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News from the Board -- March 17, 2021Posted by Jessica Wells on 3/17/2021 4:10:00 PM
On Wednesday, March 17, the Onslow County Board of Education held a special meeting at the Eastern North Carolina Regional Skills Center to discuss the transition of OCS middle and high schools from Plan B to Plan A.
Dr. Barry Collins, OCS superintendent, opened the meeting by sharing with the Board that there has been a change in legislation that would allow for the possibility of transitioning grades 6-12 to Plan A. He walked through some of the specifics of Session Law 2021-4, which requires all districts in the state to open elementary schools under Plan A and allows for districts to decide whether to open middle and high schools under Plan A or Plan B.
OCS elementary schools have already been open under Plan A for several months, while grades 6-12 have been attending school in cohorts under Plan B. Dr. Collins explained that the main difference between Plan B and Plan A is the transition from required social distancing to social distancing to the greatest extent possible. All other COVID-19 precautions, including wellness checks, face coverings, emphasized hand hygiene and limited non-essential visitors are still in place under Plan A. Session Law 2021-4 also states that the governor still reserves the right to close local schools as needed if cases rise and that districts must continue to provide a virtual option for families.
Dr. Collins requested that the Board approve a transition for all 6-12 students to Plan A beginning April 6, 2021.
After discussion of how to best support teachers during the transition back to 5-days-per-week instruction, the Board amended the original motion to transition grades 6-12 to Plan A to include the addition of two teacher workdays on April 21 and May 12.
The Board also discussed the logistics of returning all students to school full time, including cleaning and sanitation, transportation, meal preparation and more. Staff assured the Board that all possible precautions would be taken to keep students safe and ensure that learning environments will be healthy for all staff and students.
After all discussion and questions asked of district staff, the Board unanimously approved the transition of grades 6-12 to Plan A and the addition of two teacher workdays.
News from the Board -- March 2, 2021Posted by Jessica Wells on 3/3/2021 4:00:00 PM
The Onslow County Board of Education held its regular monthly meeting on March 2, 2021 at the Eastern North Carolina Regional Skills Center. Agenda items for this meeting included the 2021-2022 Head Start Project approval, the naming of the West Central Area Elementary School Project, school redistricting, and a calendar presentation.
Before the meeting’s general business began, staff, Board members and community members took time to remember and honor the life of former OCS Board Chairwoman Pam Thomas. Thomas, who passed away in December 2020 from complications of COVID-19, was remembered as a caring and dedicated educator, who always went the extra mile for her friends and her community. The tribute to Thomas included a heartfelt video on her life and career, and the presentation of her gavel and framed photos of the schools she helped open in her time on the Board to a special friend of hers.
First in the meeting’s general business was the Head Start Project approval. Luisa Davis, OCS director of early childhood initiatives, presented to the Board information on the coming year’s Head Start plan. Davis said that the program offers a high-quality education at no cost, early intervening services, access to positive learning environments, and family liaison services to their more-than-350 preschool students. Through play-based learning, the program supports children's cognitive and social-emotional development, as well as their health, nutrition and safety. The program, according to Davis, faces a variety of challenges including ensuring equitable access, raising community awareness for the program, and sustaining the quality of the program with rising costs.
In her presentation of the Head Start Grant Application, Davis said that the program’s 2020-2025 goals include enhancing the delivery of developmentally appropriate curriculum, strengthening classroom and center communities, enhancing family engagement and education opportunities, and enhancing community partnerships. The 2021-2022 grant would be for a total of $2,049,523, which includes over $1.8 million for personnel, materials and contracted services, $76,161 for indirect cost, $24,354 for professional development, and $88,250 for other costs. The Board unanimously approved five different parts of the Head Start Project, including the 2021-2022 grant application, the budget justification, the cost allocation plan, the training and technical assistance plan, and the transportation waiver.
Next to the podium was OCS Chief Operations Officer Steve Myers, who first asked the Board to proceed with the naming of the new elementary school being built in the west central part of the county. Myers, who had collaborated with staff and community members prior to the meeting, presented the Board with two options for the school’s name: West Central Elementary School and Clear View Elementary School. After hearing the names and feedback on each option, the Board unanimously decided to name the new school Clear View Elementary School.
Following the naming of the new school, Myers began the discussion of how the district would move forward with redistricting to accommodate the its opening for the 2022-2023 school year. He presented to the Board a set of viable options that he and his staff had developed through research and data analysis. Seven existing elementary schools would be affected by this redistricting process: Heritage Elementary, Meadow View Elementary, Southwest Elementary, Richlands Elementary, Stateside Elementary, Carolina Forest International Elementary, and Blue Creek Elementary. Now that the Board has seen the preliminary options, Myers said that the next step will be collecting community feedback through in-person meetings, email, social media, etc. Community meetings will be held at Heritage Elementary School on March 15, Stateside Elementary on March 16, and Meadow View Elementary School on March 18. Community members can also submit feedback by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last on the agenda was a presentation from OCS Chief Communications Officer Brent Anderson on the school calendar. Anderson gave the Board a brief overview of how the different grade levels are all currently attending school on modified calendars due to COVID-19. He said that, moving forward, the district would like to get back into the routine of always having two years of approved school calendars. Anderson shared with the Board all the state-mandated calendar requirements that school districts must meet. Requirements include a start date no earlier than the Monday closest to August 26 and an end date no later than the Friday closest to June 11, a minimum of 185 days or 1,025 hours of instruction, at least nine teacher workdays, a minimum of 10 annual leave days, 11 legal holidays, etc. Anderson presented the Board with draft calendars for the next two school years, which they will consider and approve in an upcoming meeting.
Just before the close of the meeting, Dr. Barry Collins shared his superintendent comments. He reflected on the career of Ms. Thomas and spoke highly of OCS school nurses and staff for their volunteer work with the Onslow County COVID-19 vaccine clinics. He also shared how happy he was to see so many of our employees receive their vaccinations.