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Rowan-Salisbury School Board will provide money to help athletics restart

SALISBURY – The Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education on Monday night agreed to help middle and high school athletic programs overcome revenue losses from delayed starts to fall sports programs.

The board funded the programs for a total of $229,000, divided into $26,500 for each high school and $10,000 for each middle school. District Athletic Director Rick Vanhoy said expenses have continued for the programs while sales revenues have stopped. Programs have needed to keep up with maintaining fields, insurance costs and paying athletic association dues.

The board approved the request to fund the schools and then approved a follow-up motion to direct administration to bring back a list of other school programs which have lost revenue due to COVID-19.

Some members thought it would not be fair if the district helped athletics but did not look into other programs which may need assistance.

The funding will come from the district’s fund balance, which Associate Superintendent of Resources Carol Herndon said is at about $6 million.

In other news from the meeting:

• Disciplinary action has dropped dramatically this semester when compared to the same time last year. Accountability Director Kelly Burgess attributed the drop in incidents to small, socially distanced classes.

Minor incidents dropped from 3,622 to 188, referrals from 2,116 to 54 and days of in-school suspension from 1,076 to 11. Lexile scores, which measure reading ability, also climbed slightly compared to this time last year, but declined compared to February 2019.

Burgess said a decline in Lexile scores over the summer is expected.

• Herndon gave a brief overview of the history of salary increases for the past five years, which mostly consisted of bonuses. Herndon also pointed out teacher salaries are creeping up because of state-funded increases.

• The board reviewed a pair of updates on student services and Kelly Education staffing.

Student Services Director Carol Ann Houpe outlined COVID-19 specific changes including two full-time nurses and one part-time nurse hired on to supplement the 14 nurses the district already employs. The district also hired 17 health room assistants to aid nurses. The new positions are all temporary one-year contracts.

Herndon reported the district’s substitute placement rate has increase from 77% at the beginning of the semester to 83% under the purview of Kelly Education. Herndon said the transition from substitute management in-house to Kelly has been smooth.

• The board also approved a $90,000 contract for literacy service Newsela. The item was originally a consent agenda on the board’s work session two weeks ago, but board member Dean Hunter requested more information on the service, citing concerns about the content used used by the service.

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