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Schools back educational forest plan

Staff Writer

The Lincoln County Board of Education unanimously approved the drafting of a letter showing support for the Mountain Island Educational State Forest at Wednesday’s meeting.
Superintendent Sherry Hoyle will draft the letter, which will then be up for approval.
Laura Shidal, supervisor of the forest, presented board members with the efforts being made to fund the project, which will include building necessary facilities for the site to be accessible by school groups and the general public.
The forest, which straddles Lincoln and Gaston counties in Mount Holly, will feature classes and exhibits designed to educate students, forestry professionals and members of the public about the importance of the health of North Carolina’s forests, according to the LEARN NC website.
Shidal said the programs will be “outdoor classrooms” and will be led by trained education rangers. Additionally, there will be no charge for the programs, which will also be open to the public.
Board Chairman Ed Hatley said he had the opportunity to hear Shidal speak to kids about the project, saying it will “definitely benefit our students.”
Board member Bob Silver added that it is a “tremendous initiative” and the “perfect venue.”
The Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District Board is working with a group from the North Carolina Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts to garner support and present letters to legislators.
According to agenda documents, Shidal’s requested letter of support will endorse the idea of providing funding to the forest “so that the students in Lincoln County will have this educational opportunity.”
Also on the agenda, board members unanimously approved one-time funding for SMART Boards for Lincoln County Schools classrooms. As a result of the vote, every kindergarten through fifth-grade classroom in the county that doesn’t already have one will now have a digital white board.
Hatley said he wanted to recognize board member Candy Burgin for her efforts in bringing the idea before the board.
In other school board action at Wednesday’s meeting:
Board members unanimously approved the proposed 2012-2013 school calendar, to stand open for 25 days.
Board members unanimously approved a shared-energy plan.
Board members unanimously approved of a date to review Hoyle’s self-assessment. She will present her self-evaluation at the Feb. 20 committee meetings at 6 p.m. Her evaluation by board members will be carried out on May 20.
Board members unanimously approved a “qualified observer list,” as presented by Matt Stover, assistant superintendent for human resources at Lincoln County Schools.
Board members conducted a closed session on a personnel-related matter, but no action was taken.
Board members approved personnel recommendations.
Board member Clayton Mullis expressed his disappointment with the recent 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling banning sectarian prayer at government meetings.

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