School board to discuss East’s virtual academy, calendar, salaries

Published 12:10 am Sunday, December 8, 2019

SALISBURY — The Rowan-Salisbury School Board on Monday will have a second discussion about a virtual academy at East Rowan, High School, consider options for a district calendar for the 2020-2021 school year, discuss options for raising salaries of school nutrition staff and elect a chairman.

But the school board is not scheduled to discuss the potential closure of Overton Elementary or renovation of Knox Middle School.

At a Nov. 18 meeting, the school board halted debate about closing Overton in conjunction with a Knox Middle School renovation. That decision came as hundreds of people filed into the board’s meeting and overflow rooms, with many voicing their opposition. At the time, School Board Chairman Josh Wagner said the matter could be considered as soon as December and responded to Post questions by saying “wait and see what’s on the agenda.”

While the Knox-Overton discussion didn’t appear on the agenda distributed before Monday’s meeting, it could be added before the board approves its agenda.

Wagner did not return a request for comment last week about whether the Knox-Overton discussion would be discussed.

Items on Monday’s agenda include:

• A second discussion about a proposal called the Virtual Academy at East Rowan, which would take advantage of renewal flexibilities and offer students to options to obtain a diploma completely online.

One goal of the program, said East Rowan Principal Tonya German, would be to entice home-schoolers back to the public school system for classes. Existing East Rowan or other Rowan-Salisbury Schools students could also take some of their classes online.

German said the online and blended diploma paths offered through the Virtual Academy at East Rowan would be capped at 400 students initially with each section capped at 40 students, too.

Teachers would direct the classes and there would be no “canned program,” she said.

School board members in November asked East Rowan staff to return Monday with details about how students in the Virtual Academy could participate in athletics and how student transfers from schools elsewhere in the district would be handled.

• Presentation of three proposals for a 2019-2020 calendar.

A calendar committee drafted three calendar options, two of which provide a 10-week summer. A third provides an eight-week summer for students.

In the first option, Calendar A, students have a 10-week summer, end the first semester and complete courses before Christmas break and finish school before Memorial Day. That means 177 student days and 1,062 hours. In Calendar A, there’s a teacher work day on Nov. 3 to allow schools to be used as polling places. There are 12 required and six options teacher workdays.

In the second option, Calendar B, students also receive a 10 week summer, end their first semester before Christmas break and finish school before Memorial Day. There’s also a teacher work day on Nov. 3. But Calendar B includes fewer total teacher work days and weeklong breaks for students at the end of the first and third quarter. Calendar B also includes four track-out days, during which classified employees would not be able to work or get paid. Like the first calendar, there would be 177 student days and 1,062 hours.

The third option, Calendar C, features the shortest summer break, eight weeks. Though, it also ends the first semester before Christmas break and the school year before Memorial Day as well as holding a teacher work day on Nov. 3. Significant difference between the prior two calendars include a two-week break at the end of each quarter and 15 track-out days. Calendar C includes 171 student days and 1,026 hours.

• Further consideration of a pay raise for school nutrition staff.

Following a presentation on Nov. 18, the school board asked staff to return with data about aligning pay rates with neighboring districts. To do that, there needs to be a 4.5% salary increase for school-based nutrition staff in addition to an average increase of 30 cents per hour for managers and 47 cents per hour for manager trainees and assistants.

Lisa Altman, RSS’ school nutrition director, says the raises are necessary, in part, because of recent turnover and that it’s tough to retain staff due to the physical demands of the job and opportunities elsewhere.

• The board will receive 2019-2020 renewal plans for Mt. Ulla and West Rowan elementary schools.

• The board will elect a chairman and vice chairman.

Currently, Wagner is chair. Susan Cox is vice chair.