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2020-21 Board Meeting Minutes » January 11, 2021

January 11, 2021

January 11, 2021
The Board of Education of the Wilkes County Administrative Unit conducted a regular meeting in the Stone Center for the Performing Arts on Monday, January 11, 2021 at 5:30 PM at 613 Cherry Street, North Wilkesboro, North Carolina 28659. COVID-19 guidelines were enforced.
Present for the meeting were Chairman Mr. Randall “Rudy” Holbrook, Vice-Chairman Mrs. Sharron Huffman, Board Members Mr. Kirk Walker, Mrs. Joan Caudill, and Mr. Hardin Kennedy, III. Also present were Superintendent Mr. D. Mark Byrd, Chief Technology Officer Mrs. Julie Triplett, Chief Finance Officer Mr. Seth Prevette, Chief Academic Officer Dr. Donna Cotton, Associate Superintendent Dr. Westley Wood, Director of Pre-K and Elementary Education Mrs. Callie Grubb, Director of Student Services Mrs. April Marr, Director of Child Nutrition Mr. Marty Johnson, Director of Maintenance Mr. Bergie Speaks, Director of CTE/Career and College Promise Mr. Wayne Shepherd, Director of Middle School, Federal Programs, Interim County Athletic Director, Cultural Arts Dr. Joe Bullis, AIG Coordinator Mrs. Angie Lamb, Director of Exceptional Children Mrs. Jennifer Blankenship, Director of Testing and Accountability Mr. Jeffrey Johnson, Public Information Officer Mrs. Morgan Mathis, and Executive Administrative Assistant Mrs. Carolyn Triplett. Special guests were Wilkes County Health Department Director Mrs. Rachel Willard, Community Health Services Director Mrs. Lindsey Roberts, President of the Retired Teacher Association of Wilkes County Schools Mrs. Lisa Pruitt, NCAE Representative for Wilkes County Schools Mrs. Vickie Church, and North Wilkes Middle School Principal Mrs. Heather Freeman.
Chairman Mr. Rudy Holbrook recognized Board Member Mrs. Joan Caudill to lead the Invocation.
Chairman Mr. Rudy Holbrook called the meeting to order.
Chairman Mr. Randall “Rudy” Holbrook asked Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd if the agenda needed to be amended. On a motion by Mr. Walker, seconded by Mrs. Huffman and duly carried, the agenda was amended and approved to change XI. - Item E to Discussion/Report Item. The 2021-2022 Wilkes County School Calendar (draft) will become XII. -  Item B.
Chairman Mr. Randall “Rudy” Holbrook recognized Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd for the Superintendent’s Welcome and Pledge of Allegiance. Mr. Byrd wished everyone a “Happy New Year” and Mr. Byrd hopes that everyone’s 2021 is off to a great start, and if it is not, he hopes it will be shortly. Mr. Byrd’s hope for each of you is that 2021 is a year of safety, peace, and happiness.  Mr. Byrd shared, “In Wilkes County Schools, we use words like culture, trust, teamwork, and service on a daily basis. We talk about supporting one another when we do great things, as well as when we may make mistakes. We talk about recruiting the best employees and making efforts to keep them with our system for as long as possible. We talk about treating our employees better than they could be treated anywhere else and letting them know they are appreciated. We talk about the most important thing, which is doing what is best for our students, providing them the best of everything possible, making sure they are cared for, and making sure they get the best educational opportunity possible. Fortunately, we do more than talk about these things but strive to make sure they happen daily, as they are the Core Values of our entire school system."
"However, do we ever stop to look at where these expectations come from? I have always heard it said that expectations come from the top, and in Wilkes County Schools, I find that to be true. We work in a culture where the five people who serve on our board trust and empower us to do our jobs and do what is best on a daily basis. They support us when things go well, as well as when we mess up. They want us to make sure that our employees know they are valued, treated well, and appreciated. We talk about service and in a few minutes we will hear how some were on this board many years ago, and others have chosen to serve during one of the most difficult times any school system has faced. However, more than anything else, they want what is best for our students, they want them to have the best of everything possible, they want them to know they are cared for, and they expect these students to have the best educational opportunity possible. Our board members do not ever ask for credit, they simply ask us to give our best. I assure you that this type of culture is not evident everywhere in our state, and if you do not believe me, pick up a newspaper or watch the news."
"Earlier, I used the word teamwork, and I think that word best describes the relationship between our board and the school system. I think this is a relationship that many others envy. So yes, these beliefs and expectations do start at the top, and I am proud to say that they are evident throughout all of Wilkes County Schools because they matter to those who are leading us. With January being School Board Member Appreciation Month, I would like to tell Mr. Rudy Holbrook, Mrs. Sharron Huffman, Mr. Kirk Walker, Mrs. Joan Caudill, and Mr. Hardin Kennedy that I appreciate their service to our school system, and their support as well. Thank you and I look forward to working with our board to make 2021 a great year for the students and staff of Wilkes County Schools!”

Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to introduce our 2020-2021 Beginning Teacher of the Year. The North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT) recently announced the finalists for the 2020 Prudential NC Beginning Teacher of the Year Award. Teachers from across North Carolina have been selected as finalists in honor of their dedication, innovation, and ability to inspire students to achieve. "We appreciate the enthusiastic response from all over the state for the Beginning Teacher of the Year Award," said NCCAT Executive Director M. Brock Womble. "These finalists provide a snapshot of the lasting impact great teachers have on our students from the first to the last day they step into a North Carolina public school. We are excited about this opportunity to honor teachers for the important work they do in our state."
Congratulations to Wilkes County Schools 2020-2021 Beginning Teacher of the Year, Ms. Alexandra Allen, who was chosen as a finalist for the 2020 Prudential NC Beginning Teacher of the Year Award! All finalists receive travel expenses to participate in NCCAT professional development and leadership development. The award will be presented on April 15, 2021, at the NCCAT Cullowhee Campus.

Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to announce the Middle School Debt Payment update. In 2000, Wilkes County Schools worked with architects Frank Williams and Randy Baker on designing, bidding, and constructing four new Middle Schools at the direction of Dr. Joe Johnson, who was the superintendent, along with the board members at that time, Betsy Welborn (Chairman), Dr. Ila Baugham (Vice-Chairman), Karen Reeves, Rudy Holbrook, and Kirk Walker. Students walked through the halls for the first time in 2002. The total budget for the middle schools was approximately $40,000,000.00. After twenty years, we are happy to announce the middle school debt is paid off as of December 2020. This will allow the school system to utilize our monthly payment of approximately $54,600.00 for other things such as renovations, roofs, parking lots, and other new construction.

Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd provided board members with a short update from the Wilkes County Health Department. Present to report was Mrs. Rachel Willard, Wilkes County Health Director, and Mrs. Lindsey Roberts, Community Health Services Director. The Wilkes County Schools have had 442 confirmed COVID-19 cases since September 8th. Mrs. Willard reported that she believes that the Wilkes County School system is doing all the steps necessary to keep students and staff safe. Mrs. Willard also stated that the relationship between the health department and the Wilkes County School System was a blessing. “School involvement” was identified as 41% of the 442 cases, reported Mrs. Roberts; this refers to a person being at school or in a school function within two days of the onset of COVID-19 symptoms or within two days prior to testing positive if asymptomatic. Mrs. Roberts also stated that 31% were elementary students, 21% were middle school students, and 45% were high school students. 10% were students engaged in remote-only learning. 5% involved school athletics. District numbers were broken down as follows:  Central – 146, North – 100, West – 94, East – 71, and Early College – 12. At this time, Mrs. Willard could not give a specific date on which the vaccinations would be arriving. Mrs. Willard will keep the Board updated as situations can change daily.

Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Mr. Jeffrey Johnson, Director of Testing and Accountability, and Mrs. Callie Grubb, Director of Pre-K and Elementary Education. They presented information on the Evaluation of Student Progress. Our focus on August 17 was to do our best at determining where our students were in their educational journey and to evaluate what gaps may need to be filled. Wilkes County Schools have a variety of programs and methods that allow teachers to assess a student’s educational needs. Mr. Johnson reported the Fall and Spring Testing dates and reported that we are currently in our window for testing the high schools' EOCs.
The Fall Testing dates are January 11 through January 14, 2021.
  • Biology (11th Graders)
  • English 2 (10th Graders)
  • Math 1 (9th Graders)
  • Math 3 (12 Graders)
  • Career Technical Education (Grades 9-12)
The Spring Testing dates are February 22 through April 23, 2021.
  • ACCESS for English Language Learners (K-12) – February 23, 2021 and March 9, 2021
  • ACT (Paper and Pencil without Writing) – HS only
  • Spring EOGs – May 13, 2021 through May 26, 2021 (last 10 days of the year)
  • Grades 3-8 End of Grade Reading and Math
  • Grade 5 & 8 Science
  • Grade 8 End of Course Math 1
  • Spring EOC – May 20, 2021 through May 26, 2021 (last 5 days of the year)
  • Biology (11th Graders)
  • English 2 (10th Graders)
  • Math 1 (9th Graders)
  • Math 3 (12th Graders)
  • Career Technical Education (Grades 9-12)
NC Check-Ins are interim assessments developed by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) that are aligned to North Carolina grade-level content standards (for reading and mathematics) and North Carolina Essential Standards (for science). The following NC Check-Ins are available:  Grades 3–8 Reading (measures all assessable grade-level content standards and increases in text complexity), Grades 3–8 Mathematics (measures selected subsets of grade-level content standards), Grades 5 and 8 Science (measures Physical Science, Earth Science, and Life Science), and NC Math 1 (measures selected subsets of course-level content standards). The main purpose of NC Check-Ins is to provide students, teachers, and parents with immediate in-depth action data and a reliable estimate of students’ current performance on selected subsets of content standards. Both the end-of-grade (EOG) and end-of-course (EOC) tests share a common question bank with the NC Check-Ins, which then exposes NC Check-In students to similar question types and rigor found on the EOGs and EOCs. The NCDPI does not have valid evidence to support using results from NC Check-Ins as a predictor of student performance on the EOG or EOC summative tests. Even though there is evidence of a significant correlation between scores from NC Check-Ins with the EOGs and EOCs, this correlation evidence by itself does not signify prediction. The overall value of NC Check-Ins is in the use of data for formative purposes throughout the year to help students and teachers adjust ongoing teaching and learning to improve students’ achievement of intended instructional outcomes.
Elementary and Middle School Windows of Assessment
  • Check-In #1 – October 1 - November 20
  • Check-In #2 – January 4 - February 26
  • Check-In #3 – March 1 - April 30
High School Windows of Assessment
  • Check-In #1 – Semester 1 – September 1 - October 30
  • Check-In #2 – Semester 1 – November 2 - December 23
  • Check-In #1 – Semester 2 – February 3 - March 31
  • Check-In #2 – Semester 2 – April - May 31
  • Check-In #1 – Year Long – November 2 - December 23
  • Check-In #2 – Year Long – April 1 - May 31
Our scores were lower than the previous year’s results as is the trend across the state.

