The Board of Education of the Wilkes County Administrative Unit conducted a regular meeting in the Arnold and Becky Lakey Boardroom on Monday, November 1, 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 (via telephone), 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 Child Nutrition Mr. Marty Johnson, Director of Secondary Education/Athletics/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, Wilkes County Health Director Mrs. Rachel Willard, and Mrs. Lindsey Roberts.
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 by stating, "We all associate the month of November with a season of thanks, and something has been on my mind for over a week that I know I can do a better job of thanking people for. Last week, I attended the funeral of Mrs. Coleen Bush, who not only served as the first female principal in Wilkes County Schools, but I also read that following her time on the Board, she served the students of Wilkes County Schools for over 50 years. This morning, I attended a Wilkes County Hall of Fame breakfast where inductees from all over our county met with our students to provide assistance, guidance, and help moving forward. In other words, they gave of their time to provide service to our students. Next Thursday, we will celebrate those who at one point or another in their lives served our country and, if there are any veterans in the room tonight, let me personally thank you for your time protecting the freedoms that I enjoy every single day. Our teachers and staff are doing more to serve students on a daily basis than at any time in their entire careers."
"So my question to each of us is to ask if we say 'thank you' and let people know their efforts are appreciated? This is probably more meaningful now than at any point in my life. So, my challenge to each of us is to not wait until November 25th to thank those around us, but to make it a point to say thank you to someone providing a service to us every single day this month! I think doing so will not only help those who are helping us to know they are appreciated, but it will serve as a great reminder to each of us just how many people help us on a daily basis! Let’s make the entire month of November a season of thanks, not just a few days later in the month. I know it will make every day better for each of us!”
Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to announce the top winners from the Mountaineer Readers Program. This program is a partnership between the Reich College of Education and Appalachian State Athletics with the purpose of promoting and celebrating literacy in surrounding counties. Each year, participating students read books of their choosing during the summer months and record their reading on a log provided by App State Athletics/RCOE. Students then submit the log to their school’s media center coordinator the first week of school. Wilkes County had three students recognized for being top students for the county, and one school recognized for being the top school in the region. Congratulations to these students who were the top readers for Wilkes County:
- Aaleigha Hodge from Mountain View Elementary was the top reader in the 1st-2nd grade category;
- Colton Cannon from Mountain View Elementary was the top reader in the 3rd-4th grade category; and,
- Mallory Cockrell from Millers Creek Elementary was the top reader in the 5th grade category.
These students will be celebrated at an Appalachian State football game on November 13, 2021, and a video of them will be projected on the JumboTron during the football game for all to see!
Congratulations to Wilkesboro Elementary School for being the top school readers for the region. The school will receive a virtual pep rally from App State Athletics on a scheduled date in the near future.
Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to announce the Mountain Valley 1A/2A Athletic Conference Recognitions. The Mountain Valley 1A/2A Athletic Conference coaches vote on awards at the conclusion of each sports season. The awards that are given include Coach of the Year, All-Conference, and Honorable Mention teams. We are proud to recognize one athlete from Wilkes County Schools that was chosen as player of the year for the fall athletic season.
We would like to congratulate Kendall Stanley from West Wilkes High School. Kendall was recognized by the Mountain Valley Conference as the Tennis Singles Individual Conference Champion. Congratulations!
Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to recognize the CARE Award. On October 21st, the Student Services Department of Wilkes County Schools held a special award ceremony for their director, Mrs. April Marr. The Student Services Department consists of school counselors, social workers, nurses, GEAR UP coordinators, and Families in Transition liaisons. These staff members got together to recognize Mrs. April Marr for going above and beyond for both students and staff of Wilkes County Schools. They presented the CARE Award to Mrs. April Marr. CARE stands for "Children Are Reason Enough". Congratulations to Mrs. April Marr!
Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to acknowledge the 2021-2022 Wilkes County Schools’ Beginning Teacher of the Year. The North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT) recently announced the annual NCCAT Beginning Teacher of the Year Award. This process was developed to honor beginning teachers and retain potential excellent teachers in North Carolina Public Schools. Each school district chooses a nominee who will then advance to compete for the regional winner. Nominees must have been employed by Wilkes County Schools in a full-time teaching position for the full 2020-2021 school year as a first-year teacher and must be employed with Wilkes County Schools for the 2021-2022 school year as their second year of teaching. Nominees must also demonstrate success in the classroom according to the North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards. Candidates can be nominated by principals, assistant principals, central office directors, instructional specialists, or superintendents.
