Rescheduled RSS school board retreat will be Tuesday

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, January 29, 2022

SALISBURY — The Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education on Tuesday will hold its annual retreat a few weeks later than initially planned and talk through a seminal document for the district.

The meeting originally scheduled for Jan. 18 was rescheduled due to hazardous road conditions after snowfall from the prior weekend had turned into ice on local roads. Tuesday’s meeting will begin at 8 a.m. in the third-floor innovation center at Wallace Education Forum.

The main purpose of the meeting is to discuss dozens of strategies to reach goals outlined in the district’s upcoming strategic plan. Here are a few of the items the board will discuss:

• Create a student advisory committee for the superintendent and administration.

• Create classroom and home libraries of high interest and culturally relevant materials in partnership with the community.

• Use a kindergarten screening to focus support for students before they begin school.

• Continue the competency-based learning pilot based at Morgan Elementary School and add a learning management system that supports personalized learning.

• Provide professional development for staff on social emotional learning.

• Implement an early warning system for students at risk of dropping out.

• Implement four-year plans at high schools.

• Expand paid internship and apprenticeship opportunities through industry partners.

• Align course work with community needs.

• Create advancement pipelines for staff.

• Create a teacher advisory committee to the superintendent

• Create internal capacity-building programs such as teacher assistant to teacher programs, partnering with local higher learning institutions and focus on hiring more Hispanic and Latino staff.

• Audit district’s energy use.

• Review district expenditures for good return on investment.

• Develop a marketing and communication plan.

• Create a parent academy and parent advisory committee to the superintendent.

The administration has been working on the plan for a full year. Superintendent Tony Watlington identified the plan as one of his main priorities when he started working for the district just more than a year ago.

The plan is aimed at taking the district through 2027 and making measurable gains on a long list of goals ranging from academics to interpersonal skills and operational efficiency. It has been created with a large steering committee and consultants, including the nonprofits Bellwether Education Partners, Research Triangle Institute and N.C. State’s Friday Institute for Educational Innovation.

The district has also worked with six independent consultants on the project from academia and education firms.

The original retreat agenda included a recommendation to resume required masking in schools due to the surge of the omicron variant. The board took up the issue at the board meeting last week and unanimously voted against bringing back masking.

During that meeting, the board veered into discussing the district’s quarantine policy as well. Board chair Dean Hunter also requested quarantines be added to the retreat discussion, but it’s not listed on the agenda.

The board has a closed session to discuss personnel matters and information subject to attorney client privilege on the agenda.

Editor’s note: This article was corrected at 10:51 a.m. on Sunday to state the correct day the retreat is occurring. It will be Tuesday. We apologize for the error.

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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