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Five CTE teachers recognized by Bladen Board of Education

By Bethany Stephens

The Board of Education met this Tuesday for their monthly session where they recognized five Career and Technical Education teachers and their classes for earning 100 percent proficiency. Mitchell Newkirk of East Bladen High School, Brandy Wilkins of East Bladen High School, Debra Kinlaw of West Bladen High School, Gail Marsh of West Bladen High School, and Mary Todd of West Bladen High School all had classes that earned the 100 percent proficiency rating. Additionally, Cedric Matthis, a now retired teacher from East Bladen, had a class that also earned the recognition.

In related news, Bridget White, Instructional Management Coordinator for the CTE Program, later presented the CTE department’s testing data from last spring. The program earned an overall proficient rating with one more class scoring at the proficiency level than the precious semester.

Kimbrie Esters, who is the dropout prevention coordinator, briefly gave an overview concerning the county’s migrant students programs. The program employs six tutors to help the county‚Äôs approximately 330 migrant students keep up with instruction since the students frequently relocate. There is also a three week summer program for the students to serve the same purpose.

Anthony Hinson, who is the testing and accountability coordinator, had to miss this month’s meeting due to surgery, so Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor presented an overview of the county’s accountability and growth scores. The county made improvements or stayed at level. Clarkton School of Discovery was the first Bladen County School to have achieved a B in this area. Ten of the thirteen schools met or exceeded growth. Twelve of the thirteen schools earned higher or comparable scores to last year (with the majority improving), and two of the schools that still make a D only missed earning a C by one point. The county had no schools to earn an F rating this year.

Public Relations Director Valerie Newton gave the board links to all of the positive mentions that Bladen County Schools have had in the news during the past month. In an effort to eliminate paper waste and to make it easier for the board to view the articles, Newton is now presenting these each month via BoardDocs instead of via PDF or paper copy.

The board approved giving bus drivers a $1 per hour pay increase and a bimonthly $25 pay incentive to drivers with perfect attendance as recommended by Finance Director Sharon Penny. The funds for the increases will come from $75,039 allocated to the county from the state for this purpose. Penny mentioned that due to loss of enrollment, the board will have the funds from running three less busses. As the year progresses and final numbers are received, the board will consider raising the drivers’ pay more.

Two Exceptional Children Contracts as recommended by Cheryl White-Smith, EC director, were approved, and Special Custom Policy Updates that were postponed last month were postponed again to be voted on next month.

An overnight field trip for West Bladen High School’s HOSA club to attend their state conference and 14 fundraisers from across the county were both approved.

The board then went into closed session to discuss personnel, student transfers, and legal matters.

Upon reconvening into open session, the board approved personnel action items as recommended by Personnel Director Antonia Beatty.

Taylor told the board about several items of interest. Consent agendas that would consolidate monthly action items such as fundraiser and field trip requests will hopefully allow the board meetings to move more smoothly and efficiently. Taylor and some of the other administration attended an opioid conference at Bladen Community College which addressed the increasing opioid epidemic across the country and, specifically, ways to help Bladen County’s efforts to address the problem.

The school board will present a school facilities proposal (that will inadvertently affect how the schools will be consolidated in the future) at the County Commissioners meeting on September 18th. At last month’s Board of Education meeting, the Board of Education discussed presenting a plan that would involve building a new K-8 school to house Plainview and Tar Heel. Though this plan is the only consolidation plan supported by the communities, the Commissioners did not approve it. So, the Board of Education agreed to present three options to the Commissioners – one like their previous proposal, another to build two new K-8 buildings (one to house Plain View, Tar Heel, and Dublin and one to house East Arcadia, Booker T. Washington, and Clarkton School of Discovery), or a third plan that is open to the commissioners’ suggestions. The Board of Education can reassign and consolidate within their current facilities as they see fit, but they can only build new facilities with the commissioners’ approval. The board hopes that their previous plan will be supported since it is the only one that has community support.

Three county employees will attend the Sandhills Leadership Academy through the Regional Consortium that will set them up to work as assistant principals and other related positions. Taylor also wants to set up school visits for the Board Members and will extend the invitation to the County Commissioners as well.

During the Chair’s Report several members asked for updates on various maintenance projects – especially mowing concerns at multiple schools.

Lastly, Board chair Vinston Rozier presented Taylor with the E. Floyd Martin Service Award on behalf of the Bladen Central High School Alumni Association. Taylor voiced his gratitude for being given the award, especially since it was from a local organization.

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