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News from the Board -- May 8, 2023Posted by Jessica Wells on 5/10/2023 11:45:00 AM
The Onslow County Board of Education and Onslow County Board of Commissioners held a joint meeting on Monday, May 8 at the Onslow County Government Complex on Northwest Corridor Boulevard. The purpose of the meeting was for the two boards to discuss student health, emergency shelters, redistricting, the OCS budget, and collaborative staff efforts.
The meeting’s business opened with Onslow County Health Director Kristen Richmond-Hoover, who shared with the boards concerns about issues surrounding the health of Onslow County youth. Onslow County has the youngest population, on average, in the state, and that means we have a large population of children. Mental health issues and vaping have been identified as some of the leading threats our children are facing.
Ms. Richmond-Hoover shared that her office would like to see the School Health Advisory Council, or SHAC, re-established to help local health officials keep up with trends in youth health and provide an avenue for intervention. One of her main recommendations for addressing health concerns in our schools was the implementation of the “Catch My Breath” initiative, which would provide educators with curriculum to prevent teens from using vaping products.
In the discussion regarding emergency shelters, the boards and staff talked about the progress being made to provide more high-quality shelter options for our community. Currently, Coastal Elementary School and Clear View Elementary School are the only shelters in the county that have built-in generators that fully support medically fragile citizens who need electricity at all times. The upcoming school construction project in the northeastern part of the county will provide an additional emergency shelter, and Jacksonville Commons Middle will soon be retrofitted with a built-in generator to provide a centralized option for medically fragile citizens in the event of an emergency.
Next on the agenda was a discussion on the upcoming redistricting of Dixon High School and Southwest High School for the 2024-2025 school year. This redistricting process will aim to relieve overcrowding at Dixon High and make better use of the capacity available at Southwest High. OCS staff shared that redistricting often takes up to two years in order to give families time to give feedback and adjust to the upcoming changes.
In budget discussions, both boards talked about the value of the current funding formula between county government and the school district, saying it allows both parties to prepare and budget appropriately.
OCS staff shared that the school district has been working to build a larger fund balance in the event of a storm or disaster like Hurricane Florence. They said the district is not where they would like to be, but that great strides have been made toward building that fund. Through incremental increases in the capital outlay budget from the county, OCS staff also shared that the district has been able to work toward catching up on deferred maintenance throughout our campuses.
Finally, the boards talked about collaborative staff efforts and possible partnerships moving forward. Discussion ranged from upcoming security collaborations between the school district and the sheriff’s office to future collaborations in sharing information with the community.
News from the Board -- May 2, 2023Posted by Jessica Wells on 5/4/2023 11:30:00 AM
The Onslow County Board of Education held its regular monthly meeting on May 2 at the Eastern North Carolina Regional Skills Center. Agenda items included budget discussions, the district’s CTE plan, the CCCC Board of Trustees appointment, two land easements, construction and renovation updates, a property transfer request, redistricting discussion, and discussion of Policy 2310: Public Participation at Board meetings.
Immediately preceding the regular meeting was a public hearing regarding the FY2023-2024 Capital Outlay and Local Current Expense budget proposals. One person spoke at the public hearing.
Before starting the meeting’s general business, the Board voted to postpone the discussion of Policy 2310 to another meeting. The Board also voted to delay the vote on policy changes in the consent agenda.
After a Good News Spotlight segment, which highlighted the achievements of our students, and a public comment period with 10 speakers, Jeff Hollamon, OCS Chief Financial Officer, presented the proposed budget.
Hollamon presented to the Board the proposed FY2023-2024 Capital Outlay and Local Current Expense budgets. Going into the new fiscal year, the superintendent’s budget priorities of instruction, mental health, safety and security will remain the same.
Local Current Expense budget highlights include additional positions to reduce class sizes, investments in our school counselors and nurses, increases in stipends for mentor teachers, additional professional development opportunities for our staff, as well as additional funding for CTE, EC programs, ESL students, and the OCS PreK program. The local current expense budget would total $93.8 million.
To address security needs, the budget will also feature emergency response training officer positions, a dedicated K-9 unit, and more. Some other highlights of the work to be done with next year’s capital outlay budget include roofing projects, HVAC repairs and replacements, security upgrades, painting three schools, new playgrounds for two schools, and much more. The capital outlay budget would total just over $4.8 million.
The Board unanimously approved the budgets as presented. Next, they will go on to the Onslow County Board of Commissioners for their approval.
Next, Will Laine, executive director of secondary education, shared with the Board the CTE program’s goals and expectations for the coming year. He shared that the program’s main goals will be to increase opportunities for students to earn industry-recognized credits, strengthen relationships with regional businesses and industry partners, as well as increase opportunities for students to participate in work-based learning. New or expanded programs for the 2023-2024 school year will include certified nursing assistant, advanced manufacturing, teaching as a profession, network security, and more.
The Board unanimously approved the CTE Plan.
Chief Communications Officer Brent Anderson was next to the podium, and he presented to Coastal Carolina Community College Board of Trustee Appointment for the Board’s approval. Bundage Guy, who currently serves on the Board of Trustees, indicated that he would like to continue his service. The Board unanimously approved his reappointment.
Dr. Brendan Gartner, OCS Chief of Operations, then presented to the Board a series of land easement requests from Piedmont Natural Gas and Waffle House. Temporary construction easements at Southwest High and Meadow View Elementary, and a temporary access easement at Southwest High, would be granted to Piedmont Natural Gas for the removal of old equipment. An easement at Swansboro Elementary for a sanitary sewer would be granted to Waffle House. None of this work would interfere with school functions. The Board unanimously approved the easements.
Dr. Gartner also presented to the Board a request for the approval of a contractor for the planned renovation project at Trexler Middle School. Four contractors submitted bids for the project, and Waters Contracting Company was the lowest responsive, responsible bidder.
The bid came in at $2,394,800, and it would cover a renovation consisting of seven classrooms, restroom facilities, mechanical upgrades, door upgrades, window upgrades, and lighting and electrical upgrades.
The Board unanimously approved Waters Contracting for the project.
Next, Dr. Gartner asked the Board to approve a contractor for the new Northeast Elementary School construction project.
Four contractors submitted bids for this project, and Quadrant Construction was the lowest responsive, responsible bidder. Their bid came in at $37,645,000.
The Board unanimously approved Quadrant for the project, and also approved a land transfer and other necessary business to be conducted with the Onslow County Board of Commissioners to get the school construction project started.
Finally, Dr. Gartner presented an update on the potential redistricting of Dixon and Southwest high schools. He shared two draft maps for the potential new district lines, saying each would move about 200 students from Dixon High to Southwest High.
The Board unanimously approved staff to move forward with collecting public feedback. Public meetings on the redistricting process will be held on May 11 and May 17 at 6 p.m. in the Dixon High School auditorium. Feedback can also be sent to email@example.com.