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2021-22 Board Meeting Minutes » September 13, 2021

September 13, 2021

Summary of Board Minutes for September 13, 2021
The Board of Education of the Wilkes County Administrative Unit conducted a regular meeting in the Arnold and Becky Lakey Boardroom on Monday, September 13, 2021 at 5:30 PM at 613 Cherry Street, North Wilkesboro, North Carolina 28659.
Present for the meeting were Chairman Mr. Randall "Rudy" Holbrook, Vice-Chairman Mrs. Sharron Huffman, Board Members Mr. Hardin Kennedy III, Mr. Kirk Walker, and Mrs. Joan Caudill. Also attending were Superintendent Mr. D. Mark Byrd, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Westley Wood, Chief Academic Officer Dr. Donna Cotton, Chief Technology Officer Mrs. Julie Triplett, Chief Finance Officer Mr. Seth Prevette, Director of Maintenance Mr. Bergie Speaks, Director of Pre-K and Elementary Education Mrs. Callie Grubb, Director of Student Services Mrs. April Marr, Executive Director of Federal Programs/Career & Technical Education Dr. Joe Bullis, Director of Transportation Mr. Eric Barker, Director of Child Nutrition Mr. Marty Johnson, Director of Exceptional Children Mrs. Jennifer Blankenship, Director of Secondary Education/Athletics/and School Safety Mr. David Johnson, Director of Testing & Accountability/Cultural Arts Mr. Jeffery Johnson, Public Information Officer Mrs. Morgan Mathis, and Executive Administrative Assistant Mrs. Carolyn Triplett. Special Guests included Wilkes County Law Enforcement.
Chairman Mr. Rudy Holbrook called the meeting to order. 
Chairman Mr. Randall "Rudy" Holbrook asked Superintendent Mr. D. Mark Byrd if the agenda needed to be amended. Mr. Byrd stated that a Temporary Easement for North Wilkes High School needed to be added to the agenda. On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the agenda was amended and approved to include in Item IX. Letter "F" Temporary Easement for North Wilkes High School. This item will be voted on in the Action Item Section.
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 stated, "I know we are facing a very challenging time right now in our world, but before we move forward, I think it is important to remember where we were 20 years ago following the events of September 11, 2001. Our thoughts should be with those who lost family members during that attack as I cannot imagine what they have dealt with since that time. We should always learn from the past, and I wish our entire country would remember how our nation came together after the 9/11 attacks and how we supported those around us. If our country could unite the way we did after 9/11, I believe we could find ways to put this pandemic behind us and help our world get back to what we knew before."
"I also think it is important that we stop and realize that tomorrow marks 18 months since the day Governor Cooper closed schools in NC in March of 2020. I share this simply as a reminder of how different education has been for everyone involved during this time, whether students, parents, teachers, or board members. Let's all have patience with each other as we navigate these different times and continue to do what is best for our students!"
"Along those lines, in just a few minutes, Mr. Jeffrey Johnson will be reviewing test data from 2020-2021, and I would like to share a few of the accomplishments of our students and staff from last year. We have been cautioned from the state level to be careful in comparing these results, as we all know that other areas of our state were impacted much differently than we were last year. We also know of areas of our state who are not as fortunate as we are. Just this week, I heard of a community in our state where the only internet access in the community is at the school and not at homes that surround it. So, once again, I want this data to be a reminder of how fortunate we are to live where we do and to celebrate the work of our staff and students during a worldwide pandemic."
"In most years, Wilkes County Schools ranks in the top 50 out of 115 districts in NC on overall proficiency on end-of-course and end-of-grade tests. While we all know that proficiency is not the best indicator of a school's success, and it is impacted by multiple factors outside of the school, many do still use it to compare schools and districts. As I said, we usually rank around #50, but based on 2020-2021 results, our overall composite, which means the percentage of students who were proficient on end-of-course and end-of-grade tests, ranked 18th out of 115 districts in our state. Again, we should not compare or be critical of other districts, but to me, that should be a tremendous source of pride for our schools and our community, and speaks volumes to the extra efforts of our teachers and students during a very challenging time! Our students did not suffer as much academic loss as many simply because of the efforts of our people! I personally think that every staff member in our system deserves a pat on the back for what they accomplished last school year. I also know that most of them have already moved on to the great things they plan to accomplish in 2021-2022 as well."
"Along those lines, in a challenging year that saw our statewide graduation rate decline, Wilkes County Schools graduation rate increased by 1.6% from 87.1% to 88.7%. In terms of students, that means 10 more students earned a high school diploma than they did the year before (or 2 students per high school). This, too, should be a great source of excitement for our county, and another example of the great things that our people are accomplishing for our students."
"Our people are doing great things for our students, and they deserve to be acknowledged for the outstanding things they do on a daily basis. Great things are going on in our schools and people need to be aware of it! To wrap up, this data should never be used to be critical of others, but to show teachers, bus drivers, custodians, and child nutrition workers that their extra efforts during a pandemic made a difference in the lives of students in Wilkes County last year!”

Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to announce the Child Nutrition 2020-2021 Employee of the Year Awards. Wilkes County Schools Child Nutrition Department named a Manager, Assistant Manager, and Employee of the Year for the 2020-2021 school year. These three individuals went above and beyond to support students of Wilkes County Schools during pandemic feeding.
Ms. Lesa Call, cafeteria manager at Central Wilkes Middle School, was named the Manager of the Year for 2020-2021. She supported multiple buildings during the absences of staff members associated with COVID-19. Ms. Call received phone calls late in the day and was asked to report to a different location the next morning to serve our students. Ms. Call always had a positive attitude and traveled to ensure students received healthy and nutritious meals during difficult times.
Ms. Janice Griffin, Assistant Manager at Central Wilkes Middle Schools, was named the Assistant Manager of the Year for the 2020-2021 school year. Ms. Griffin also supported the students by leading the kitchen at Central Wilkes Middle school during the extended support of the cafeteria manager to other buildings due to COVID-19. Ms. Griffin often led the kitchen while being short-staffed and always ensured students received healthy and nutritious meals.
Ms. Lisa Hall, Child Nutrition Assistant at West Wilkes Middle School, was named the Employee of the Year for the 2020-2021 school year. Ms. Hall traveled with Lesa Call for extended periods supporting students during the pandemic. Ms. Hall always greeted students in the other buildings with a smile and stayed positive during the difficult times.

Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to acknowledge The Wilkes Education Foundation for awarding forty-nine Mini-Grant projects for the 2021-2022 school year. The total funds awarded were $38,881.46. The grants of up to $1,000 each are designed to provide funds to implement creative and innovative instructional programs in the classrooms for which federal, state, or local funds are not available. Since the 1985-1986 school year, the Wilkes Education Foundation has funded 906 mini-grants projects totaling $542,055.50. We congratulate these teachers and look forward to seeing these funds used in the classrooms.
2021-2022 Mini-Grant Winners
Jamie K. Williams C.B. Eller Elementary
Jessica Simmons C.B. Eller Elementary
Kathryn Willis C.B. Eller Elementary
Laura Billings C.C. Wright Elementary
Alisha Ellis C.C. Wright Elementary
Fran York Central Wilkes Middle
Kelly Holleman Central Wilkes Middle
Lisa Bryant Central Wilkes Middle
Jennifer Bauguss Central Wilkes Middle
Megan Miller Central Wilkes Middle
Sandra Burchette East Wilkes Middle
Abby King East Wilkes Middle
Laken Atkinson East Wilkes Middle
Rita Ray East Wilkes Middle
Heather Melton Millers Creek Elementary
Tina Shephard Millers Creek Elementary
Jennifer Cockrell Millers Creek Elementary
Stephanie Perkins Millers Creek Elementary
Carol Huffman Millers Creek Elementary
Marianna Bowden Millers Creek Elementary
Monica Smith Moravian Falls Elementary
Anna Arroyo Moravian Falls Elementary
Christine Waller Moravian Falls Elementary
Tara Hinkle Moravian Falls Elementary
Kim J. Holleman Mount Pleasant Elementary
Heather Williams Mount Pleasant Elementary
Lisa West Mount Pleasant Elementary
Ashley Walker Mountain View Elementary
Michael Johnson North Wilkes High School
Alecia Prevette Roaring River Elementary
Renee Gentry Roaring River Elementary
Melanie Yarboro Ronda-Clingman Elementary
Kelsey Welborn Ronda-Clingman Elementary
Bethaney Hamby West Wilkes High School
Eugene Hayward West Wilkes High School
Joanne Schwab West Wilkes Middle School
Brandy Sappington Wilkes Central High School
Linnette Fitzgerald Wilkes Central High School
Paige Price Wilkes Central High School
Lt. Col. Rick Sapp/SM Sgt. Allen Lyles Wilkes Central High School
Jamie Miles Wilkes Central High School
Jennifer Estes Wilkes Central High School
Jonathan Greene Wilkes Central High School
Sonya Burchell Wilkesboro Elementary
Josie Hendren Wilkesboro Elementary
Alicia Stone Wilkesboro Elementary
Brooke Bentley Wilkesboro Elementary
Olivia Van Buskirk Wilkes Early College High School
Amber Roark Wilkes Early College High School