Wilkes County Schools is pleased to announce that our 2021-2022 Beginning Teacher of the Year is Ms. Brooke Bentley. Ms. Bentley is a fifth-grade teacher at Wilkesboro Elementary School. Her principal, Mrs. Beckie Spears said, "Brooke inspires students by leading them to discover their own strengths. She has a knack for celebrating the unique qualities of each person and coaches students to use their strengths to benefit the group. She is open, honest, and vulnerable about her own growth as a teacher and a person, and she normalizes struggle and achievement. By making these conversations part of everyday learning, Brooke helps kids move forward as learners, thinkers, and problem solvers. She is a coach as much as a teacher. She embodies all that we hope for our students; that they will one day return to our community and re-invest in building a better society."
Focus on the Curriculum was presented by Dr. Donna Cotton, Chief Academic Officer. Dr. Cotton gave a brief description of and outlined the two new 2022 Summer Learning opportunities. ESSER II funds have been allocated to all public school units (PSU) for summer learning. Two separate allotments will allow PSUs to facilitate a Summer Bridge Academy and/or a Career Accelerator Program. According to the Office of Learning Recovery and Acceleration at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, both of these programs are optional for PSU participation. At this time, Wilkes County Schools is planning how to best implement the programs during the summer of 2022. Dr. Cotton presented the guidelines of the programs and the plans Wilkes County Schools is developing for these student enrichment opportunities this summer.
The Summer Bridge Academy (K-12) grant program will help fund high-quality, evidence-based in-person learning and enrichment summer programs for students deemed "at-risk" or those the PSU identify as having been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will respond to the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of students.
The Career Accelerator Program grant program will help fund high-quality, evidence-based learning and workforce-aligned summer programs for students deemed "at-risk" or those the PSU identify as having been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This program will respond to the academic, social-emotional, and mental health needs of students in grades 6-12.
The total allotment for the two programs combined is $363,157. This amount will cover personnel, transportation, child nutrition, and supplies and materials. Both programs are optional summer opportunities that Wilkes County Schools will offer in each district. We will not have a Summer Learning Camp like we offered during 2021. The only legislatively mandated summer learning that will be offered is the Read to Achieve Summer Reading Camp.
Chairman Mr. Rudy Holbrook asked if anyone had signed up for Public Comments. Three individuals signed up to speak regarding the COVID-19 Mask Policy: Deborah McNally, Melody Johnson, and Reba Cox. All three expressed their concerns and were in favor of continuing the wearing of masks in Wilkes County Schools. A vote will be taken during the action session of the business meeting.
On a motion by Mr. Walker, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the Minutes for October 4, 2021, were approved as presented.
On a motion by Mrs. Caudill, seconded by Mr. Walker and duly carried, the Personnel Report was approved as presented.
Resignation(s) and/or Retirement(s)
Shanda Adkins – Principal – Moravian Falls Elementary School
Retirement effective – December 1, 2021, with thirty-three years and eight months of service
Donna Cosolito – Teacher – Central Wilkes Middle School
Retirement effective – October 1, 2021, with twenty-four years and four months of service
Rosa Howard – Custodian – Wilkes Central High School
Retirement effective – January 1, 2022, with twelve years and four months of service
Caroline Nichols – Teacher – C.B. Eller Elementary School
Retirement effective – January 1, 2022, with twenty years and eight months of service
On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the field trips were approved as presented.
|East Wilkes High School
|East Wilkes High School
|East Wilkes High School
On a motion by Mr. Walker, seconded by Mrs. Huffman and duly carried, the Memorandum of Agreement with Community College and Wilkes Career and College Promise Agreement for 2021-2022 was approved as presented.
On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mr. Walker and duly carried, the Memorandum of Agreement with Community College and Wilkes Early College High School for 2021-2022 was approved as presented.
On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the Wilkes County Schools and Wilkes Community College Local Articulation Agreement for 2021-2022 was approved as presented. Wilkes County Schools and Wilkes Community College have a strong partnership in providing high school students many opportunities to gain college credits while completing their high school requirements. The local articulation agreement adds additional articulated courses at the local level that are not included in the statewide North Carolina High School to Community College Articulation Agreement, further streamlining students’ educational pathways by eliminating the need to take multiple courses with the same learning outcomes. The revisions to the 2021-2022 agreement include an update to current courses offered in Wilkes County Schools.
