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Bladen Board of Education Meets

By: Bethany Stephens

The Board of Education met Monday night for their monthly session where, after briefly approving the minutes and agenda, giving the invocation, and saying the Pledge of Allegiance, the board went into a lengthy closed session to discuss personnel, a teacher appeal request, student transfers, and legal issues. Brenda Clark, a community member, was scheduled to address the board before the closed session but was not present.

Upon coming back into open session, Sharon Penny, Finance Director, reported good news concerning increased Capital Outlay Funds and gave the board a financial summary for the month of June. Robert Heavenridge, School Support Service Coordinator, provided maintenance updates which included the recent purchase of a new dump truck. Additionally, Heavenridge told that plumbing that had been previously bid out for $8500 at Elizabethtown Primary had been fixed in-house for $2135. Worn and unsafe bush hogs and old air conditioning units are needing to be replaced soon, and roofing at Plainview Primary School has been completed.

Dr. Reida Roberts and Sharon Penny spoke with the board about seeking Medicaid benefits because they had been told that, through proper documentation and partially in conjunction with the free and reduced lunch program, the county can possibly be eligible to receive $16,000 in Medicaid funds. A sales tax referendum was discussed with Valerie Newton, PR/Grant Director. Newton explained that a request to increase sales taxes in 2010 and 2014 to generate income to help fund facility needs had been voted against when put on the ballot in the past, but the County Commissioners would like to put the issue on the ballot again in 2016 for the purpose of lowering property taxes. If voted for in 2016, this shift would take the financial burden away from the county’s property owners alone, and the difference in revenue would be made up for by the sales tax.

A certified personnel list and a beginning teacher support program handbook were both approved as recommended by Antonia Beatty, Personnel Director. Pay dates for 2015-16 and two fundraiser requests were approved. Amy Stanley, Child Nutrition Director, recommended the board approve Breakfast in the Classroom for grades K-8. By serving breakfast in the classrooms, Stanley said that the students who were tardy (at no fault of their own) would still be able to have breakfast. There was some concern about clean up possibly interrupting instruction time, but the board still approved the recommendation for the next school year. Contracted services for the Drivers Education Program and partnership agreements with NC New Schools were also both approved.

A signing bonus for new middle and high school math teachers was approved. The bonus will be given to eligible teachers in three different checks over their first few months of employment – one $2500 check and two $1000 checks. A Tar Heel Middle Parent Advisory Council was approved, and an updated Immunization and Health Requirements for School Admission Policy was postponed until the next meeting.

The first meeting for all of Bladen County Schools’ personnel was announced and will be held on July 15th at 8:00 a.m. On August 6th at 3:00 p.m., the board will hold a retreat to discuss school consolidation. Following brief discussion on the time of their upcoming retreat, the board adjourned for the evening.

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