Mrs. Callie Grubb, Director of Pre-K and Elementary Education, reported on the Renaissance Star Assessments and testing levels, and they are listed below:
  • Available at all levels (English and Spanish)
    • Elementary
    • Middle
    • High
  • Serves as formative assessments for grades K-12
  •  Satisfies Read to Achieve Requirements for grades K-3
  • Provides data points for EVAAS Teacher Effectiveness in grades K-2
  • Star Early Literacy (grades K-1)
  • Star Reading
  • Star Math
  • Star Curriculum-Based Measures
    • Reading (Letter Naming, Letter Sounds, Phoneme Segmentation, Nonsense Words, Oral Reading)
    • Math (Number Recognition, Quantity Comparison, Addition/Subtraction, Multiplication)
The Elementary Focus
  • Benchmarks
    • September
    • January
    • May
  • Monthly Progress Monitoring
Mrs. Grubb reported that this is the state proficiency levels set for our benchmarks. Essentially, to be on grade level, first and second grade students need to be in the 45th percentile at EOY, and third grade students need to have a scale score of 537 to be considered proficient.

Chairman Mr. Rudy Holbrook asked if anyone had signed up for Public Comments. No one had signed up.
On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the minutes for December 7 and December 14, 2020 were approved as presented.
On a motion by Mr. Walker, seconded by Mrs. Huffman and duly carried, the Personnel Report was approved as presented.

Resignation(s) and/or Retirement(s)

Brenda Davis – Teacher – Millers Creek Elementary School

Retirement effective – February 1, 2021 with 31 years and 2 months of service

Arnita Horton – Media Assistant – Wilkes Central High School

Retirement effective – March 1, 2021 with 34 years and 8 months of service

Stephanie Osborne – Teacher Assistant – North Wilkesboro Elementary School

Retirement effective – March 1, 2021 with 23 years and 1 month of service

On a motion by Mr. Walker, seconded by Mrs. Huffman and duly carried, the revisions to Board Policy 3460 – Graduation Requirements was approved as presented. The revisions include technical changes to align the language of Policy 3460 with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s Graduation Requirements, changes to the Social Studies requirement, and edits to formatting.

On a motion by Mr. Walker, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the Temporary Easement at Wilkes Central High School was approved as presented. Landowners, Mr. & Mrs. William and Dorothy Phillips, have requested a temporary easement for the removal of trees they feel are in danger of falling on their home. They are prepared to have the trees cut at their expense and sign a waiver of liability. These trees have no value to the school system. The easement will expire after the tree removal is complete.

On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mr. Hardin and duly carried, the Early Release days for the third grading period were approved as presented and are provided below. This allows teachers additional time for planning. On early release days, our elementary schools dismiss at 12:30, while middle and high schools dismiss at 1:00.
Thursday, February 4, 2021
Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Chief Finance Officer, Mr. Seth Prevette, introduced Mr. Travis Hardee to present the Audit Report for 2019-2020. An unmodified opinion (the best you can get) was issued on the Basic Financial Statements. An unmodified opinion was also issued on Major Programs audited. Those were Title 1, State Public School Fund, and NC Pre-K. There were no material weaknesses, significant deficiencies, or other recommendations noted. There were no significant difficulties or disagreements with management noted per Mr. Hardee.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Westley Wood presented for discussion the 2021-2022 Wilkes County School Calendar Draft. The Calendar Committee met on Monday, November 30, 2020 and developed the proposed calendar for the 2021-22 school year. This will be a 164-day academic calendar that meets statutory requirements. North Carolina general statute allows the start of school to be no earlier than the Monday closest to August 26, 2021. This will be presented at the February Board Meeting for final approval.

Chairman Mr. Holbrook had the following announcements:
  • January 14, 2021 – Second Grading Period Ends
  • January 15, 2021 – Required Workday
  • January 18, 2021 – Martin Luther King Holiday
  • January 19, 2021 – Third Grading Period Begins
Chairman Mr. Holbrook announced the next meeting to be February 1, 2021. The meeting will be held in the Stone Center for the Performing Arts located at 613 Cherry Street, North Wilkesboro, North Carolina beginning at 5:30 PM.

On a motion by Mrs. Caudill, seconded by Mrs. Huffman and duly carried, there being no further business, the Board adjourned at 6:35 PM.
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