The Board of Education of the Wilkes County Administrative Unit conducted a regular meeting in the Arnold and Becky Lakey Boardroom on Monday, January 10, 2022, 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 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/and School Safety Mr. David Johnson, Director of Testing & Accountability/Cultural Arts Mr. Jeffery Johnson, Director of Transportation Mr. Eric Barker, AIG Coordinator Mrs. Angie Lamb, Public Information Officer Mrs. Morgan Mathis, and Executive Administrative Assistant Mrs. Carolyn Triplett. Special Guests included Wilkes County Law Enforcement and Wilkes County Health Director Mrs. Rachael Willard.
Chairman Mr. Rudy Holbrook called the meeting to order.
On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mr. Kennedy 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 hoped that everyone had a good start to the New Year 2022. January is National School Board Recognition Month, and Mr. Byrd personally thanked the Wilkes County School Board of Education Members for their hard work for our students during their time on the board. Mr. Byrd commented, "I would think that the time that you have served is as difficult as that served by any board member during the history of our school system and your service is appreciated." Mr. Byrd asked for those in attendance to please join him in a round of applause to say "thank you" for your service to our students and our staff.
"I was thinking yesterday that two years ago this week, I was in a meeting where our County Manager, John Yates, asked me how much attention I was paying to this coronavirus. I remember him sharing at that time that he believed this would have a tremendous impact on us all. At the time, I didn't realize how much he knew what he was talking about. I then remember a friend who is Superintendent of Newton Conover City Schools, Dr. Aron Gabriel, telling me later that one of the worst parts of a pandemic would be how people would treat one another near the end. He, too, turned out to be a very prophetic person as well."
"Last night, I left the TV on after a football game and heard a term that was new to me, which was majority fatigue. I may get this wrong, but as I understand, this is when the majority of people are tired of the negative news they continue to hear and the negativity around them. This hit home with me because everyone in this room, no matter what their line of work or responsibility, has seen this change in our society and is impacted by it daily. We need to realize that this is so large that social media platforms earn millions of dollars per year just through the notion that we will continue to utilize this to spread negative information. We hear daily that the social and emotional well-being of many is very low right now, and in my opinion, it is centered around the constant flow of negative information."
"As I shared with our administrators in November, at first I thought people were so negative because they were tired, but I truly believe if we do not get a hold of this now, it is becoming our way of life more than because we are tired. Society is losing hope and part of the reason is we are constantly providing negative information which can become overwhelming. So my challenge to each of you for 2022 is to be the person who provides some positive news to those around you rather than falling into the trap of continuing to provide negativity. When was the last time you went out of your way to make someone else's day better?"
"Tonight, we will recognize a regional Principal of the Year for the first time in decades for our county, approve an updated Strategic Plan for the first time in 6 years, and propose a bonus for all of our employees. If we can’t be positive tonight, what will it take to make us that way? But what will you leave here talking about? Our school system and our county have handled this pandemic as well as any around us. Why don't you and I become the positive person that helps our county and our world overcome so much of the negativity that has come with it? Every person in this room is supposed to be helping young people know how to act and deal with the challenges of this world, so shouldn’t we be showing them how to be positive rather than negative like so many things around them? I think students and adults alike would appreciate it if we could help change this."
Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to recognize the Poetry Out Loud Winners for the current school year. The Poetry Out Loud district competition was held on Thursday, December 2, 2021. Nine high school students participated in this competition. Poetry Out Loud encourages students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master pubic speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.
Congratulations to runner-up, Anna Tilley, from East Wilkes High School!
Congratulations to winner, Skyler Teague, from West Wilkes High School!
Anna is also a two-time winner! Skyler and Anna will represent Wilkes County in the State Poetry Out Loud competition in the spring.
Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to announce The North Carolina Region 7 Principal of the Year. The Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year (POY) Program was established in 1984 in collaboration with the Department of Public Instruction to recognize outstanding principals from the North Carolina Public Schools. School districts select a local principal of the year that represents them in the regional selection process. The regional selection process includes a portfolio evaluation and interview of the candidates. Those selected from each region then participate in the state selection process.
