In marathon meeting, school board covers contracts, construction, finances, device sales

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 10, 2020

SALISBURY – A four-and-a-half hour meeting of the Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education on Monday saw the district revisit projects that have fallen by the wayside, the ongoing technology sale, some new contracts and and an ongoing upset bid process for the sale of old devices.

RSS Director of Accountability Kelly Burgess made a presentation to the board on the creation of a new assessment platform for renewal, including contracting with a pair of companies to do so.

Burgess said the district needs to deliver short, on-demand assessments online, which it terms “verifiers,” and came to the conclusion it needed to contract with two companies to do so. The priorities for the assessment were identified from surveys of school leadership.

The goal would be taking curriculum tailored to a student and delivering the assessment  after that student demonstrates mastery to a teacher.

“It can’t be a week to turn around these results,” Burgess said. “The teachers need to know immediately, because we need to be modifying, changing curriculum for individual students in real time. The goal is for the system to be used by all schools by the 2021-2022 school year.”

The education companies are Instructure and Certica, and the services will cost the district $211,000 for the next three years. The district already has a partnership with Certica for traditional assessment services, and Burgess described the change as a “pivot” to the board.

The board agreed to add the contracts to the June 29 meeting consent agenda.

The board also revisited adding an indoor batting cage at Carson High School, a project that fell by the wayside during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project involved fundraising by parents of the school’s softball and baseball teams. The project scope was expanded to include bathrooms.

The proposed funding for the project would be $21,400 from raised funds and $22,000 from the school’s upcoming capital funding. Carson is the only high school the district is planning to request additional funding to complete a project of this nature.

Board of Education member Josh Wagner raised the concern that county commissioners could question whether that funding is warranted given financial circumstances going into next year’s budget. Board chair Kevin Jones agreed there is concern whether there will be capital funding from the county, though he thinks the board should encourage fundraising.

The addition of the bathrooms to the facility added the $22,000 to the original cost. The board ultimately approved moving forward with allowing the $21,400 to be put toward the project’s batting cages. Jones said the board could figure out the future of the project and possible funding for the bathrooms at a later meeting.

Other news from the meeting:

  • Superintendent Lynn Moody gave an update on field trips, saying teachers were advised to return money for field trips canceled due to COVID-19, and the district is currently not approving any field trips.
  • The board also received an update on the upset bid for the sale of the district’s outgoing devices, which jumped from just below $3 million in the first round of bids to $3.8 million in the third round. The bidding process continues until only one bidder remains.
  • North Rowan Middle School had its school renewal plan approved by the board, including strategies to improve math and reading growth, focus on teaching the whole child and to implement Capturing Kids Hearts, which has become a popular program for schools in the district.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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