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!”