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2021-22 Board Meeting Minutes » October 4, 2021

October 4, 2021

Summary of Board Meeting Minutes for October 4, 2021
The Board of Education of the Wilkes County Administrative Unit conducted a regular meeting in the Arnold and Becky Lakey Boardroom on Monday, October 4, 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 Secondary Education/Athletics/and School Safety Mr. David Johnson, Director of Testing & Accountability/Cultural Arts Mr. Jeffery Johnson, AIG Coordinator Mrs. Angie Lamb, Public Information Officer Mrs. Morgan Mathis, and Executive Administrative Assistant Mrs. Carolyn Triplett. Special Guests included Wilkes County Principal Mrs. Beckie Spears, Wilkes County Law Enforcement, Wilkes County Health Director Mrs. Rachael Willard, and Mrs. Lindsey Roberts.
Chairman Mr. Rudy Holbrook called the meeting to order.
On a motion by Mr. Kennedy, seconded by Mrs. Huffman 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 by stating, "I have two items I would like for everyone in the room to help me with over the next few weeks. First, I want to ask for everyone’s assistance in helping to protect our students and staff from something none of us should ever be dealing with. A challenge on TikTok called 'devious licks' has recently challenged students to record videos of themselves vandalizing school property or stealing personal items from teachers. While we hear about this on the national scene, it did find its way to our schools, and fortunately, our damage was minor. This did, however, lead to some instances of additional work for our staff and additional supervision for everyone. In a time when school staff members’ jobs are harder than ever, this just provided another challenge for our staff members. I share this because I have recently heard that the challenge for October is called 'smack a staff member' and students are encouraged to share videos of themselves smacking a school staff member. My fear is that one of our students will think this is a joke or prank and will end up doing something that will result in a long-term suspension from school and criminal charges. I never want to see a student end up in major trouble for something they thought was a prank, but I need to make sure they are aware this will not be tolerated and will not be treated lightly. So, I encourage each of us in the room, whether student, educator, or parent, to speak to students about how much trouble this could result in for them and the long-term impact it could have on their future. Let’s remind them of the long-term consequences that a short video could have on their future, and coach them to make wise choices moving forward. I know our students are respectful and want to do the right things, so let’s be proactive and take time to speak to them about the problems this could cause. I think we owe it to them to have this conversation."
"On a more positive note, the month of October is National Principal’s Month, and I would ask you all to join me as we celebrate the work of our 22 principals. Research shows the person who has the greatest impact on the culture of an entire school is the principal, and I think we all know that is true. Being a principal is one of the hardest jobs in education, and Wilkes County Schools is very fortunate to have the 22 school leaders that we do. A principalship is harder today than ever before, and we need to recognize and thank the ones we have. So, during the month of October, I hope you will take a minute to say 'thank you' to the principals you encounter for they lead our schools on a daily basis!"

Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to announce The Governor’s School students who attended the 2021 Summer Session. The Governor's School of North Carolina is a five and a half week summer residential program for intellectually gifted high school students, integrating academic disciplines, the arts, and unique courses. The curriculum focuses on the exploration of the most recent ideas and concepts in each discipline and does not involve credit, tests, or grades. Wilkes County Schools had three students selected by the state Governor’s School committee to attend during the 2021 summer session.
Caroline Langston is a current 12th grader at WCHS. She attended Governor’s School on the campus of High Point University. Caroline’s focus of study was English.
Sophie Pontzer is a current 12th grader at WCHS. She attended Governor’s School on the campus of Meredith College. Sophie’s focus of study was Natural Sciences.
Vivian Nguyen is a current 12th grader at WECHS. She attended Governor’s School on the campus of High Point University. Vivian’s focus of study was English.
Congratulations to all these students on being selected for such a wonderful honor.

Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to announce the opening of Wilkesboro Elementary School's brand new playground after being under construction for most of the summer. Their old playground, known as "The Big Toy," was over 26 years old. It was with the generous support of over 600 donors, four local foundations, and the Wilkesboro community that they were able to fund this important project totaling $173,000. Congratulations to Wilkesboro Elementary for their hard work in making this dream a reality for our students and community!

Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to recognize the staff of Central Services. The Child Nutrition Department has been operating with 12 open positions, not counting medical leaves or COVID-related absences. The staff of Central Services has stepped up to support Child Nutrition during these difficult times. Marty Johnson, Director of Child Nutrition stated, "We are blessed to be part of an organization that works to support each other when needed. Child Nutrition is grateful for the help that was extended to ensure our students received a healthy and nutritious meal."
Thank you to the following Central Services staff:
Mark Byrd
David Johnson
Dr. Donna Cotton
Seth Prevette
Elaine Martin
Dr. Westley Wood
Bergie Speaks
Tammy Blevins
Timmy Davis
Aaron Blackburn
Tim Pruitt
Jake Barker
Scott Church
Angie Lamb
Angela Bell
Dr. Joe Bullis
Morgan Mathis
Jeffery Johnson
Robin Stanley
Melissa Shepherd
Callie Grubb
Ramona Burkhart
Dawn Michael
Elaine Carson
Julie Triplett
Loretta Shumate
Nichole McNeill
Donna Absher
Julie Benton
Juana Liberatore
Eric Barker
Brandon Walker
Abby Dyer
Rosanna Limon-Reyes
Darlene Shumate
Michelle Parsons
Mahala Absher
Maria Bailey
Jan Burgess
Chrissy Howell
Betsy Nance
Allison Wingerson

Focus on the Curriculum was presented by Mrs. Callie Grubb, Director of Elementary and Pre-K Education. Mrs. Callie Grubb gave a brief description of and outlined the new Read to Achieve Legislation. As stated in Senate Bill 387 (updated Read to Achieve Legislation), all North Carolina educators working with NC Pre-K through fifth grade students are required to participate in the LETRS® training programs. LETRS® stands for Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling and is a product of Voyager Sopris Learning, Inc. LETRS® training will provide teachers with the necessary skills to master the fundamentals of reading instruction – phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, writing, and language.
LETRS® training will be implemented across the state in three different phases. Wilkes County Schools will be in Cohort 1 and began training in the fall of 2021. We will conclude our training in the spring of 2023. The training consists of online modules, readings, Bridge to Classroom activities, mastery tests, and virtual training sessions. These components will take, on average, an hour and a half to complete each week over the course of two years. Mrs. Callie Grubb, Director of Elementary and Pre-K Education, also presented a PowerPoint that provided more details of this professional development opportunity with a breakdown of training dates.

Chairman Mr. Rudy Holbrook asked if anyone had signed up for Public Comments. Two individuals signed up to speak regarding the COVID-19 mask policy – Mr. Blaine Johnson and Mrs. Holly Absher. Both expressed their concerns and were in favor of continuing the wearing of masks in Wilkes County Schools. A vote will be taken in the action session of the business meeting.
On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the minutes for September 13, 2021 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)

Laura Wills – Teacher – East Wilkes High School

Retirement effective – January 1, 2022 with thirty-four years and seven months of service


Aaron Blackburn – From General Maintenance – Maintenance Department

To Warehouse Director – Maintenance Department

On a motion by Mr. Kennedy and seconded by Mrs. Huffman, the Out-of-County/Overnight Field Trip list was approved. The vote was 4-1 with Mrs. Caudill voting against. 
School Group Destination Dates
Wilkes Central High School Chorus
Winston-Salem, NC
Wilkes Early College High School Beta Club
Greensboro, NC
Wilkes Central High School HOSA Club
Greensboro, NC

Mr. Byrd provided a brief update on the COVID-19 pandemic. "We are starting to see some improvement in the numbers, which is a good thing." Mrs. Rachel Willard, Wilkes County Health Director, added that the positivity rate for school-aged children this week is 26% which is down a little from 29% last week. She is still concerned that overall the positivity rate for this age group is not really coming down yet as fast as they would like. It is still early, and they do not expect to see a significant decrease for another few weeks. Based on this information, it was recommended to continue to follow the NC Strong School Toolkit recommendations at this time.
On a motion by Mrs. Caudill, seconded by Mrs. Huffman, it was voted 3 to 2 to continue following the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit requirement of wearing masks. This will be voted on at our next scheduled board meeting. The voting results were: For - Mrs. Huffman, Mr. Walker, and Mrs. Caudill and Against - Mr. Holbrook and Mr. Kennedy.

Chairman Mr. Holbrook made the following announcements:               
  • October 20, 2021 – First Grading Period Ends
  • October 21, 2021 – Required Workday
  • October 22, 2021 – Optional Workday
  • October 25, 2021 – Second Grading Period Begins
Chairman Mr. Holbrook announced the next meeting to be November 1, 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 and seconded by Mr. Walker, the board adjourned to closed session to prevent the disclosure of information that is privileged or confidential under state or federal law, including but not limited to N.C.G.S. 115C-319, N.C.G.S. 115C-402, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(1) to consult with its attorney in order to preserve the attorney-client privilege, pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(3) consider the qualification, competence, performance, character, fitness, conditions of appointment, or conditions for initial employment of an individual public officer or employee, or prospective public officer to employee, pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318.11 (a)(6).

On a motion by Mrs. Caudill and seconded by Mr. Kennedy, the Board voted unanimously to end the closed session at 8:15 PM.

On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mr. Walker and duly carried, there being no further business, the Board adjourned from open session at 8:17 PM.
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