We would like to congratulate Wilkes County Schools’ Principal of the Year, Dr. Heather Freeman, for being named the North Carolina Region 7 Principal of the Year! Dr. Freeman will now be one of nine candidates competing for North Carolina Principal of the Year.
Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to acknowledge National Board Certifications. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) released the latest number of teachers to receive National Board Certification for both states and the nation. Working to establish a professional career continuum for teachers, the National Board is at work across the country, setting the expectation that all teachers should demonstrate accomplished teaching via National Board Certification and become leaders in their schools and communities. Created for teachers, by teachers, National Board Certification in a voluntary, performance based, peer-review process that recognizes the complex nature of teaching. National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) are having a significant impact on student achievement.
Congratulations to the following Wilkes County Schools teachers who were recently awarded National Board Certification:
Seth Phillips, North Wilkes High School
Social Studies-History/Adolescence and Young Adulthood
Heather Melton, Millers Creek Elementary School
Alison Crouse, C.C. Wright Elementary School
Literacy: Reading-Language Arts/Early and Middle Childhood
Amanda Stamper, North Wilkes High School
Health Education/Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood
Focus on Curriculum was presented by Dr. Donna Cotton, Chief Academic Officer. The month of January is a transition time in our schools. High schools are preparing for the fall semester final exams and the beginning of spring semester. All schools are evaluating their progress so far this year, assessing where they are and where they need to be, and adjusting instruction as needed to meet the school’s goals.
Dr. Cotton presented a mid-year review of progress so far this year and what is coming within the next few weeks, and where we plan to be by the end of the school year. This is a time to reflect on what we have accomplished so far this school year and what our next steps should be in order to accomplish our goals. Semesters change at the high school level, and January brings the transition from 2nd nine weeks to 3rd nine weeks.
Over the course of this month, teachers will be receiving mid-year reviews from their principals, and principals will have a mid-year review with the superintendent. Again, this is an opportunity to reflect on what has been accomplished and what next steps need to be taken. We continue to work on LETRS for all elementary teachers. 100% of principals have completed the administrator training. 86% of our Pre-K teachers are on track to complete the NC Pre-K training. 95% of our K-5 teachers are on track to complete Units 1 and 2. Units 3 and 4 for K-5 teachers will be completed during spring semester. We are working on Reading Apprenticeships for high school teachers of English, Science, and Social Studies with focus of reading in the content areas and focus on supporting literacy for our young adult learners.
In Mathematics, the elementary teachers have been receiving grade-level specific professional development on instructional strategies for mathematics. This training will continue into spring semester with Dr. Drew Polly. Dr. Polly is a Professor in the department of Reading and Elementary Education, the Program Director for Graduate Certificate/License in Elementary School Mathematics, and the Coordinator for the Elementary Education strand of the Doctoral Program in Curriculum and Instruction at UNC-Charlotte. Middle School math teachers are receiving professional development throughout the year on the middle school mathematics curriculum, Illustrative Mathematics.
The Learning Recovery for all schools, grades 3-12 have been using STAR diagnostic assessments to gauge student learning and assess student progress. Diagnostic assessments allow teachers to assess specific standards, skills, or focus areas to "diagnose" a student’s strengths and/or areas of concern. Pinpointing those areas informs the teachers' instruction. Knowing a student has a misunderstanding or weakness in relation to a skill or concept, teachers can supply support, such as interventions, to help the student master the skill/concept. The diagnostic assessment will then allow teachers to determine if the student is making progress after those supports have been in place.
Social Emotional Learning with DESSA is provided to all students. DESSA is a universal screener that helps our teachers focus on student strengths and know which areas of social emotional learning are needed for their students. Our high school students will use DESSA to rate themselves and develop their own goals in these areas. Base Education is a curriculum being used with all students to enhance and support student understanding and management of their social and emotional health and wellness. The social emotional skills being focused on with these initiatives are self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills, social awareness, and responsible decision-making. All schools offer school-based therapy services for all students who need emotional and mental wellness support. These providers also offer consultation and educational sessions for staff when needed. Training is being provided for teachers/staff. This training uses the DESSA screener and teaching Base Education lessons which have helped develop our educator's abilities to support and deliver integrated social emotional learning lessons to our students.
