district, like all other LEAs across North Carolina, are awaiting word from the state regarding which plan schools will reopen under.
There are three possible plans for school reopening: Plans A, B and C. Plan A would require “minimal social distancing,” meaning buildings would be open to their full student populations, but certain aspects of the school day would need to be modified to allow for social distancing and thorough hygiene procedures. Plan B would require “moderate social distancing,” meaning that school buildings could only be open at up to 50 percent capacity. Plan C would require “remote learning only.”
Dr. Folger shared that though planning for a variety of unknowns has been challenging, the district is comfortable with its plans for the potential implementation of Plan A, meaning that many elements of Plan B have already been developed. Plan B would require additional planning for opening schools at half capacity, but the preparation of school buildings for Plan A is very similar to the preparation that would be done in the event of Plan B. Dr. Folger said that the district is also prepared for Plan C, as it is similar to the structure the district embraced when schools closed in March for COVID-19.
Dr. Folger said that district staff have been working hard to plan for all possible scenarios and have formed project teams consisting of principals, Core Council, executive staff, communications staff, and various departments to ensure that all stakeholders are involved in plan development. So far, the district has in place plans to distribute materials to schools including face coverings, plexiglass shields, floor decals to indicate social distancing requirements, and more.
Following Dr. Folger’s presentation, Chief Finance Officer Jeff Hollamon presented to the Board his request that they adopt the budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The local current expense fund approved earlier this year totaled $65,968,075.74, while the capital outlay fund totaled $3,348,418. The budget also includes all other funding coming from state and federal sources. The Board unanimously voted to adopt the budget as presented.
Next, CTE Director Chris Bailey shared with the Board the local 2020-2021 Career and Technical Education Plan. Bailey said that due to changes in the Excellence in CTE Act, the district’s CTE department has made changes in program offerings. The number of programs has decreased from 8 to 6, with Business & Marketing and Trade, Technology, Engineering & Industrial Education becoming combined subjects, and Computer Science & IT Education becoming an additional subject area. Other changes include the updated definition of a “concentrator” student and a new method of interpreting data.
Bailey said that, similar to years prior, the CTE focus will be on growing the local workforce, expanding career development services, and establishing full time special populations services. New pathways to be offered include computer science, which will be offered at all high schools, and nursing fundamentals, which will be offered at the Eastern North Carolina Regional Skills Center. New course and/or program offerings being considered include robotics, advanced manufacturing, heavy equipment, industrial maintenance, and boat manufacturing.
The Board unanimously approved the CTE plan.
Last on the agenda was a presentation from Chief Operations Officer Steve Myers regarding demolition plans for the old Dixon Middle School building. Myers said that plans include the demolition of parts of the old DMS facility, including the main building, main annex, cafeteria, classroom wing and white building. The ages of those buildings range from 70 to 92 years old. He also shared that it was determined these parts of the building would need to be demolished due to deficiencies with the foundation, roofing, mechanicals, windows, doors and more. Part of the building will remain standing and be used as an annex for Dixon High School, which is located on the same campus.
Myers shared that the lowest responsive, responsible bidder for the demolition project was Webb Harrell Construction Service Corporation, who bid $345,000 for the job. The Board unanimously approved Webb Harrell Construction to demolish parts of the old DMS facility.
News from the Board -- June 2, 2020Posted by Jessica Coston on 6/5/2020 11:40:00 AM
The Onslow County Board of Education held its regular monthly meeting on June 2, 2020 at the Eastern North Carolina Regional Skills Center. Agenda items for this meeting included the 2020-2021 Title I plan and COVID-19 updates regarding facilities, instruction and athletics.
To begin the meeting, Director of Federal Programs Dwayne Snowden presented to the Board the 2020-2021 plan for the Title I program. Mr. Snowden said that the major considerations of the plan included a district needs assessment, supporting math PD and instruction, supporting the OCS instructional framework, early intervention and remediation, supporting the OCS early childhood program, and school-level needs.
Mr. Snowden shared that the district’s plan would serve elementary and middle schools with an economically disadvantaged population of 35 percent or higher. Based on that criteria, 18 of 20 elementary schools and all 8 of the district’s middle schools qualify and will receive funding. Total Title I school-level funding comes to $4,063,089. In addition to supporting district-level initiatives such as math PD and instruction and the early childhood program, that money will go toward funding school supports such as Title I coaches, remedial/acceleration services, expanded learning opportunities, equipment, supplies, professional development, and the funding of additional school-level positions such as teachers, assistants, and/or tutors.
The Board unanimously approved the district’s Title I plan for the 2020-2021 school year.
Next on the agenda was a presentation regarding facility rentals and usage agreements from OCS Chief of Operations Steve Myers. Mr. Myers shared with the Board that under Board Policy 5030, the district may rent out its facilities to three different tiers of renters. Level 1 is government agencies, Level 2 is nonprofit organizations and Level 3 is for-profit organizations. Rental fees vary, based on renter level, and all renters must fill out a facility usage agreement and ensure that they have all necessary insurance.
Due to COVID-19, facility rentals were put on hold as of March 17, 2020. Recently, NC Executive Order 138 made allowance for OCS to resume facility rentals for day camps, faith-based worship groups, and governmental agency usage on a case by case basis. Facility rentals became available again as of June 1, 2020 and all rentals must comply with executive orders and NCDHHS guidelines. All renters will be charged a surcharge for additional cleaning and disinfecting that will be required to maintain the safety of facilities.
Next, Deputy Superintendent Dr. Beth Folger presented to the Board information about the district’s plan to provide summer remediation following the COVID-19 closures. The goal of this “jump-start” program is to provide supplemental summer learning for students whose learning has been negatively affected by the impacts of COVID-19. The district’s plan will be based on Session Law 2020-4, House Bill 1043 and will be submitted to NCDPI on or before June 22, 2020. Current estimates show that approximately 7500 students are projected to qualify.
Interventions will be provided for students in kindergarten through third grade who were not on track to meet year-end expectations on their mid-year assessments, students in fourth grade who were not on track to meet year-end expectations as identified by their reading teachers, and students in kindergarten through fourth grade who were not on track to meet year-end expectations as identified by their math teachers.
Summer learning will require a student-teacher ratio of 16:1 or smaller, transportation and nutrition supports, assessments and student learning plans, evidence-based instructional resources, support for exceptional children, social-emotional learning supports, family engagement activities, and three full weeks of full-day instruction. Dr. Folger shared with the Board that the district hopes to offer this supplemental instruction in person, but that work will be done to provide virtual options for those who would be more comfortable that way.
To close the meeting, OCS Coordinator of Athletics Greg Grantham presented to the Board updates on what a return to athletics may look like. Mr. Grantham shared that the North Carolina High School Athletics Association has provided limited guidance, saying that they encourage districts to follow National Federation, governor and NCDHHS guidelines. The NFHS recommends a three-phase, gradual return to sports activities, pre-screening participants each day, limiting participants, sanitizing and cleaning facilities and equipment and not sharing hydration stations.
OCS has started a Return to Athletics Task Force which includes representatives from school administration, athletic directors, athletic trainers, safety and security, the health department and central administration. Their task is defined as protecting the public health of our students and staff through the development and consistent implementation of standardized procedures and protocols that align with current state and local guidelines.