The Board of Education of the Wilkes County Administrative Unit conducted a regular meeting in the Arnold and Becky Lakey Boardroom on Monday, August 1, 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 Mr. Hardin Kennedy III, Board Members Mr. Kirk Walker, Mrs. Joan Caudill, and Mrs. Jammie Jolly. Also attending were Superintendent Mr. D. Mark Byrd, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Westley Wood, Chief Academic Officer Mrs. Callie Grubb, Chief Finance Officer Mr. Seth Prevette, Chief Technology Officer Mrs. Julie Triplett, Director of Child Nutrition Mr. Marty Johnson, Director of Secondary Education/Athletics/School Safety Mr. David Johnson, Director of Transportation Mr. Eric Barker, Director of Student Services Mrs. April Marr, Director of Testing and Accountability/Cultural Arts/504/Title I Dr. Dion Stocks, Executive Director of Federal Programs/Career & Technical Education Dr. Joe Bullis, Coordinator of Advanced Programs Mrs. Angie Lamb, Public Information Officer Mrs. Morgan Mathis, Executive Administrative Assistant Mrs. Carolyn Triplett, and Wilkes County Law Enforcement.
Chairman Mr. Rudy Holbrook called the meeting to order.
On a motion by Mr. Kennedy, 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 made the following statement. "It is hard to believe that it is already time for our August board meeting, but when the calendar turns to August, this should be one of the most exciting times of year for those of us associated with education. If you need a list of reasons why, please let me share just a few with you. Our fall sports teams began practices today. Our Wilkes Early College High School teachers begin optional workdays on Wednesday, required teacher workdays one week from today, and our WECHS students begin school on August 10! Two weeks from today, roughly 60 new teachers will arrive for a welcome to our school system, and all of our teachers will return for optional teacher workdays in 16 days. Many of our custodians, bus drivers, and child nutrition staff have worked and trained through the summer to be ready for our kids to return. In four short weeks, we will have 8500 students arriving for the start of the 2022-2023 school year, expecting nothing but the best."
"I would encourage us, as adults, to think back to how excited we were for our first days of school! Students at Mount Pleasant Elementary School will have ground broken on a new school in just a few days that has been talked about for over a decade. Funds were provided in the state budget for athletic facility improvements at some of our schools. Four of our schools are currently getting major HVAC upgrades and while those don’t sound exciting, they are in the event that something tears up. Our facilities will be in much better condition at the end of this school year than they are in the beginning."
"We have eight schools that will start their school year with new principals and five principals in this room will experience their first day as a principal with students in just a few short weeks (guys, you never get that opportunity again)! Seven new school leaders are beginning their administrative careers as Assistant Principals today. These are just a few reasons why the start of school should be an exciting time for our entire county and why we, as adults, should work to continue this excitement for our students throughout the entire school year!"
"My challenge to everyone in the room for this school year is to make sure this excitement is maintained through our efforts to keep our students and staff safe on our campuses daily. We can do this by paying more 'attention to detail' in terms of student safety than ever before! We cannot allow convenience to come before safety. Things like propping doors open or letting someone walk by that we don’t know cannot be allowed. All of us have to look closer at our school campuses and let the right people know when things don't look or feel right and when we hear people make comments that make us feel uneasy! Every person in this room can do more in 2022-2023 in terms of student safety than they did last year and why would we not commit to doing so? I hope you all will join me tonight in committing to focusing more on student and staff safety in the coming year than we ever have before. Nothing will keep our students and staff excited about a school year more than knowing that school is a safe place for them so they can focus on learning while they are there! Let's all work closely together to make 2022-2023 the safest and greatest school year that our students and staff have had! I personally think they all deserve it!"
Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to recognize the Foothills 2A and Northwest 1A All-Conference teams that were recently announced following the 2022 spring sports season. Recognized athletes and coaches from Wilkes County Schools that were chosen as Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, and Coach of the Year are listed below:
- Lily Profitt from West Wilkes High School was recognized as the Foothills 2A Co-Pitcher of the Year.
- Isabelle Curry from Wilkes Central High School was recognized as the Foothills 2A Co-Pitcher of the year.
- Coach Michael Woodruff from West Wilkes High School was recognized as the Foothills 2A Softball Coach of the Year.
- Coach Matt Matthews from Wilkes Central High School was recognized as the Foothills 2A Soccer Coach of the Year.
Congratulations to all of these individuals!
Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd acknowledged Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to recognize and congratulate our new assistant principals for the 2022-2023 school year. We are excited to see them bring their educational leadership skills to fruition and make a difference in their school and community!
