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News from the Board -- October 19, 2021Posted by Jessica wells on 10/19/2021 3:25:00 PM
On Tuesday, October 19, the Onslow County Board of Education held a workshop meeting at the Eastern North Carolina Regional Skills Center. Agenda items included presentations on the OCSBOE Policy Project and the Long-Range Facility Needs Assessment.
OCS Chief Communications Officer Brent Anderson opened the meeting’s first order of business, the Board’s upcoming policy project. Anderson explained to the Board that over the coming months, or potentially years, the district will undergo a policy review with the North Carolina School Boards Association. NCSBA will guide the district through the process of reviewing each policy, ensuring compliance with state and federal law, making necessary changes, and streamlining the webhosting process.
Christine Scheef, legal counsel/director of policy for NCSBA, shared with the Board an overview of what they can expect throughout the policy review process. She explained that the Board’s role is to create policy, creating a framework for the superintendent and his staff to work within. Through the policy project, the Board will have the opportunity to give attention to policies that have not been revisited in many years, update any that need to be updated, and take a look at instituting new policy at the recommendation of the school board association. She emphasized that the Board’s policy manual will never be complete, as circumstances are constantly changing, but that the school board association will be there to help navigate through future needs as well.
Board member Ken Reddic will lead the school board committee that will over oversee the policy project. Other members of the committee include Board members Melissa Oakley and Bill Lanier. Brent Anderson will be the primary staff contact for this project.
Next, OCS Chief Operating Officer Steve Myers and Ed Gordon, with Smith Sinnett Architecture, presented information on the Long-Range Facility Needs Assessment. Every 5 years, the district undergoes a local process, working with Smith Sinnett Architecture, to review data and plan for the district’s long-range facility and construction needs. The LRFNA is an accumulation of statistically valid, third-party research data on student populations, projected growth within the county, and capacities on all campuses within the district. The research is combined with a detailed evaluation of structural and systemic needs at each facility to determine projected needs for the next 10 years.
Data shared with the Board was updated information from the last LRFNA presentation given in January 2021.
Superintendent Dr. Barry Collins closed the meeting by commenting on the trajectory of COVID-19 numbers in the county and reminded the Board that COVID procedures would be on the next regular meeting’s agenda in November.
News from the Board -- October 5, 2021Posted by Jessica wells on 10/7/2021 11:15:00 AM
The Onslow County Board of Education held its regular monthly meeting on October 5 at the Eastern North Carolina Regional Skills Center. Agenda items for the meeting included COVID-19 protocols and practices and 2020-2021 accountability data.
OCS Chief Communications Officer Brent Anderson presented to the Board a Good News Spotlight segment, which highlighted Teacher of the Year finalists, students who created a fire safety activity book, and finance awards. Following the Good News Spotlight, 16 speakers spoke during the public comment period.
In the meeting’s first item of general business, the Board discussed the district’s COVID-19 protocols and whether to continue them for the next month. Board Chair Bob Williams reminded the audience that the Board is now required to revisit and vote on its COVID protocols each month, per state law. After hearing comments from the audience and discussing the benefits of continuing to require face coverings in schools, the Board decided in a 5-1 vote to keep the protocols as they were, with face covering requirements in place. The dissenting vote came from Board member Joseph Speranza, and member Eric Whitfield was not in attendance.
This decision was guided by data and input from staff who, over the weeks following the implementation of required face coverings, saw a significant drop in the number of student exclusions due to exposure at school. Data from September 7 showed nearly 2,300 students were excluded from in-person learning after an in-school exposure. Data from September 30 showed that number had dropped to just 251. Current quarantine guidelines from the CDC and NCDHHS state that individuals identified as close contacts of someone who is COVID positive must quarantine, unless both individuals were appropriately masked during the encounter. Requiring masks has greatly reduced the number of exclusions and helped the district maintain the delivery of in-person instruction students need.
Last on the agenda was a presentation from Director of Research and Accountability Lisa Thompson, who shared with the Board data from 2020-2021 testing. Thompson said that, though the past few years have been challenging due to Hurricane Florence and COVID-19, OCS trended above the state in most measured areas, including Math 1, Biology, English 2, Reading in grades 3-8, and Science in grades 5 and 8. The district also exceeded the state 4-Year Cohort Graduation Rate (OCS 89.4%; NC 86.9%), percentage of students achieving Silver or higher on WorkKeys (OCS 64%; NC 63.3%), and percentage of students meeting the ACT benchmark (OCS 57.6%; NC 55.2%). Recovering from the learning loss our students have experienced over the past year will be a process, Thompson said. She said solid core instruction will be the key to recovery.
In his closing comments, Dr. Barry Collins thanked the presenters, as well as OCS staff, for their hard work and dedication.