Wilkes County Schools

Skip to main content
Mobile Menu
Public Notice
2020-21 Board Meeting Minutes » March 1, 2021

March 1, 2021

March 1, 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, March 1, 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 attending were Superintendent Mr. D. Mark Byrd, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Westley Wood, Chief Academic Officer Dr. Donna Cotton, Chief Finance Officer Mr. Seth Prevette, Director of Maintenance Mr. Bergie Speaks, Director of Pre-K and Elementary Education Mrs. Callie Grubb, Director of Exceptional Children Mrs. Jennifer Blankenship, Director of Student Services Mrs. April Marr, Director of Middle School, Federal Programs, Interim County Athletic Director, Cultural Arts Dr. Joe Bullis, AIG Coordinator Mrs. Angie Lamb, Public Information Officer Mrs. Morgan Mathis, and Executive Administrative Assistant Mrs. Carolyn Triplett.
Chairman Mr. Rudy Holbrook recognized Board Member, Mr. Hardin Kennedy, to lead the Invocation.
Chairman Mr. Rudy Holbrook called the meeting to order.
On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mr. Walker and duly carried, the agenda was approved as presented.
Chairman Mr. Randall “Rudy” Holbrook recognized Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd for the Superintendent’s Welcome and Pledge of Allegiance. Mr. Byrd commented that this morning when he turned his calendar to the month of March, he could not help but think that we are almost two weeks away from the one-year anniversary of schools being closed due to COVID-19. If you remember, we went home from school on Friday, March 13, 2020 and he had even emailed Board Members stating that we were getting questions but that we did plan to be in school the following week. All of that changed on the afternoon of Saturday, March 14, 2020, when Governor Cooper announced the closing of schools. He shared this to remind us all that our school system has been dealing with the challenges of COVID for almost one full year and with your support, he is very proud of how things have been handled. It has not been perfect, and we have not gotten everything right, but we can say we have done the best that we could.
Mr. Byrd also mentioned that last week he attended the funeral of one of our employees, Mrs. Virginia Bell. Mrs. Bell was a bus driver at Mulberry Elementary School and had worked for our system since the early 1970s. He took a minute to say to her family that we appreciate Mrs. Bell’s service to our students and the entire Mulberry community, and that along with the Mulberry Elementary School family, they would be in our thoughts in the coming weeks. Even during a very difficult time, Mr. Byrd could tell the family was proud of Mrs. Bell’s commitment to students in their community, and he knows that many people’s lives were positively impacted by her work.
In closing, he wanted to share some words from a teacher over the weekend that he feels our entire system and our entire county should be proud of, and it meant the world to him. As you know, staff members with Wilkes County Schools were offered the opportunity to receive their first round of COVID vaccine shots last week. Dr. Wood did a lot to communicate this information to our employees, and he will share more information in a few minutes. Mrs. April Marr worked at a vaccine clinic every single hour they were held and worked many hours ahead of time to schedule workers and volunteers for these clinics. While Mr. Byrd was pleased with what our system had been able to offer, it was not until he received an email from a husband and wife over the weekend that made him realize how proud we should all be. These two teachers from our system shared the following through an email:  "I just wanted to thank you for the organization of the Covid-19 vaccinations this week. My husband and I are so thankful as other counties are not provided this same service from their local central services. Many have expressed their wonder and even envy of these services. I also want to give a shout-out to the wonderful nurses, counselors, EMS, etc. that worked tirelessly through the pouring rain to give those vaccines. Moreover, with smiles on their faces...albeit under a mask! Again, thank you from my husband and me and from many other educators in Wilkes County Schools for helping us feel safe to do the jobs we love."
Mr. Byrd stated, “I have said many times before that I want the best of everything for the students and staff of Wilkes County, and because of the efforts of our health department, our nurses, the central services staff members I have mentioned and numerous people at our schools, our people felt that they received this last week! I hope that you too take tremendous pride in what we were able to offer our employees last week”!

Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to announce the NCSPRA Blue Ribbon Awards. On February 5, 2021, the North Carolina School Public Relations Association (NCSPRA) held its annual Blue Ribbon Awards celebration. During the virtual event, State Superintendent, Catherine Truitt, paid tribute to award winners and thanked all North Carolina school districts for their efforts to effectively communicate during difficult times. NCSPRA honored 41 districts with Blue Ribbon Awards for outstanding communications in eight categories.
The Georgia School Public Relations Association judged NCSPRA’s 2020 Blue Ribbon entries. The judges praised the work of North Carolina’s school communicators as “comprehensive, professional, impressive, and engaging.” Ken Derksen, NCSPRA President and Communications & Public Relations Officer for Wayne County Public Schools, said the work of the award winners exemplifies the high standards and qualities members demonstrate in their daily school communications programs. “Blue Ribbon Awards are among the highest and most prestigious honors that a member of our organization can attain. I congratulate all of this year’s winners for achieving statewide recognition as a Blue Ribbon Award winner. These awards highlight the superior work being accomplished in the area of school communications and all that our members are doing to support and promote public schools across North Carolina,” Derksen said.
Public Information Officer, Mrs. Morgan Mathis was awarded seven Blue Ribbon Awards on behalf of Wilkes County Schools for outstanding and effective communication in the categories of Photography, Special Event & Programs, Publications, Digital Media Engagement, and Electronic Media. Congratulations, Mrs. Morgan Mathis, on this achievement!

Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to recognize the Wilkes County Hall of Fame Governing Board (WCHOF) who recently announced that $19,905.22 in grant monies are to be spent in the areas of art, physical education, and athletics in the Wilkes County Schools for the 2020-21 school year. This brought the total amount of funding given to Wilkes County Schools to $110,076.09 since 2015.
Each year, the WCHOF hosts an annual gala to honor and recognize the newest class of inductees into the Hall of Fame. Proceeds from sponsorship are used to support the arts and athletic programs in Wilkes County Schools. Each year, they give roughly $15,000 to Wilkes County Schools to be spent in the areas of art, physical education, and athletics, and that number has increased over the last three years. Employees are invited to apply from October through December. This year, the WCHOF board increased its grant budget in order to address the needs of teachers and staff that may be even greater due to COVID-19.
The Seventh Annual WCHOF will be held virtually on May 20, 2021, and they welcome all to attend! We would like to recognize representatives from the Wilkes County Hall of Fame Board and thank them for their continued support of Wilkes County Schools.

Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Westley Wood, to provide board members with a short update on Covid-19, regarding the employee vaccination clinic that took place on February 24, 2021-February 26, 2021. On February 5, 2021, all employees received an email regarding the first steps in preparing for employee Covid-19 vaccinations. Dr. Wood provided materials regarding the vaccine prior to the clinics. Wilkes County Schools and the Wilkes County Health Department were excited to announce that we were able to move forward with employee vaccinations for those employees who submitted vaccination registration paperwork. The schedule of vaccination sites, locations, and times were provided to all staff. Everything has gone extremely well, and we are thankful for the support of the Wilkes County Health Department and their staff for their help with these clinics.

Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Donna Cotton, presented Focus on the Curriculum. The North Carolina State Board of Education approved new Social Studies standards for grades K-12. Signed into law in July 2019, House Bill 924 specified several changes for K-12 Social Studies. The legislation changed to two required courses for high school graduation, and they are Founding Principles of the United States of America and North Carolina: Civic Literacy, Economics, and Personal Finance. On February 4, 2021, the North Carolina State Board of Education approved the new content standards for Social Studies, K-12. The standards define what students are expected to know, understand, and be able to do by the end of each grade or course. The new social studies standards will be taught beginning with the 2021-2022 school year. So, beginning with freshmen during the 2021-2022 school year and moving forward, students will take the following:  World History, American History, Founding Principles of the United States of America, and North Carolina: Civil Literacy, and Economics, and Personal Finance. NCDPI will provide unpacking documents and crosswalks to help teachers understand what the changes are and where to find the changes in the standards. Wilkes County Schools will provide in-house training for the three high school courses that had the most comprehensive changes.