Mrs. Rebecca Kilpatrick will serve as the assistant principal of Mountain View Elementary School. She previously served as a K-5 teacher at Ronda-Clingman Elementary School.
Mr. Dan Prouty will serve as the assistant principal of West Wilkes High School. He previously served as a history teacher at North Wilkes High School.
Mrs. Christy Rhoades will serve as the assistant principal of Millers Creek Elementary School. She previously served as a physical education teacher at Mulberry Elementary School.
Mrs. Teresa Stone will serve as an assistant principal at Wilkes Central High School. She previously served as the instructional specialist at Ronda-Clingman Elementary School.
Ms. Jennifer Floyd will serve as the assistant principal at Central Wilkes Middle School. She previously served as the instructional specialist at Central Wilkes Middle School.
Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to announce and congratulate our new principals for the 2022-2023 school year. These administrators will help our school system to be successful for many years to come!
Mrs. Katie Reeves has served as an assistant principal at Millers Creek Elementary School, and will now serve as principal of C.B. Eller Elementary School.
Mrs. Litta Belk has served as an assistant principal at East Wilkes Middle and Mountain View Elementary Schools. She will now serve as the principal of North Wilkes Middle School.
Mrs. Amy Samples has served as assistant principal of North Wilkes Middle and East Wilkes High School. She will now serve as the principal of North Wilkesboro Elementary School.
Mrs. Jennifer Sorel has served as assistant principal of West Wilkes High School, and will now serve as principal of Wilkes Early College High School.
Mrs. Megan Kinder has served as assistant principal of Parkway Elementary School in Watauga County. She will now serve as the principal of Ronda-Clingman Elementary School.
Congratulations and best of luck to a wonderful school year!
Focus on the Curriculum was presented by Mrs. Callie Grubb, Chief Academic Officer. Mrs. Callie Grubb gave a brief description of Wilkes County School's Summer Programs.
The Read to Achieve Camp was held from June 13, 2022, through June 30, 2022. This was open to all thirteen elementary schools with bus transportation provided. Our staff included forty-one teachers along with thirty-six teacher assistants. We had 466 students from grades 1-3 participate.
The Summer Bridge-Career Accelerator was held from June 13, 2022, through June 23, 2022. This program is for rising 6th graders from our four middle schools. Bus transportation was also provided for this program. We had twenty teachers and sixteen non-school staff. Our student enrollment was ninety-seven.
During the summer, the Wilkes County Schools' Administrators Conference was held July 11-13, 2022. This year's theme was Reflect and Renew. Fifty-three of our administrators were in attendance. Several topics included safety, connections with building community, trust, and engagement. Other topics covered were the Teaching and Learning Framework, blended learning, core behavior and SEL expectations, supplemental behavior and SEL supports, the Educators' Handbook, and school law.
As we get ready for the return of school, Mrs. Grubb informed the Board of several state initiatives that will be conducted during the 2022-2023 school year. They are LETRS, the Literacy Intervention Plan, the Individual Reading Plan, Literacy Instruction Standards, English Language Development Standards, and Signs of Abuse Resources. Our local initiatives include Elementary Math Textbook Adoption/Curriculum Mapping, the High School Reading Apprenticeship Grant, the STAR Diagnostic Screener, BASE Education, and NC Check-Ins 2.0.
Chairman Mr. Rudy Holbrook asked if anyone had signed up for Public Comments. Fourteen individuals signed up to voice their concerns over the Battle of the Books Program. They were Suzanne Moore, Faith Epley, Mallory Cockrell, Joanne Schwab, Nathan Schwab, Samuel Schwab, Stormy Epley, Mark Rhoades, Sophie Shupe, Francisco Hernandez, Melody Johnson, George Shafer, Lila Hege, and Luke Hege. This topic was also under the Discussion/Report section and was addressed in further detail.
On a motion by Mrs. Caudill, seconded by Mrs. Huffman and duly carried, the minutes for June 6, 2022, were approved as presented.
On a motion by Mr. Walker, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the Personnel Report was approved as presented.