Each school team is developing an employee wellness plan to help support the health and well-being of school staff and create a culture of self-care to help reduce staff absences and burnout. Bonuses for teachers and staff are also being identified.
Dr. Cotton provided the following for what is coming up in the high school fall semester for testing. January 10-13, 2022 are scheduled testing dates. WECHS has already completed fall semester testing with Math 1 (75% Proficient) and Math 3 (96% Proficient). Access testing (ESL students only) will be testing January 24 - March 11, 2022. The end of the year testing at this time is scheduled for May 12-25, 2022 for middle schools and elementary schools and May 19-25, 2022 for high schools. The Wilkes Early College is scheduled for May 16-20, 2022. These dates are subject to change.
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. Joel Clonch and Mrs. Fran Cantrell expressed their concerns over 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. Caudill, seconded by Mr. Walker and duly carried, the minutes for December 6, 2021 were approved as presented.
On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mr. Walker and duly carried, the Personnel Report was approved as presented.
Heather Pardue – Teacher – North Wilkes Middle School
To Assistant Principal – West Wilkes Middle School
Transfer(s) of Assignment(s)
Ashley Boykin – From Assistant Principal – West Wilkes Middle School
To Assistant Principal – C.C. Wright Elementary School
On a motion by Mr. Kennedy, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the field trips were approved as presented.
|North Wilkes High School
Mars Hill, NC
|East Wilkes High School
|West Wilkes High School
|Wilkes Early College High School
|10th Grade Students
On a motion by Mr. Kennedy, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the Wilkes County Schools Summer Program Plan for 2021-2022 was approved as presented.
On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mr. Kennedy and duly carried, the Child Nutrition Software Upgrade was approved as presented.
On a motion by Mr. Walker, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Drones) Policy was approved as presented. This policy takes into account the use of drones by school staff, students, vendors, and community members for education, business, and recreational purposes. This policy adheres to all federal, state, and local law and regulations regarding the use of unmanned aircraft systems.
On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mr. Kennedy and duly carried, the 2022-2023 Wilkes County Schools Academic Calendar was approved as presented. This 164-day academic calendar meets statutory requirements. North Carolina general statute allows the start of school to be no earlier that the Monday closest to August 26, 2022.
On a motion by Mr. Walker, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the Title IX of the Educational Amendment Act for Board Polices were approved as presented. These polices are listed below:
- Policy 1725/4035/7236 – Title IX Sexual Harassment Prohibited Conduct and Reporting Process
- Policy 1726/4036/7237 – Title IX Sexual Harassment Grievance Process
- Policy 1710/4020/7230 – Discrimination and Harassment Prohibited by Federal Law
- Policy 4329/7311 – Bullying and Harassment Behavior Prohibited
- Policy 7232 – Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace
On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mr. Kennedy and duly carried, the Revision of Board Polices - Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act were approved as presented. These polices are listed below:
- Policy 1730 – Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disabilities
- Policy 1740/4010 – Student and Parent Grievance Procedure
- Policy 1742/5060 – Responding to Complaints
- Policy 1750/7220 – Grievance Procedure for Employees
On a motion by Mr. Kennedy, seconded by Mr. Walker and duly carried, the Repeal of Board Policies - Title IX of the Educational Amendment act were approved as presented. They are listed below:
- Policy 1710/4021/7230 – Prohibition Against Discrimination, Harassment, and Bullying
- Policy 1720/4015/7225 – Discrimination, Harassment, and Bullying Complaint Procedure
On a motion by Mrs. Caudill, seconded by Mrs. Huffman and duly carried, the Recommendation of Board Policies with Technology were approved as presented and are listed below:
- Policy 3226/4205 – Internet Safety
- Policy 4705/7825 – Confidentiality of Personally Identifiable Information
- Policy 6524 – Network Security
On a motion by Mr. Kennedy, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the Revision of Board Polices in Technology and Media were approved as presented. They are listed below:
- Policy 3200 – Selection of Textbooks and Supplementary Materials
- Policy 3210 – Parental Inspection and Objection to Instructional Materials
- Policy 3230/7330 – Copyright Compliance
- Policy 3220 – Technology in the Educational Program
- Policy 3225/4312/7320 – Technology Responsible Use
- Policy 3227/7322 – Web Page Development
On a motion by Mr. Walker, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the Repeal of Board Policies in Technology were approved as presented. These policies have been repealed by the North Carolina State of Education and are listed below:
- Policy 3221 – Hardware
- Policy 3222 – Software
- Policy 3223 – Web 2.0
- Policy 6523 – Use of Computers
On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mr. Walker and duly carried, the Purchase of Classroom Interactive Displays were approved as presented. Sharp Business Systems with a bid of $2,675.50 was approved.
