School board to receive update on bringing elementary students back full time

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 11, 2020

By Carl Blankenship

SALISBURY — Rowan-Salisbury Schools Superintendent Lynn Moody will speak to the school board Monday on results of a survey about moving to plan A for elementary students.

The survey indicated the preferred time to return to plan A would be in January. Middle and high schools were surveyed as well in order to prepare for future changes.

There were several concerns that resulted from the plan A survey, which would involve all elementary students going to classes on the same days and for a greater number of days, including social distancing on transportation, cleaning processes, lunch and class transitions. There were also questions about increased time for health screenings because of a larger number of students in the building and the possible impact of flu season.

Respondents also expressed a desire for time to prepare and concern about increased exposure. But there also was concern about remaining in plan B that included teacher burnout, lack of student engagement, attendance and decreased enhancement.

There have been some positives of the current plan for students, which were pointed out in the survey. Those positives include drastically decreased behavioral problems, small class sizes and safety. Twenty-three schools indicated wanting to return to only four days in-person per week.

Other nearby districts are already planning returns. Kannapolis City Schools will return K-5 elementary students five days a week on Nov. 2 and Cabarrus County will send back elementary students to schools under plan B on Oct. 19.

As of Oct. 7, there were a total of 13 COVID-19 positives in the district, which were split between six staff and seven students.

Monday’s meeting will be held virtually at 4 p.m. and can be viewed using the meeting software Zoom using the following link:

Attendees can also dial into the meeting by phone with one of the following numbers:

• 301-715-8592

• 312-626-6799

• 9290-205-6099

• 253-215-8782

• 346-248-7799

• 669-900-6833

The webinar identification number is 941-1480-2235.

In other items on Monday’s agenda:

• The board will view results for the superintendent survey.

Most of about 2,300 people who responded to the survey are parents and about 70% of respondents agreed the superintendent should have experience as a principal and classroom teacher. Only 33.67% thought the new hire needed prior superintendent experience, though 63.13% said the candidate should have associate or assistant superintendent experience.

Most respondents ranked all the qualities for a new hire — visionary, transparent, people skills, innovative, equitable, community builder, communicator, collaborative and caring and business-minded — as very important.

• The board will receive an update on the $26 million federal grant it was awarded two weeks ago. The grant will be paid out over three years and support funding things like lab school models, signing bonuses for at-risk schools, teacher bonuses, scholarships, recruiting and incentives.

• The board will view a proposed closure study of Henderson Independent School. The school, built in 1920, is in a state of disrepair and serves a small number of students enrolled in the district’s alternative program. Administration has proposed moving the program to a virtual and blended model based out of other schools in the district.

The board would need to schedule a public hearing on a possible closure and then make a final decision at another meeting.

Associate Superintendent of Operations Anthony Vann will also show the board updated figures on the closure studies for Faith and Enochville elementary schools. Public hearings on the closure of those two schools will be held later this month.

• Chief Technology Officer David Blattner will give the board an update on the district-wide device collection. There are about 3,700 outstanding devices in the collection process.

• The board will receive an update on possible financial losses of programs beside athletics due to COVID-19. Four programs are set to be discussed, including theater, JROTC, band and Future Farmers of America.

• Director of Construction Christopher Nuckolls will bring a recommendation for the board to contract with Jani-King to provide COVID-19 related custodial for the schools for $444,821.58. The district is seeking another vendor because Kelly Educational Staffing was not able to provide enough additional janitorial staff and had to be assisted by RSS staff.

• Associate Superintendent of Schools Kelly Withers will present an enrollment update to the district, including 669 entries into the district and 1158 withdrawals. Enrollment, as expected, has increased to 18,447, up a few hundred students from an enrollment report in September.

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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