Focus on the Curriculum was presented by Mr. Jeffrey Johnson, Director of Testing and Accountability/Cultural Arts. Mr. Johnson gave a brief outline of the annual test results. The results from state testing for the 2020-2021 school year were released September 1, 2021, and are an indicator of the challenges that students and educators across North Carolina faced. Tests were taken under widely varying conditions including face-to-face, hybrid, and remote instruction.
While outcomes are predictably lower, the results are not objectively comparable to previous years. The U.S. Department of Education has waived accountability requirements to North Carolina and other states in consideration of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the NC General Assembly and the governor have now waived state accountability rules, including the calculation and reporting of A-F school performance grades and growth analyses. Tammy Howard, Director of Accountability Services for NCDPI states, “The data is provided to support public school units' discussions of students' instructional needs as the 2021-22 school year begins.”
Wilkes County Schools test results show our district had a steadfast focus on the improvement and growth of our students, and it is our hope to use these results to continue to improve and become better than we were before COVID. When comparing public school units across North Carolina, Wilkes County Schools ranks 18th out of 116 Public School Units when comparing grade-level proficiencies (level 3, 4, and 5). We also ranked 26th out of public school units when comparing College and Career Readiness (levels 4 and 5). The results shared show that we have kept a focus on providing our students with what they need during a very difficult time in history. The data presented is intended to be a starting point for us as we go forward. These results are positive and show our school district is committed to providing our students with opportunities to continue to do better than we have before.
Elementary data looks very promising and we have set a high bar by exceeding the state average for all subjects and grade levels 3-5. We tested >95% of our students in these areas.
Middle School data looks promising, exceeding state averages in all subjects and grade levels 6-8, with one area of exception, 7th grade Reading. We tested >95% of our students in these areas.
High School data is overall very positive. Math 1, Biology, and English 2 proficiencies are all above the state average. Math 3 is 0.2% below the state average. We tested >95% of eligible students in these areas. An interesting fact some may miss in looking at this data is that Wilkes County was able to assess 94% of their students in ACT WorkKeys and greater than 95% of their students in the ACT. Our proficiencies are below the State averages here but we tested almost all eligible students while the state fell well below these thresholds for both the ACT WorkKeys (67% tested) and the ACT (86% tested).
The future of Wilkes is bright, and our students and staff should take pride in what they have accomplished. Wilkes County Schools will continue to strive to improve in all areas because our students deserve the very best we can offer.

Chairman Mr. Rudy Holbrook asked if anyone had signed up for Public Comments. No one had signed up.
On a motion by Mr. Walker, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the minutes for August 2, 2021 (Regular Meeting) and August 30, 2021 (Emergency Meeting) were approved as presented.
On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mr. Walker and duly carried, the Personnel Report was approved as presented. Mr. Hardin Kennedy, III abstained from voting.

