New members of Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education to be sworn in on Monday

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 13, 2020

SALISBURY — Newly elected members of the Rowan-Salisbury School Board of Education will be sworn in during the board’s Monday meeting.

The only new face on the board will be former East Rowan High School baseball coach Brian Hightower, who defeated former RSS administrator Kathy McDuffie Sanborn during the November election. The two candidates sought to fill a seat currently held by Josh Wagner, who didn’t run for re-election.

Alisha Byrd-Clark and Susan Cox won re-election to the board. In Cox’s case, however, she intended to concede the race to her opponent, registered nurse Jennifer Studer. Despite Cox’s best efforts, she won anyway and has decided to serve on the board for now. Byrd-Clark defeated recent Catawba College Graduate Jonathan Barbee.

The board will also elect its next chair and vice-chair. Kevin Jones is the current chair. Travis Allen is vice-chair.

In other agenda items:

• Transportation Director Tim Beck will recommend starting a three-tier bus schedule pilot program at North schools that would allow the same drivers to serve elementary, middle and high school levels.

The change would allow the district to hire outside drivers who drive full-time and allow other staff with bus licenses, including teacher assistants, to remain in classrooms. Beck’s presentation will outline increasing efficiency, lowering the number of buses operating and increasing driver retention.

• Associate Superintendent of Operations Anthony Vann will discuss a letter from proposed charter school Faith Academy indicating an interest in purchasing Faith Elementary, which will close permanently this summer.

The charter is interested in acquiring the property for its anticipated opening at the beginning of next school year.

The district has to offer the property to the county first, but the property can follow one of several processes and end up in the hands of Faith Academy in time for the next school year.

Faith Academy Chair George Wilhelm said the academy needs some sort of agreement with regard to the school in February, though the board has backup plans for opening by the fall. The academy is up for final approval by the state Board of Education in January.

• The board will receive an update on the administration of a $26.3 million federal grant awarded to the district earlier this year. The grant is aimed at teacher incentives and furthering renewal.

• Associate Superintendent Kelly Withers will present an update on the district’s alternative education model. The district is reworking the program anticipating the closure of Henderson Independent School at the end of the school year.

The district has not released a timeline for the new model or presented options whether to move the program to a new facility or a current school.

• Withers will also present an update on COVID-19’s impact on the district.

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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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