Resignation(s) and/or Retirement(s)
Sandra Burchette – Principal – East Wilkes Middle School
Retirement effective – July 1, 2022, with thirty years and two months of service
Tammy Hinson – Secretary/Bookkeeper – Traphill Elementary School
Retirement effective – September 1, 2022, with twenty-five years and four months of service
Scott Waugh – Assistant Principal – Wilkes Central High School
Retirement effective – July 1, 2022, with thirty years of service
Amy Worley – Teacher – North Wilkes Middle School
Retirement effective – July 1, 2022, with twenty-nine years of service
Recommendation of Administrative Personnel
Megan Kinder – Principal – Ronda-Clingman Elementary School
Transfer(s) of Assignment(s)
Dr. Heather Freeman – From Principal – North Wilkes Middle School
To Principal – Wilkes Central High School
Delaina Jones – From Principal – North Wilkesboro Elementary School
To Principal – C.C. Wright Elementary School
Jason Llewellyn – From Principal – C.B. Eller Elementary School
To Principal – East Wilkes Middle School
Jennifer Marlow – From Child Nutrition Assistant – Child Nutrition Department
To Child Nutrition Assistant – North Wilkesboro Elementary School
Jaime Marshall – From Teacher Assistant – Mulberry Elementary School
To Teacher Assistant – North Wilkesboro Elementary School
Dr. Mike Weddington – From Assistant Principal – Central Wilkes Middle School
To Assistant Principal – Wilkes Central High School
Litta Belk – From Assistant Principal – Mountain View Elementary School
To Principal – North Wilkes Middle School
Jennifer Floyd – From Instructional Specialist – Central Wilkes Middle School
To Assistant Principal – Central Wilkes Middle School
Rebecca Kilpatrick – From Teacher – Ronda-Clingman Elementary School
To Assistant Principal – Mountain View Elementary School
Dan Prouty – From Teacher – North Wilkes High School
To Assistant Principal – West Wilkes High School
Katie Reeves – From Assistant Principal – Millers Creek Elementary School
To Principal – C.B. Eller Elementary School
Christy Rhoades – From Teacher – Mulberry Elementary School
To Assistant Principal – Millers Creek Elementary School
Amy Samples – From Assistant Principal – East Wilkes High School
To Principal – North Wilkesboro Elementary School
Jennifer Sorel – From Assistant Principal – West Wilkes High School
To Principal – Wilkes Early College High School
Dr. Dion Stocks – From Principal – Wilkes Central High School
To Director of Testing and Accountability – Central Services
Teresa Stone – From Instructional Specialist – Ronda-Clingman Elementary School
To Assistant Principal – Wilkes Central High School
Korri Wood – From Teacher – East Wilkes High School
To Assistant Principal – East Wilkes High School
Samuel Yount – From Teacher – West Wilkes Middle School
To Assistant Principal – North Wilkes Middle School
On a motion by Mr. Kennedy, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the Exceptional Children's Department Contacts for the 2022-2023 School Year were approved as presented. These contracts are continuations of existing contracts. Each of the companies and organizations involved have been contractors with Wilkes County Schools for a number of years and have a proven record of providing high-quality services to our students with special needs.
Maxim Healthcare Services, Inc. is a new service contract for the 2022-2023 school year for the Exceptional Children's Program. Maxim will be providing nursing services for a student with special needs attending Wilkes County Schools. The service contracts approved are listed below:
Invision Services, Inc.
John E. Sexton & Associates, Inc.
Maxim Healthcare Services, Inc.
Pamela G. Edwards, LLC
The Stepping Stones Group
Wilkes Day Care Association, Inc./Wilkes Developmental Day School
Wilkes Adult Developmental Activity Program, Inc./Wilkes ADAP
Public Consulting Group
On a motion by Mr. Kennedy, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the Exceptional Children's Department Interagency Agreement for Blue Ridge Opportunity Commission, Inc. was approved as presented. Wilkes County Schools' has a longstanding relationship with BROC Head Start Programs in meeting the needs of our preschool children.
On a motion by Mr. Walker, seconded by Mr. Kennedy and duly carried, the cooperative agreement between the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services and Wilkes County Schools for the 2022-2023 school year was approved as presented. Vocational Rehabilitation Services supports our students transitioning post-graduation. This agency has a positive history of working closely with WCS in meeting the needs of our students in both pre-employment services and post-graduation.
On a motion by Mrs. Caudill, seconded by Mr. Kennedy and duly carried, the Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Social Services (DSS) was approved as presented. In 2009, Wilkes County Schools and the Department of Social Services (DSS) worked collaboratively to create a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to improve communications and services to children in our community. The memorandum is reviewed each year with principals and the DSS administrative staff.
On a motion by Mrs. Caudill, seconded by Mr. Walker and duly carried, the Budget Amendment was approved as presented.
State Public School Fund – Increase of $133,230.00
On a motion by Mrs. Jolly, seconded by Mr. Walker and duly carried, the Schedule of Fees for Wilkes County Schools was approved as presented.
On a motion by Mr. Kennedy, seconded by Mrs. Jolly and duly carried, the Surplus Items were approved as presented. General Statute 160A-266, Article 12 sets forth procedures and requirements for selling and disposing of public property. These include private negotiation and sale, sale by sealed bids, auction, upset bids, and exchanges. Private negotiation and sale may be used only with respect to personal property valued at less than ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00) for any one item or group of similar items (see attachment one).
