From the Boardroom

Wayne County Board of Education Meeting Recap [1-10-22]

On January 10, 2022 the Wayne County Board of Education held its regularly scheduled monthly meeting. The Board approved its Meeting Agenda after returning from Closed Session.

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Board receives A.I.M. update and information about Operation Polaris

Executive Director for Teaching & Learning, Dr. Carol Artis, updated the Board about the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s recent A.I.M. Conference. A video presentation shared at the conference was also presented, which updated the Board State Superintendent’s strategic vision, called Operation Polaris, which is a coordinated effort within the agency to better mobilize resources and expertise in response both to immediate needs resulting from the pandemic and lasting efforts to improve student outcomes long term.

Board receives Quarterly Financial Report

Chief Finance Officer, Leslie Rouse presented the WCPS Quarterly Financial Report. Rouse explained any areas that had negative balances due to funding not yet being provided or reductions in funding from the State - in large part due to the State budget being so late in being passed - and shared where budget adjustments are expected to occur.

Board hears monthly COVID-19 update & Revises masking policy

Ken Derksen, Executive Director of Community Engagement and Student & Family Support, presented the monthly COVID-19 - 2021-2022 School Year Data Update. As part of the presentation, Derksen shared exclusion data, information relative to the district’s weekly COVID-19 Dashboard, and data related to quarantine exemptions. Derksen shared that schools were being impacted by the Omicron surge and that metrics looked very much like the Delta surge in regards to primary cases, secondary cases and exclusions. Derksen shared that in the absence of a mask-mandatory policy, the Board could expect to see greater numbers of exclusions than occurred during the Delta surge due to increases in on-campus exposures and decreases in exemptions being applied due to lack of masking. Following the presentation, the Board, as required by general statutes, took action on its current mask mandate. Board Member Foucht motioned to make mask status decisions on a school by school basis, with masks optional at any school that has less than an 8% exclusion rate and masks mandatory for a minimum of two (2) weeks at any school that has an 8% or higher exclusion rate. Seconded by Board Member Leatham the motion passed 4-2. [Voting in Favor: Foucht, Leatham, Sanders, & Chair West / Voting Against: Vice-Chair Burden & Henderson]

Board approves addendum for NCDPI District & Regional Support Team partnership

In September the Board approved a MOA for two low performing schools (Carver Elementary and Eastern Wayne Elementary) to receive support from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction District & Regional Support Team. In December the district received positive feedback from the team and from the two principals, and was then offered the opportunity to expand the support partnership to a third school (Brogden Middle). Superintendent Lewis shared the support program has no cost for the district. Board Member Foucht motion to approve the partnership addendum. Seconded by Sanders the motion passed unanimously.

Board approves 2022-2023 Traditional Academic Calendar

Executive Director, Robert Yancey, presented the draft 2022-2023 Traditional Academic Calendar. Mr. Yancey explained how the calendar was developed and the legislative requirements that have to be considered for a school calendar. Yancey noted that two draft calendars were developed and presented to the schools. Essentially, one calendar had a shorter first semester which ended before the Christmas break in December. The second calendar had a more balanced number of days between semesters, but ended the first semester after the Christmas break. Yancey informed the Board that the majority of schools were in favor of the calendar he presented, ending first semester in December to allow any semester testing to occur prior to the Christmas break. Board member Foucht motioned to adopt the calendar as presented. Seconded by Burden, the motion passed unanimously.

Board hears update on Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund Grant and approves new application for Fremont Elementary project

Assistant Superintendent for Support Services, Dr. Tim Harrell, shared information about new legislation that lends additional support to school districts that have received a Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund Grant through the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, but which have not entered into the construction phase of the project. Harrell shared that in October 2020, the district received a $15 million grant to replace Fremont Elementary, which requires Wayne County to give up lotter dollars for five years plus pay a $5 million dollar match. With the new legislation, Harrell shared that WCPS is eligible to reapply for the Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund Grant, which if approved, would allow the county to receive up to $30 million, plus retain its lottery dollars - saving the county $6 million - and pay a $1.5 million match instead of a $5 million match. Harrell shared that the district would not lose its current grant received for Fremont Elementary by reapplying for the new grant. Board member Leatham motioned to reapply for the grant. Seconded by Burden the motion passed 5-1. [Voting in Favor: Foucht, Leatham, Sanders, Vice-Chair Burden, & Chair West / Voting Against: Henderson]

Board approves ESSER project architect and other ESSER projects

Assistant Superintendent for Support Services, Dr. Tim Harrell, presented information - previously shared with the BOE Facilities Committee - about the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for the Goldsboro High School and Southern Wayne High School ESSER Infrastructure Project Updates. Following the update, Vice-Chair Burden motioned to approve Pinnacle Architecture as the design firm and project manager for the two projects. Seconded by Board Member Foucht, the motion passed unanimously. The Board also unanimously approved for Envirocon, Inc. to complete an ESSER HVAC project for Dillard Middle.

Public Comment

One individual addressed the following topic with the Board during its Public Comment period:

  • Shanta Edwards (Parent) - COVID-19, buses and NEE EC teachers

Board highlights student and staff achievements

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As part of its Board Spotlights, one staff member was recognized for the following achievement:

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction Exceptional Children Educator of Excellence - Sarah Jensen (Meadow Lane Elementary District-Wide Autism teacher)

Board takes multiple actions & Approves its Consent Agenda

In addition to unanimously approving the following Purchase Orders and Contracts, the Board approved the following Medicaid Claim Agreement with NCDHHS.

Before moving to Closing Comments, the Board approved its Consent Agenda, which included student reassignment requests, a School Advisory Council Appointment, and donations.

Board Meeting Resources for the January 10, 2022 Meeting

The full January 10, 2022 Board Meeting can be viewed by clicking on Video Link.This meeting and past meeting videos can be viewed by clicking on the following Board Meeting Videos Link. The January 10, 2022 Meeting agenda and associated materials presented to the Board can be viewed by clicking on Meeting Link.

DISTRICT 1: Mr. Don Christopher West (Chair) -

DISTRICT 2: Mr. H. Len Henderson -

DISTRICT 3: Ms. Patricia A. Burden (Vice-Chair) -

DISTRICT 4: Mrs. Jennifer S. Strickland -

DISTRICT 5: Craig Foucht -

DISTRICT 6: Mr. Wade Leatham -

AT LARGE: Mr. J. Tommy Sanders III -