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Topics vary on BOE agenda

In giving the invocation at the start of the Currituck County Board of Education’s January meeting, board member Karen Etheridge recognized the passing of board member Dwan Craft’s husband, Mike. Craft later thanked everyone for their condolences, asking to remain in their thoughts and prayers.

In other items taken up during the board’s first meeting of the New Year, the board agreed on several calendar changes to make up for the days lost due to the severe winter weather. Included were two early release days that had been planned for February 14 and March 23.

School superintendent Mark Stefanik had recommended changing a March 30 early release to a make-up day as well, which would give students 1,035 instructional hours, a cushion on the 1,025 required. The missed days had dropped students below the minimum required, to 1,020.75 hours.

Board members decided to hold off on the latter March date, to see if it would actually be needed, giving students 1,032 instructional hours. However, given the additional missed days since the meeting, that day may be back on the table.

With days that can be used for make-up days running out, particularly if days made up are to be in the same semester as days lost, the superintendent also pointed out that other options may have to be considered, such as reducing spring break, extending the school day, or Saturday classes. Stefanik also noted that state officials have not offered exemptions to the required instructional hours/days as yet.

Because both Currituck County High School and J.P. Knapp Early College High School have early release every Friday and can use any of those Fridays to make up time, the superintendent explained those schools will schedule their own make-up days. Stefanik said he is also checking into policy that could allow teachers to work from home on days that schools are closed instead of using leave or adding the day to the end of the year.

The superintendent also thanked the bus drivers for their safe driving and getting students safely to school and home, particularly when having to drive on roads not cleared of ice and snow.

Stefanik also praised the work of the maintenance crew that tended to some broken water pipes and other issues, but had the schools ready when students returned after the closure.

On a request from the board, the superintendent explained the process used to determine when schools should be closed or reopened, that includes information from the National Weather Service, reports from folks in all parts of the county, information from the schools’ maintenance and transportation departments and the county’s EMS Department, and tracking a storm as it moves through other parts of the state – all with students’ safety first and foremost in mind, Stefanik said.

The board announced those schools that achieved PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Support) recognition, based on criteria such as teacher training, school wide evaluations. The recognition is scored on three levels, level one being the highest.

Earning level two recognition were Central Elementary, Moyock Elementary and Currituck County Middle schools. Level three schools were Currituck County High School, Griggs Elementary, Jarvisburg Elementary, Knotts Island Elementary and Shawboro Elementary schools.

The board reviewed a number of policy changes, to keep local policy in line with state requirements. The superintendent pointed out the changes did not affect local policy except in two instances. One, is the requirement for an advisory committee for the CTE (Career and Technical Education) program, which the board already has in place.

The second change is related to allowing school districts to offer teachers one, two or four year contracts. Stefanik explained that the recommendation is for the districts in a region to agree on how the contract offerings will be set up, so that one district does not lure teachers away from another district. That issue is to be taken up at an upcoming superintendents’ meeting and Stefanik suggested waiting until after that meeting to make a decision about contract policies, adding that the board will still have time to decide since contracts are not offered until May.

On a related policy note, board member Janet Rose said she has gotten several calls about bullying going on in the schools and asked that the policy on bullying be reviewed and that a program on bullying offered by the sheriff’s office be requested for the middle schools.

The board agreed to move its regular meeting in February to the sixth of that month, at the usual time of 6:30 p.m. in the public meeting room in the historic Currituck Courthouse. A work session was also scheduled for 4 p.m. on the same day at the Knapp Professional Learning Center.

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