Resignation(s) and/or Retirement(s)

Robert Babb – Teacher – West Wilkes High School

Retirement effective – August 1, 2021 with twenty-nine years and three months of service

On a motion by Mr. Kennedy, seconded by Mrs. Huffman and duly carried, the Cash Management Plan was approved as presented. Wilkes County Schools Child Nutrition Department is required by the North Carolina Department of Instruction to obtain board approval of the Cash Management Plan used daily operations in the child nutrition department.
Cash Management Plan (Updated 07/23/2021)
Petty Cash:
The start-up funding for the beginning of each school year is defined and documented by the Child Nutrition Director (usually in the amount of $ 50.00 per POS/cash drawer). Not to exceed $250 per site. The amount in each cash drawer must be accounted for after each meal service by the cashier(s). This same amount is due back to the Child Nutrition office at the end of each school year.
Daily Cash Collection Procedures:
(1) All cashiers are to verify the beginning cash in his/her money drawer prior to meal service. During meal service, the cashier is to collect money for the exact items purchased, apply the money to the student account, note meal charges to student account, and make appropriate change as needed. At no time is the cashier/manager to "cash checks" for personal use, "cash checks" for other school personnel, or "cash checks" made out to the school.

For security measures, cashiers are not allowed to keep extra change in cash drawers or in their pockets. The cash drawer is to be kept in a secure location and never left unattended unless fully secured. Money should not be stacked on top of the cash drawer and all money received should be verified for accuracy before the customer leaves the point-of-sale.

(2) At the end of meal service, the cashier is to count all of the money in the drawer in the presence of the manager or assistant manager. The amount of petty cash must be subtracted to determine the actual amount of money collected. The cashier must enter the amount collected into the computer, sign the reconciliation form and turn the money over to the manager or assistant manager to be verified.

(3) Once the amount of money has been verified by the manager/assistant manager, the breakfast/lunch summary report will be run and signed by the manager/assistant manager and the cashier. The cashier is not permitted to run his/her own reports. If the manager/assistant manager feels that an error has been made by the cashier, the manager can run necessary reports to determine the nature of the error. Once the errors have been identified, the manager will counsel the cashier, make necessary corrections, re-run summary reports and obtain verifying signatures on the new report.

(4) Any employee caught in violation of these procedures will be reprimanded and/or terminated.
Meals Plus "F8" in POS:
Cashiers will be monitored on the frequency of using the F8 clear function in the Point of Sale program by requiring the assistance of a manager to make these adjustments. The manager/assistant manager is required to report to the Director if more than an occasional VOID (or F8) is required (6 or more adjustments per day). In reporting to the Director, the manager (or assistant manager if s/he is the PIC for the day) should write (via email) an explanation of the error and send to the Child Nutrition office for historical accountability as to why the adjustments were required.
Daily Deposit:
Cash must be deposited by the manager when the deposit reaches $25.00 greater than the starting register cash. A deposit is required on the last day of the month if cash on hand exceeds starting register monies no matter what the value. The manager should plan to make the deposit within the scheduled 8-hour workday. Bank time will be paid for traveling to the bank; however, it is the responsibility of each manager to report the bank time on the weekly payroll timesheet that is signed and sent to the CN office. Bank time will not be paid should the deposit be less than 25.00 unless it is the last working day of the month. Each cafeteria will be issued security deposit bags. In the event an emergency occurs and the money cannot be deposited, the Child Nutrition director must be notified for further details to secure the deposit and note the circumstances that prevented the deposit.

The manager or assistant manager will combine all monies collected from breakfast, snack, and lunch. All coins must be either rolled or put into individual envelopes by type and a total amount recorded on the outside. Cash must be bundled in 25s, 50s, or 100s when cash amounts permit. All checks must be endorsed with "deposit only" on the back. Each check MUST be recorded on the deposit ticket by last name of the issuer and amount. A calculator tape should be attached to the checks showing the addition and total. The daily deposit amount should equal the total of all breakfast and lunch summary reports.
Money Collected after Deposit is Complete:
In the event money is collected after the deposit is finalized and the day is "closed," any money collected must be secured until the next operating day. (It is best practice for the staff member receiving the funds to have a verifying signature of the cash amount.) Once operating again, the money can be recorded into the appropriate meal account and deposited.

Accountability is everyone’s responsibility. If an employee suspects or witnesses managers, assistant managers, or other employees not following the procedures outlined here, a report should be made immediately to the Child Nutrition Director. Anyone failing to report such observations places themselves in a collusion of misconduct and subject to termination.
Meal Counting:
Wilkes County Schools uses a verbal identifier (student name and ID number) method for cash collection in conjunction with the Meals Plus software at the point of sale. Using the verbal identifier method for cash collection, students are provided their individual PowerSchool student numbers. Each number is unique to that student and will follow them from Pre-Kindergarten through graduation. This number is also transferred from LEA to LEA as long as the student remains in the North Carolina public school system.

