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Rowan-Salisbury school board extends superintendent’s contract

By Maggie Blackwell

For the Salisbury Post

SALISBURY — The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education voted Monday night to extend Superintendent Lynn Moody’s contract through 2022.

After a closed session, board Vice Chairwoman Susan Cox made a motion to extend  Moody’s contract. The board voted unanimously in favor of it.

“We very much appreciate the work Dr. Moody is doing to transform our system,” Cox said.

Chairman Josh Wagner agreed.

“We have many things we are proud of and some things we aren’t so proud of, but hopefully we’ll see some major changes to our system,” Wagner said. “I, too, appreciate her hard work.”

Early College teacher Jennifer Bain was recognized as Outstanding Mathematics Teacher for 2018 by the N.C. Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Nine area elementary schools received Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Grants to encourage better nutrition: China Grove, Hanford Dole, Hurley, Isenburg, Knollwood, Koontz, Landis, North Rowan and Overton.

Moody reminded the board that the N.C. Independent Colleges and Universities association will host a Digital Learning Research Symposium here Thursday and Friday.

Kristi Rhone, RSS human resources director, proposed credentials for renewal-pathway teachers. The requirements include a college degree, relevant work experience, 2.5 GPA, employability to work in a renewal district or charter school, and completing orientation.

A renewal teacher would have a one-year contract.

The board passed the measure unanimously.

Assistant Superintendent  Anthony Vann presented a right-of-entry agreement for subcontractors to have access to Cleveland Elementary School as students prepare to move to the new West Elementary. The county plans to reuse part of the building for a west branch of the public library.

The measure passed.

Crystal Merck presented “Mission Possible” reading pledge cards, which will be completed by every student and staff member in the school district. The pledge cards will commit the signer to reading goals this school year.

Pledges can be in the number of books or number of hours weekly or daily. Each school will decide how to display the cards.

Merck distributed cards to school board members and encouraged them to participate. Teachers will check progress on pledges at checkpoints during the year.

Merck said her staff will video people such as firefighters fulfilling their pledge cards.

School system CFO Carol Herndon discussed fund balances. The targeted fund balance is between 8 percent and 10 percent of annual funding. The target fund balance for RSS’ operational budget is $2.8 million to $3.6 million.

At this time, the operational fund balance is $4.2 million. It was $5 million at the beginning of the year.

The capital fund balance right is $1.9 million; it was $1.1 million at the first of the year. This includes $1.7 million earmarked for carryover projects, leaving a balance of $200,000 for unbudgeted needs.

Herndon said the system audit for 2017-18 is substantially complete and auditors will make a final report at the Nov. 26 meeting.

Vann presented a priority list of heating and air conditioning needs. The list includes 20 schools as well as district controls and totals more than $8 million.

Responding to questions from Wagner, Vann said the work would take a total of one year to complete if approved and funded.

In response to board member Dean Hunter, Vann identified he used the criteria of age, condition and how many people were affected to develop the list. Smaller units that may be old, he said, but serve only one mobile unit, for example, were not included.

Wagner asked if this would be Vann’s top priority if the school board has a windfall of money.

“Yes, this is critical,” Vann said. “Some parking lots are in poor condition, and most critical roofs have been repaired or replaced. Heat and air go to the learning environment. It’s more important to the student experience than a parking lot.”

Wagner said the county may offer some money toward this effort. By consensus, the board agreed to reach out to the county and report back at the November meeting.

The Woodleaf Elementary School building is not planned for future use. Vann proposed a plan to declare it surplus property, demolish the building, clean the lot, and sell the land.

Wagner wondered if the county might be interested in the building. Vann responded that the building is a greater liability standing than it would be if it were demolished.

The school system is scheduled to receive keys to the building on Nov. 20. Students will leave their old schools for Christmas break and return to their new school in the new year. New furniture will arrive on three dates in November and December.

Hunter asked if an open house is planned so children are familiar with their new school. Vann said the staff is in the process of planning that.

There is a possibility that school staff will need to move items from the old schools to the new one the last week of Christmas break. Both Hunter and Wagner asserted the need to pay teachers if they are required to work over Christmas break.

“We understand teachers work all the time, but if we are going to require them to help move on given days during Christmas break, we need to compensate them,” Wagner said.

As to declaring the building surplus, the board agreed to table the decision until November.

In the public-comment period, RSS parent and former employee Karen Franks questioned the renewal-pathway plan for teacher qualification.

“I’m concerned about it’s not being a four-year degree,” she said. “What kind of pedagogical experience will they have? If they’re not certified, will they be paid on the same scale? How stringent and extensive will the orientation be? What kind of orientation can replace a college degree?”

Rhone said some positions would require a four-year degree while others would not.

In the course of the discussion, it became clear that different board members had received different copies of the proposal, with some stating a four-year degree would be required and some not specifying four years.

Under the advice of system attorney Ken Soo, the board voted to reconsider the measure at the next meeting. At that time, Rhone will present additional details.



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