On a motion by Mrs. Caudill, seconded by Mrs. Huffman and duly carried, the School Improvement Plans for 2021-2022 were approved as presented. School Improvement Plans are written each year following a very thorough school-wide reflection process that involves the principal, school improvement team, and parents. Principals and leadership teams work diligently to make the School Improvement Plan a living document that directs their efforts to help students achieve at higher levels and demonstrate growth. Wilkes County Schools uses an online tool called NC Star for the template of our continuous school improvement process. A code to preview each school’s plan is located on the school website. As defined in G.S. 115C-105.37, schools identified as low-performing (receiving a school performance grade of D or F and school growth score of "met expected growth" or "not met expected growth") must develop an improvement plan that specifically addresses how the school will improve both the school performance grade and school growth score. Also, schools must notify parents of the low-performing status. Wilkes County Schools does not have any schools designated as low-performing.
On a motion by Mrs. Caudill, seconded by Mr. Walker and duly carried, the 2021-2022 Comprehensive Continuous Improvement Plan Application for Federal Funds was approved as presented. This includes Title IA, Title II-A, Title III – Language Acquisition, Title III – Significant Increase of Immigrant Children, and Title IV – Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE). The Comprehensive Continuous Improvement Plan (CCIP) is a web-based planning and grants management tool and connects district goals for improvement with budgeted activities. CCIP is used by school districts to apply for federal funds.
On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mr. Walker and duly carried, the Domestic Abuse is Not Acceptable (D.A.N.A) Memorandum of Understanding for the 2021-2022 school year was approved as presented. Due to Wilkes County no longer having a domestic abuse shelter, D.A.N.A. (a program of the Alleghany Partnership for Children) is providing these services to residents of our county. This MOU will help provide support for students who are victims of physical or sexual assault or whose families are experiencing domestic abuse. Additionally, D.A.N.A. staff will be able to provide educational awareness training to students or school staff as needed on healthy relationships and personal safety.
Mr. Byrd provided a brief update on the COVID-19 pandemic. The following information was provided by The NC Department of Health and Human Services. Given that our student population is largely not yet vaccinated, face coverings remain a critical tool for protecting children and keeping them safely in the classroom. NCDHHS recommends schools continue to implement a universal face-covering requirement if they are located in a county with high or substantial community transmission level. When community transmission levels decline to moderate or low levels for at least seven consecutive days, school leaders can consider making face coverings optional for vaccinated individuals. Face coverings should continue to be required for all unvaccinated individuals until community transmission is at low levels, when masks could be optional for everyone. NCDHHS will continue to re-evaluate this guidance as all school-aged children become eligible for and are vaccinated. As of Friday, October 29th, our local Health Director, Rachel Willard, shared the following: "Our transmission rate is still considered high, as we have 133 cases per 100,000 people, and we would need to be under 100 per 100,000 to be considered no longer a red or high transmission county. Our positivity rate is at 5.6% and would need to be below 5% to be where we need to be." Her recommendations are as follows: Her first choice is for the mask mandate to remain in place for one more month to get us where we need to be. Her second choice would be for us to consider keeping the mandate in place for K-8 students for one more month and allow them an opportunity to be vaccinated. At this time, Mr. Byrd stated, "We need a motion to determine whether we will continue to follow the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit until our December 6, 2021 meeting or to change this decision that was made on August 30, 2021."
On a motion by Mrs. Caudill, seconded by Mr. Walker, it was voted 3 to 2 to continue to follow the Strong School NC Public Health Toolkit and the recommendation of our local Health Department to continue 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:
- November 11, 2021 – Veteran's Day Holiday
- November 22-23, 2021 – Optional Workdays
- November 24, 2021 – Annual Leave
- November 25-26, 2021 – Thanksgiving Holiday
Chairman Mr. Holbrook announced the next meeting to be December 6, 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 behalf of all Board Members, a Happy Thanksgiving was wished for all!
On a motion by Mr. Walker, seconded by Mrs. Huffman and duly carried, there being no further business, the Board adjourned at 6:25 PM.