At the regular meeting of the Lincoln County Board of Education held on Tuesday, Jan. 12, board members discussed the Fiscal Year 2021 budget and the 2021-2022 school calendar.
At the beginning of the meeting, board chair, Mark Mullen commented that the board had received a number of emails from community members indicating that they were concerned about the safety of all students and staff, but that they felt that it was safer having children in school.
“I think it’s important for the public to know that no decision is taken lightly,” he said. “We care about everyone in the community and that we’re on top of these numbers.”
Mullen also informed the board about the Lincoln County Board of Commissioner’s agreement to provide up to $1.3 million to purchase Chromebooks for K-2 students. At their last meeting, the board of commissioners voted unanimously to provide Lincoln County Schools with up to $1.3 million from the FY2021 budget to purchase enough Chromebooks to provide laptops to each K-2 student, teachers, as needed, and replacements.
At the board of education work session held on Jan. 4, Interim Superintendent Dr. Aaron Allen asked board members to review the draft budget that he provided to them and come back with any comments or suggestions. The official budget presentation will be made to the board on Feb. 9 and will be presented to the commissioners the end of February.
During discussion on nine local positions which are set to expire and accommodating K3 class size, several references were made to the declining enrollment of LCS. Allen commented that their state funding was being cut due to reduced enrollment figures in the district and that the funding that they previously received, and things were “high on the hog.”
The 2021-2022 school calendar was discussed and then approved to stand open for 25 days to wait for community input. The proposed calendar is online at https://www.lcsnc.org. Community members can fill out an online survey on the calendar.
Board Members Joan Avery and D. Todd Wulfhorst did not approve the motion. Avery’s disapproval was due to wanting to see the calendar before approving it.
The board approved revisions to the High School Registration Guide for the 2021-2022 school year. They also approved the legislative priorities for 2021. These priorities include COVID-19 funding, flexible funding or positions to ensure student safety to address mental health needs, improve pay and benefits for school personnel, refine A-F school performance grades, increase state support for school facility construction and renovation, increase state investment in key allotment areas including academically intellectually gifted, ESL, EC students, technology and transportation, and provide opportunity to successful build programmatic offerings that are responsive to community needs.
The majority of the board approved the amendment to Policy 2230, Board Committees, which was amended to utilize work sessions instead of committees. Wulfhorst opposed. This change was proposed by Mullen at the last board meeting of 2020.
“I feel moving away from the committee structure to work sessions will move our board forward by being move collaborative and will build a better team that will be more informed,” he said in an email. “Our board committee meetings were one on the most formal in the state. By going to a round table work session, every member will be more engaged in every decision that is made. This is going to be a work in progress, but I believe we will be able to be a more productive and transparent board that operates as a team moving forward.”
In other matters, Jamie Bridges, a teacher at West Lincoln High School was recognized for receiving a $3,200 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation. This grant will provide raised beds to promote sustainable agriculture.
Innovator Award recipients for the second nine weeks of the 2020-2021 school year were Matt Hovis from East Lincoln Middle School, Bruce Fenters, a community member associated with East Lincoln Middle School, Joanna Underwood, a teacher at G.E. Massey Elementary School and Lydia Kanupp from Union Elementary School.
Union Elementary School was honored for being a nominee for the North Carolina Title I distinguished Schools Award.