News from the Board -- September 29, 2020

Posted by Jessica Coston on 10/2/2020 12:00:00 PM


On Tuesday, September 29, the Onslow County Board of Education held a special meeting at the Eastern North Carolina Regional Skills Center. Agenda items included a closed session for personnel, a Return to Learn update, the presentation of the resiliency retention reward, next steps for the ENCRSC, and a word on the Onslow County Public Bike Trail.  

The meeting began with a 45-minute closed session, during which the Board performed the performance review of Superintendent Dr. Barry Collins. Following the session, Chair Pam Thomas shared that the Board is happy with the work that Dr. Collins and his staff are doing and that they are proud to have him as superintendent.  

Next on the agenda was an update on the district’s Return to Learn plan from Deputy Superintendent Dr. Beth Folger. Dr. Folger shared the plans for implementing Plan A, explaining what will change from Plan B when students return full time. The biggest difference between Plans A and B, she said, is a shift from mandatory, moderate social distancing in Plan B to minimal social distancing, to the greatest extent possible, in Plan A. She also shared that the shift to Plan A would keep intact options for families who feel uncomfortable sending their child back to fuller classrooms. On October 16, the current “double remote” option that some families have been using will expire, and those families, as well as those that have been sending their children for part time in-person through Cohort A or B, will have the opportunity to transfer their students to Onslow Virtual School. Plans to allow OVS students to transition back to their home schools are under development.  

Following Dr. Folger’s presentation, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Hollamon addressed the Board to present a proposed Resiliency Retention Reward. This measure would allow for a one-time $350 bonus for certified and non-certified permanent salaried staff and hourly paid bus drivers, bus monitors, and school nutrition employees with a daily work assignment who are employed in pay status as of October 1, 2020. Employees who work on an intermittent or substitute basis are ineligible. This payment, which would be made on October 30, would work to retain staff and recognize the valuable contributions from all aspects of our team to support our students which have been made under extremely challenging conditions. The Board unanimously approved.  

Next, Chief Operations Officer Steve Myers took to the microphone to share with the Board and audience some of the plans in store for the unfinished parts of the ENCRSC. The upstairs portion of the building consists of 13,500 sq ft of unfinished space that Myers said could serve the district well as it searches for additional office space and professional development venues. The space, he said, could be used to provide the newly formed Onslow Virtual School with additional office space for staff, testing spaces, PD rooms, additional space for CTE, and more. The upfitting of the space would cost around $1.1 million, which was already accounted for in the original ENCRSC project. The project, Myers said, would be completed in a way that would allow for simple changes and rearrangements if the district’s needs for the space should change. Once started, the project would take 6-8 months tom complete.  

Last on the agenda was a brief presentation from Assistant County Manager Ben Warren on the upcoming Onslow County public bike trail. Warren said that the trail would take advantage of areas of the county not suitable for development, namely wetlands, including some of the land behind the ENCRSC, which is owned by the Board of Education. The trail would be built in phases and would become a valuable asset for the community by providing opportunities for leisure activities and competitive races in both mountain biking and cross country running. Board Chair Pam Thomas said she and the Board look forward to working with the county to provide part of the space for the coming trail.