By TOSHA BROWN
The Alexander County Board of Education met for their regularly scheduled meeting at Alexander Central Auditorium on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. The meeting was closed to the public due to the COVID-19 restrictions. New meal distribution plans along with updated school calendars was discussed.
During her report, Alexander County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Hefner updated the board regarding the school nutrition summer meal distribution program. School nutrition will continue providing meals through the summer. The program will close two sites to allow school nutrition staff to reduce staff. On Friday, June 5, residents may pick up meals for the weekend. Beginning Monday, June 8, Taylorsville Elementary and Stony Point Elementary sites will no longer be open but students from those schools may pick up lunch at any of the other sites. Also, beginning the week of June 8, schools will start four-day work weeks. This will include school nutrition staff. Every Thursday’s meal pick-up will include meals for four days (Thursday-Sunday). This will give staff a three-day weekend.
Director of Testing and Accountability Jessica Anderson presented updated calendars for Alexander Early College and Alexander County Schools. Changes were due to COVID-19 restrictions. Senate Bill 704, approved in April, mandates that school calendars include an additional five instructional days and five remote learning days. In response, both the Alexander County Schools District Calendar and the Alexander Early College Calendar were revised to reflect these requirements.
Alexander Early College will begin classes on August 5, 2020, with last day of classes on May 21, 2021. Alexander County Schools will begin classes on August 17, 2020, with last day of classes on June 3, 2021. Calendars are shown below, at the bottom of this page.
Alexander Early College Update
Alexander Early College principal Jason Evans presented growth and performance data for the early college. Three-year trend data shows the school started with a B but has maintained an A for the past two years. Mr. Evans compared the early college data to other early colleges in the region, reporting the overall average comparison for growth at 2.73 for two years, which is higher than Challenger, Caldwell, and Wilkes early colleges.
Mr. Evans highlighted the Early College Cup academic and athletic competition, where AEC placed second against four other regional early colleges. He also thanked Alexander Central School for including AEC students in athletics at ACHS.
Other highlights included AEC’s total scholarship awards to graduating seniors, exceeding $3,000,000. Forty of the 41 graduating seniors plan to continue college classes.
Student Success Center Update
Student Success Center coordinator Dr. Lisa Harrington began her presentation by highlighting a partnership with Taylorsville Savings Bank. They provided a financial literacy program and a business lunch for the students at McLindon’s Restaurant. Students dressed in business attire for lunch and enjoyed the event.
The center’s overall goal is to assist students in becoming productive citizens by providing positive support for self-image, assisting with college enrollment, completing shadowing experiences, and attaining employment or military enlistment. Five students graduated in January 2020 and eight will graduate in June 2020.
Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Hefner opened her report by discussing the facility updates, including the updates to the Alexander Central High School baseball field. New lights and a batter’s eye have been installed. She thanked Chris Campbell and the maintenance department, the athletic boosters, and Coach Pete Hardee.
Dr. Hefner announced two upcoming activities. Principal summative evaluations will be finalized by June 10. The auditorium’s sound system will be upgraded in the coming weeks. Work is scheduled to begin next week, but completion could be held up due to two speakers being on backorder.
Alexander County Schools is among the 18 local education agencies (LEAs) recently awarded Farm-to-School Rapid Response funding by the Farm to School Coalition of North Carolina. The funding is intended to support urgent needs and long-term capacity building for local food purchasing for school meals and local food educational programming in ways that increase the skills, knowledge, and connection to local foods for children and their families. The School Nutrition Program was awarded $4,000 in Farm-to-School Rapid Response funding.
Dr. Hefner announced that a guidance document for re-entry to school will be released next Thursday. Each school system is required to have multiple plans to begin the 2020-2021 school year.
School Board members presented committee updates. Scott Bowman reported from the Transportation Committee. The committee has determined a need for a mobile refrigerated unit. They will be purchasing a truck for the school nutrition department.
Harry Schrum reported from the Facilities Committee meetings. The discussion has been focused on a new cafeteria, office area, and a new gym. The estimated cost for this project came in over $7,000,000 which would require all half-cent sales tax and lottery money. The committee is looking at alternative plans that include renovating the cafeteria, relocating the office, and a new gym. They will continue to meet and finalize plans.
Matt Cooksey attended training regarding remote meetings. He shared that board members should do roll-call voting. He continues to say that employee hearings can be held remotely if the employee agrees.
Cindy Sellers shared that the Teacher of the Year Committee will be conducting interviews soon, due to the regional adherence to the original deadline for district winner submissions.
CTE Project House still up for bids
The Career and Technical Education house project is complete. The house is ready to sell and will be open for bids with a minimum bid of $175,000. The house is located at 421 Alexander Acres Drive. It is approximately 1,600 square feet on a 0.965 acre lot. It is a brick home with vinyl trim and has three bedrooms and two baths. Anyone interested may contact Susan Gantt at Alexander Central High School. The due date for bids will be June 15. A video is available on school social media and the listing will be available on Zillow soon.
Chief Financial Officer Sharon Mehaffey presented one new policy and 5 policy revisions for the first reading. They will be brought back for a second reading in July. All Alexander County Board Policies are available for review by the public at www.alexander.k12.nc.us or the Alexander County Board of Education Office on Liledoun Road, Taylorsville. The board also voted to approve the continuing budget resolution for 2020-2021 until a formal budget is adopted. This resolution allows the school system to maintain expenditures at the same level as the 2019-2020 budget.
CTE Plan Presented
The school board members voted to approve the 2020-2021 Career and Technical Education local plan. Director Susan Gantt presented information regarding operations and funding. Three administrators and one administrative assistant operate the program at both middle schools and the high school. The program employs 24 teachers, four at the middle school level, and 20 at the high school level. The program operates using mainly state and federal funds, with one position funded locally.
Gantt reported a new local planning process which is due to the transition to the Perkins V plan. The new process has five required parts: Data Indicators of Performance, Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment (CLNA), Local Application Narratives, Budgeting, and Approval. She will provide an update after the plan is submitted.
The next meeting of the Board of Education will be held on Tuesday, July 14, at 6:00 p.m. The meeting will remain closed to the public, but can be viewed live on the school’s YouTube channel. Changes will be posted on the school system website.
School Calendars approved June 2