By: Wil Petty Staff Writer email@example.com
August 12, 2013
The Ashe County Board of Education faced a hard reality in its monthly meeting Monday about the future of the district following the cuts in the state budget for the 2013-14 school year.
Phyllis Yates, associate superintendent of business and operations said that the school system will be OK for this year, but the following years are questionable.
“Next year (the state) is proposing a big cut,” Yates said to the board. “We as a school system have got to work real hard to make sure that doesn’t happen, because a lot of negatives will come with that for our school system, for our employees, but most importantly for our students.”
State funding has decreased due to the class size ratios in the county. Ashe County High School saw the largest change from having one teacher for 26.64 students, to having one teacher for 29 students.
Yates said Small County Supplemental Funding (SCSF) has been a saving grace for the school district in regards to hiring teachers and keeping class sizes down. The funding was left untouched this year by the General Assembly.
Approximately 10 teaching jobs were saved this year thanks to the supplemental funding.
“We took a cut, more than what we had anticipated,” Yates said.
The original projected discretionary cuts were $796,096, but preliminary cuts are $1,093,305.
Yates said the county commissioners were “very supportive,” in helping the school system through the state cuts.
Teacher salaries were also discussed, noting current teachers with advanced degrees will not be losing their advanced degree pay, as they are grandfathered in. That policy, adopted by the state legislature, will start for new teachers entering the 2014-15 school year.
Ashe County High School Principal Jason Krider presented the ACT results from the 2012-13 junior class before the board.
“The good news is we improved in all of the areas from the previous year,” Krider said to the board. “The previous year was the first time juniors across the state took (the ACT).”
Ashe County students met or exceeded the state average in three of the four categories. Students were six percentage points higher in algebra, but one percentage point below average in reading.
Thirteen percent of Ashe County students met all four ACT benchmark scores, determining if a student is ready for college level work. While that number did meet the state average, Krider said the figure was “unfortunate.”
“Obviously there’s a lot of work to do there,” Krider said. “We’re certainly not content being the state average. We want to be well above the state average, we need to be.”
The board discussed changes in Policy 4326 which was originally adopted to drug test athletes. The policy now includes students who obtain a parking permit.
According to the new code “Random testing will be done on a percentage basis of at least five percent of all athletes and five percent of students operating/parking a motor vehicle on campus annually.”
Board member Dr. Lee Beckworth had concerns about the random testing relating to student permit holders who are also athletes.
“You make sure the student athletes that are drivers don’t have a higher chance of getting picked,” he said.
Marcia Elledge, classified coordinator of the Human Resources Department said there would be two separate lists.
Ashe County High School Athletic Director Marc Payne said that if an athlete is pulled from the student driver list, they will face the same punishments as both a driver and athlete. The policy revision passed unanimously.
Another revision of policy was brought before the board, dictating student searches.
Concerns were raised by board member Polly Jones over Policy 4342, which conducts “personal searches.” The code said in cases of a student being frisked, it must be done “in private by a school official of the same gender and with an adult witness present, when feasible.”
“I think you should always have an adult there,” Jones said. “Not when feasible, but always.”
The amended revision passed unanimously.
The attendance policy was brought back up for discussion by Superintendent Dr. Todd Holden.
Currently, the rule for attendance is making up 45 minutes for every 90 minutes missed. Holden wants to return to a time-for-time rule, saying the current requirements are “watered down” and he questioned if the policy is preparing students for the future.
In other action taken by the board:
• The board approved trips to Washington D.C. for the three elementary schools. All three trips occur in April 2014.
• Coaching assignments for Ashe County High and Middle schools were unanimously approved.
• The board approved of a $58,500 bid to William C. Reynolds Company in Hickory to replace 520 feet of underground heat piping at the Ashe Early Learning Center.
• At the board meeting were: board members Polly Jones, Terry Williams, Dr. Lee Beckworth, Vice Chairman C.B. Jones and Chairman Charlie King. Superintendent Dr. Todd Holden attended his first meeting as the head of the school system.•