On a motion by Mr. Kennedy, seconded by Mrs. Huffman and duly carried, the Budget Amendments for the State Public School Fund were approved as presented.
On a motion by Mr. Kennedy, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the Wilkes County Schools Incentive/Retention Plan for 2021-2022 was approved as presented. This plan will use Federal ESSER funding to reward the current employees of Wilkes County Schools and encourage them to stay with our system. Use of funds for this incentive have been approved from the federal level.
On a motion by Mr. Kennedy, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the Wilkes County Schools Strategic Plan was approved. Strategic plans are the means by which the school districts continually recreates itself toward extraordinary purpose and puts the leaders in charge of change as much as possible, rather than circumstances. Possible outcomes include improved instruction, improved student performance, improved accountability, improved utilization of resources, improved communication, improved teamwork, improved decision-making, better utilization of data, improved budget management, sometimes a vehicle for accreditation, and opportunities for self-renewal, and both personal and professional growth.
Mr. Byrd provided a brief update on the COVID-19 pandemic. The NC Department of Health and Human Services has updated the StrongSchools Toolkit FAQs related to K-12 schools and face coverings. 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 vaccinations.
As of Friday, January 7, 2022 our local Health Director, Rachel Willard, shared that Wilkes County is 17.1% positive, and we are still considered to be "in the red" or above 5%. Mr. Byrd did ask Rachel Willard for her recommendations on the mask mandate as of Friday, January 7, and she stated, "Given that we were above the 5% threshold, the Health Department would recommend that we follow the CDC and NCDHHS recommendation that masks remain mandated in schools." She did state that she supports our school system no matter what decision is made.
Mr. Byrd needed a motion to determine whether we will continue to follow the StrongSchools NC Public Health Toolkit until our February 7, 2022 meeting or to change this decision that was made on August 30, 2021. On a motion by Mr. Kennedy, seconded by Mr. Holbrook it was voted to allow masks to be optional. However, it was voted by Mrs. Huffman, Mr. Walker, and Mrs. Caudill to continue to follow the StrongSchools NC Pubic Health Toolkit and the recommendation of our local Health Department to continue wearing masks. This action will be voted on again at our next scheduled board meeting. The voting results were: Against optional masks – Mrs. Huffman, Mr. Walker and Mrs. Caudill; for optional masks – Mr. Holbrook and Mr. Kennedy.
Chief Finance Officer Mr. Seth Prevette invited Mr. Travis Hardee with Strickland Hardee PLLC to present the 2021-2021 fiscal year audit for discussion. Mr. Hardee reported that during their audit they did not identify any deficiencies in the internal control that would be considered material weaknesses.
Chairman Mr. Holbrook made the following announcements:
- January 13, 2022 – Second Grading Period Ends
- January 13, 2022 – Required Workday
- January 17, 2022 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday
- January 18, 2022 – Third Grading Period Begins
Chairman Mr. Holbrook announced the next meeting to be February 7, 2022. 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 Mr. Kennedy, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, there being no further business, the Board adjourned at 7:15 PM.