Each student tells the cashier their number or inputs their number through a keypad at the point of service. The cashier verifies the student's name and proceeds to ring up the sale. The Meals Plus software does not allow student eligibility information to be shown on the screen which prevents overt identification and protects the confidentiality of students receiving meal benefits.
There are two (2) methods of payment for meals and extra sales: 
(1) Cash on the line (at the point of service); 
(2) Prepayment.

Prepayment can be made either by sending money for the week, month, etc., or by creating an account using the online Lunch Prepay system. As students prepay for their meals, the information is entered into the automated computer system. At the time of meal service, the cashier enters the student’s number and the account is activated. The correct amount for the meal received is subtracted from the student account and a new balance is achieved.

For younger students, a coded ID card may be utilized until they can learn their unique student identifying number. The coded ID card is scanned in place of the student providing their PowerSchool number to the cashier for each transaction.

In the event of a power failure, the point-of-sale computers have an internal backup system allowing transactions to be recorded "off-line". When the power is restored, the system will update each student account with the appropriate transactions for the day. Each cashier also has available a current Emergency Roster that lists each student and their identifying number if there is a need to write down each transaction to be entered into the computer at a later time.

On a motion by Mr. Walker, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the contract for school-based Mental Health Services with Children’s Hope Alliance for the 2021-2022 school year was approved as presented. This contract provides education and consultation services to school administrators, instructional support staff, and teachers.

On a motion by Mrs. Caudill, seconded by Mrs. Huffman and duly carried, the contract for school-based Mental Health Services with CareNet, Inc. for the 2021-2022 school year was approved as presented. This contract provides education and consultation services to school administrators, instructional support staff, and teachers.

Mr. Byrd provided a brief update on the COVID-19 pandemic. "At our Emergency called meeting on Monday, August 30, the Board voted to fully follow all components of the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit, including required masks, and stated that this would be revisited after 30 days. Since that time, we have received clarity on legislation that was passed, specifically SB 654, which requires that a mask policy be voted on at each monthly scheduled board meeting. After speaking with Attorney Johnson, he advised that in order to meet statutory requirements, this needs to be placed on our agenda and voted on monthly. While I assumed that you would want to honor what was stated in our August 30 meeting, in order to legally do so, we will need a motion and a vote. As a reminder, whatever is decided tonight will need to be voted on again at our October 4th meeting."
On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mr. Walker, it was voted 4 to 1 to continue to follow the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit requirement to continue wearing masks. This will be voted on at our next board meeting. The voting results were: For - Mr. Holbrook, Mrs. Huffman, Mr. Walker, and Mrs. Caudill and Against - Mr. Hardin Kennedy, III.

On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mr. Kennedy, the Temporary Easement to Mr. Neil Lyon was approved as presented. This easement purpose was for Mr. Lyon to cut hay on the campus of North Wilkes High School just east of the ladies' softball field.

Dr. Donna Cotton, Chief Academic Officer, presented for discussion the Memorandum of Agreement with Wilkes Community College. Wilkes County Schools and Wilkes Community College have a strong partnership in jointly supporting the Wilkes Early College High School program. Dr. Cotton submitted this agreement that sets the parameter of the operation of Wilkes Early College High School on the campus of Wilkes Community College.

Dr. Donna Cotton, Chief Academic Officer, presented for discussion the Memorandum of Agreement with Wilkes Community College and Career and College Promise program. Wilkes County Schools and Wilkes Community College have a strong partnership in the Career and College Promise program offered at our four traditional high schools.

Chairman Mr. Holbrook had the following announcement:               
  • September 27, 2021 – Required Workday
Chairman Mr. Holbrook announced the next meeting to be October 4, 2021. The meeting will be held in the Arnold and Becky Lakey Boardroom located at 613 Cherry Street, North Wilkesboro, North Carolina beginning at 5:30 PM.

On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, there being no further business, the Board adjourned at 6:21 PM.
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