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By Erin Smith

The Bladen County Board of Education is studying a modified year-round calendar for the 2019-20 academic year. The proposed calendar shows a proposed start date of August 12, 2019, and a proposed last day of school as May 22nd, 2019.

Bladen County Schools Public Relations Director Valerie Newton said, “It is not a year-round calendar in the sense like Wake County Schools.”

She explained the modified calendar will give the Board of Education the ability to begin the school year before August 25th and to end the school year before June 5th. Newton said this will allow students to complete first semester final exams before the Christmas break rather than taking the exams after they return from break.

She also said it will also better align the school district calendar with the calendar for Bladen Community College.

Newton said a survey has been sent to the Bladen County Schools staff for their feedback regarding the modified calendar. The proposed modified year-round calendar will be reviewed further at the March meeting.

Bladen County Schools Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor also presented the Board of Education with the new Disaster Relief policy and Memorandum of Understanding for reimbursement for Bladen County Schools personnel who work in the shelters during a disaster.

“We are working with the Bladen County Commissioners on developing a Memorandum of Understanding,” said Dr. Taylor.

He explained FEMA will make reimbursements based on the Disaster Relief policy that is in place. Dr. Taylor said during Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Florence, there was no policy in place stating personnel who work in the shelters are to be compensated.

“We had to develop a policy on how employees were to be compensated,” said Dr. Taylor.

He explained that in the event the disaster is not a FEMA declared disaster, the Memorandum of Understanding will specify how the County will compensate those who work in the shelters.

“If we have a FEMA declared disaster, FEMA will reimburse us. If it is not a FEMA declared disaster, the County will reimburse us,” said Dr. Taylor.

He said currently, the County and Board of Education are working on determining how many staff are needed, for what period of time they are needed, and the rate at which they are to be reimbursed.

In other business:

*The Board heard a request from Donald Wayne to name the gymnasium at Elizabethtown Middle School in honor of former Coach Sam Boger. A committee will be created and a determination will be made whether to approve or disapprove the naming of the gymnasium. The matter will be discussed again at the March meeting.

*The Board also heard a request from Guidance Counselors Donnell Goins and Elizabeth Cox for an off-site, off campus alternative learning program. Newton said the proposal was for a program similar to the former School of Extended Hope. The School of Extended Hope closed during the 2009-10 academic year. No action was taken by the board on the matter.

*The Board approved transferring money from the Capital Outlay funds to pay school employees who worked in the shelters during Hurricane Florence and have not yet been compensated their overtime pay.

*The board approved the establishment of a school system supported education foundation. Newton said this is separate and apart from the current Bladen County Education Foundation. She explained the school district is establishing a private foundation to accept donations from private industry and local businesses.

*The board approved the audit contract with Anderson, White and Wyke.

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