Dr. Donna Cotton also updated the Board on the Wilkes County Virtual Academy Exploration. The committee consists of 43 students, parents, teachers, and administrators. A survey was conducted for all Wilkes County parents to determine interest in a Wilkes County Schools Virtual Academy. Dr. Cotton provided the following information obtained from the survey so far:
  1. There will be an application process to enroll in the WCS VA. The students’ 2020-2021 teacher will provide the WCS VA with an assessment of the student’s strengths and successful participation in remote learning.
  2. WCS will supply WCS VA students with a device for online learning. Students must have consistent, reliable internet and must be proficient in the use of the device. The WCS VA will not send paper packets of assignments home.
  3. There will be a required in-person orientation for students, and there may be required in-person meetings during the school year for team-building activities.
  4. There will be a required parent orientation and training to prepare parents in coaching their student to be successful in a virtual academy.
  5. Assigned WCS VA teachers may not be from a student’s WCS home district school.
  6. There will be tests, and some testing may be required to take place within a school building. Parents may be responsible for transporting their children to the testing location.
  7. Students and parents will sign an agreement for participation in the WCS VA for the entirety of the school year. A student can, however, lose the privilege of attending the WCS VA if there is a violation of Wilkes County Schools’ policies and procedures. These policies and procedures include, but are not limited to the following:
    • Attendance – Students are expected to attend every day. Students who do not attend regularly may be transferred to their WCS home district school.
    • Participation – Classes could be synchronous (live through Zoom) or asynchronous (assignments posted for students to work on their own) or a combination of both. Synchronous lessons may not be streamed into in-person classrooms. Students are expected to participate in all lessons and must have the camera on during live (synchronous) lessons. Students who refuse to participate in this manner may be transferred to their WCS home district school.
    • Behavior – Online misbehavior will not be tolerated and will result in dismissal from the WCS VA.
No final decision has been made yet on a virtual academy for Wilkes County Schools.

Chairman Mr. Rudy Holbrook asked if anyone had signed up for Public Comments. No one had signed up.
On a motion by Mrs. Caudill, seconded by Mrs. Huffman and duly carried, the minutes for February 1, 2021 were approved as presented.
On a motion by Mr. Kennedy, seconded by Mr. Walker and duly carried, the Personnel Report was approved as presented.


Melony Adams – Media Specialist – North Wilkes High School

Retirement effective – May 1, 2021 with thirty-two years and three months of service

Sharon Bryant – Teacher Assistant – Mountain View Elementary School

Retirement effective – June 1, 2021 with twenty-seven years and six months of service

Jennifer Cardwell – Teacher – Wilkesboro Elementary School

Retirement effective – June 1, 2021 with thirty years and three months of service

Melinda Lyall – Teacher – Wilkes Central High School

Retirement effective – June 1, 2021 with twenty-eight years and two months of service

Opal McDaniel – Custodian – North Wilkes High School

Retirement effective – April 1, 2021 with five years and four months of service

Janet St. John – Media Specialist – Wilkesboro Elementary School

Retirement effective – June 1, 2021 with thirty years and one month of service

Andrew Teague – Teacher – West Wilkes High School

Retirement effective – June 1, 2021 with thirty-one years and two months of service

Angela Teague – Counselor – West Wilkes High School

Retirement effective – June 1, 2021 with twenty-five years and two months of service

George Visnic – Teacher – West Wilkes High School

Retirement effective – June 1, 2021 with thirty-five years and six months of service

Chairman Mr. Holbrook had the following announcements:
  • March 3, 2021 – Early Dismissal (Elementary 12:30 PM; Middle/High 1:00 PM)
  • March 19, 2021 – Third Grading Period Ends/Remote Student Learning Day/Required Teacher Workday
  • March 23, 2021 – Fourth Grading Period Begins
Chairman Mr. Holbrook announced the next meeting to be April 12, 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 Mr. Kennedy, seconded by Mrs. Huffman and duly carried, there being no further business, the Board adjourned at 6:09 PM.
PDF/Printer-Friendly Version: