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Board of Education meets in monthly session

By Bethany Stephens

Board Of EducationThe Board of Education met this past Monday night where they recognized Karin Borgman, a senior at East Bladen High School, for being an exchange student in Bladen during this school year.  Borgman is originally from the Netherlands and is staying with Lisa Barnes and her family here in Bladen County.  Borgman, Barnes, and a representative of the foreign exchange organization that connected the family with Borgman all spoke positively about the program and the county’s welcoming nature. 

Anthony Hinson, Director of Testing and Accountability, was recognized for receiving a state award for perfectly delivering state testing with no errors as the process is very complicated and specific.  Hinson has recently began his doctoral studies at Wingate University.

Three Career and Technical Education teachers from East Bladen High School were recognized for achieving 100% proficiency in their classes.  Cedric Matthis’ Carpentry 2 class, Mary Todd’s Nursing Fundamentals Class, and Mitchell Newkirk’s Masonry 1 and 2 classes all earned this achievement.

Next, the board listened to multiple information items.  First was an update on the county’s Driver’s Education program.  Eddie Jordan, a man whose company has been contracted to provide the county’s drivers’ education services, spoke positively of the program, its enrollment numbers, and the online enrollment process.  Along with his company’s teachers, the program hired two existing county teachers to teach within the program.  The only thing that he wants to tweaks as the program progresses is making the class sizes more consistent if possible.

Dr. Tanya Head, Assistant Superintendent, told the board of upcoming parental involvement classes.  The monthly classes will be offered to parents to educate them on various topics to help their students succeed in school. 

Anthony Hinson addressed the board with an overview of the county’s testing and assessment data. The county’s schools as a whole showed growth and are improving according to the state’s assessment tools.  Hinson lamented faults in the state legislation that hurt specific schools and that weren’t indicative of their true achievement.  One example of this was seen at East Arcadia School.  Due to a large migrant population that often has students enrolling the week of testing (and therefore haven’t been taught at the school yet) still have to be tested and included in the school’s measured growth due to being enrolled at the time.  Minus this population’s effect on the testing, East Arcadia’s students’ achievement levels were very comparable to the rest of the county’s schools.  The board discussed ways that they could helpfully try to bring the student’s scores up – especially via filling long-term substitute positions with certified teachers instead.

Sharon Penny, Finance Director, gave a financial summary to the board for informational purposes before Tanya Head gave an update on possible school consolidation plans and related information.  Head and Robert Taylor, Superintendent, both explained that the information gained from D.P.I.’s recent review was being read and considered in conjunction with other factors such as transportation needs and construction needs.  A more concrete plan will be able to be hashed out as soon as all of the data has been considered.

Following the above, the board addressed various action items. Thirty-six fundraiser requests and an occupational therapy contract were both approved.  The board also approved to submit an application to the state to open an early college in conjunction with Bladen Community College.  Though the board approved that the application be sent, the board is under no obligation at this time to actually open the school in case state funding does not pay for it. Five schools’ parent advisory councils were approved, and the board agreed to hire a school safety coordinator partnering with the sheriff’s department.  Afterward, the board proceeded to go into closed session to discuss personnel and legal issues.

Upon reconvening, the board approved Personnel Addendum Action Items as recommended by Antonia Beatty, Personnel Director.  Wilbur Smith, Board Chair, spoke positively about the schools’ recent opening session and transition into the new school year, and Robert Taylor, reminded the board that Bonnell Walker, Board Member, and Kathy Patterson would both be representing the county by attending the Regional School Boards Association Conference. After mentioning these reminders to the board, they proceeded to adjourn for the evening.  Gary Rhoda, a board member, was not in attendance at Monday’s meeting though it was not mentioned. 

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