ALBEMARLE — The Stanly County Board of Education met last week to vote on new mask guidelines and to tackle issues for the current and upcoming school years.
In line with new CDC guidelines announced prior to the meeting, the county school system will no longer require masks on public school transportation. It will instead be optional, in line with the masking policies already in place in other areas of Stanly County Schools.
The board gave the go ahead for Stanly County Superintendent Dr. Jarrod Dennis to work with the Calendar Committee in drafting an early start calendar for next school year that will be voted on in April.
“I’m hoping that if we get a good number of surrounding counties that are saying, ‘We turned in a resolution and now we are going to follow it up with an early start calendar,’ then the ball would be in the legislature’s court.” said Board Chairwoman Glenda Gibson. “We’re trying to address learning loss in our county. We’re trying to do the best that we can by our students.”
A new calendar plan could see the traditional school year starting for students around August 10 and ending around May 20, with high school graduation wrapping up before Memorial Day, according to Dr. Dennis.
“I would encourage everyone, once this new plan is likely approved by the school board, to contact your state representatives and get them to move on this,” said board member Anthony Graves. “This is one thing we can do that would impact every single student in a positive way in Stanly County Schools.”
The board also authorized the application for four grants from the Needs-Based Public Schools Capital Fund. The money – only 5% of which would have to be matched by Stanly County Schools – would go toward the renovation of one high school and additions on campuses with mobile classrooms.
“We cannot secure mobiles,” said Executive Director of Maintenance and Facilities Todd Bowers. “They are not safe in today’s environment and so we are going to try and get additions in places on campus where we have mobiles today and we’re going to look at some renovations.”
A decision on whether or not Stanly County Schools will receive any of the grants should come in April.
Stanly County Schools will also submit a plan for a relaunch of its Summer Testing Program for the current school year after pre-approval from the board.
The voluntary program – which was last utilized in 2018-19 – is for select students who passed a course but did not earn a proficient score on the corresponding EOG or EOC. The program provides a three-day, four-hours a day remediation time with an available retest on the fourth day.
“For 2018-19, we tested 901 students, and out of those, 281 attained a proficient score that had not had one previously,” said Director of Accountability and Testing Tim Hatley. “That means of those tested, 31.1% of them became proficient, a huge turnaround through this program.”
The program plan will be submitted to the NC Department of Public Institution for final approval.
The board renewed its audit contract for the 2021-22 school year and authorized the use of fund balance to pay for the first six months of service from their telecommunications provider.
Stanly County Schools had been and still is waiting on an appeal to be processed for funding to help pay for its telecommunication services through the Universal Service Administrative Company’s E-Rate program.
The Board of Education will meet next on April 5.