On a motion by Mrs. Jolly, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried the School-Based Mental Health Services Contracts for the 2022-2023 school year were approved. They are listed below:
- Jodi Province Counseling, PLLC
- CareNet, Inc.
- Children's Hope Alliance
These mental health organizations provide licensed therapists to offer mental and behavioral health services to our students on school campuses. Parents/guardians can request these services for their children at all of our schools. These contracts include individual counseling sessions for students and educational and consultation services for school administrators, instructional support staff, and teachers.
Discussion and Report Item request was presented by Superintendent, Mr. D. Mark Byrd. An organization called Concerned Citizens, Wilkes Battle of the Books, reached out to Mr. Byrd and requested per Board Policy 2310 Public Participation at Board Meetings, to attend and present to the Wilkes County Board of Education. Mr. Brian Hege and Mrs. Stephanie Mayberry serving as spokespersons for this organization spoke to the Board requesting the reinstatement of the Battle of the Books program. They presented each board member with a petition that was signed by several community individuals. Mr. Byrd presented how the decision was made regarding the Battle of the Books.
- There is no denying the fact that we had parent concerns expressed about content of some of the books on the reading list. I think everyone knows that is true; however, it is not the reason this decision was made to revamp our reading program.
- When our committee began to have conversations with school staff, we learned of concerns from our people involving the decline in participation, decline in student interest, the disproportionate amount of media funds that were being used for Battle of the Books, and how the amount of violence and profanity in some of the books contradicted what we were trying to teach our students through social and emotional learning.
- When Julie Triplett, who is in charge of our media programs, met with our Principals, the majority felt that it was time we looked at a program other than Battle of the Books that could involve more students. A Principal told Mrs. Triplett that they would have voted to do away with this before now if they had been given the opportunity. I remember being shocked when Mrs. Triplett told me, "Our schools don't want to do this anymore."
- Principals discussed Quiz Bowl, which would involve more subject areas, reading fairs, Million Word challenges, Wax Museum activities, and a program called "One School, One Book" where the entire school can take part in a school-wide read. I don't think these programs can clearly be defined before we get our staff members hired and back in our buildings.
- The intent behind this decision was not to do something "to" students but to do something "for" them to find a way to involve more students. Roughly 2.4 percent of eligible students in Wilkes County Schools last year participated in Battle of the Books. This decision was not based on censorship, nor was it meant to be political. Honestly, I was very surprised by some of the things that I read in the newspaper article and editorial, as they were nowhere close to what our reasons were for making this change.
- As a Superintendent or a school board, it would be counterproductive to encourage kids not to read or take part in academic competitions, but I think we do need to look for ways to involve more kids rather than a very few.
- Some will compare this to athletic decisions, but across our state, schools are cutting JV programs and middle school teams due to a lack of interest and participation. This year, we chose to allow 6th graders to participate in athletics to confront this challenge. That just shows there are times we have to make tough decisions about change, and I think we have done this. I think we also need to support our school leaders by honoring what they request as well.
- In closing, Battle of the Books was an awesome program for many students for a long time, but I do believe it "ran its course" of effectiveness and that we need to look for opportunities to involve more students moving forward. Remember 5 out of 14 districts in the region participated in Battle of the Books last year. I do believe it is time to make this change now rather than later.
Chairman Mr. Holbrook made the following announcements:
- August 17-18, 2022 – Optional Workdays
- August 19, 2022 – Required Workday
- August 22-26, 2022 – Required Workdays
- August 29, 2022 – First Grading Period Begins
- September 5, 2022 – Labor Day Holiday
Chairman Mr. Holbrook announced the next board meeting to be September 12, 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. Byrd, seconded by Mr. Kennedy and duly carried, there being no further business, the Board adjourned at 7:00 PM to go into closed session pursuant to North Carolina General Statute 143-318.11(a)(2) to prevent the premature disclosure of an honorary degree, scholarship, prize, or similar award.
No further business was presented, upon a motion by Mr. Hardin Kennedy, seconded by Mrs. Joan Caudill, the Board of Education voted unanimously to end closed session and return to open session at 7:16 PM.
In open session, Mrs. Joan Caudill made the motion to approve the naming of the facility at Wilkes Central High School after Mr. Keith Miller. Seconding the motion was Mr. Kirk Walker. The motion and the vote were unanimous.
On a motion by Mr. Walker, seconded by Mr. Kennedy and duly carried, there being no further business, the Board adjourned at 7:21 PM.