Dare school board hears about two awards, adopts three MOUs

Published 8:54 am Sunday, February 5, 2023

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The Dare County Schools Transportation Department excelled in a surprise state inspection of its activity and big yellow buses.

State inspectors from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction selected one activity bus and several of Dare’s 45 yellow buses to inspect top to bottom. Around 1,000 items are checked each month by Dare School employees and once a year by the state inspectors.

This year the Dare County’s Transportation Department posted a single-digit 9.75 score. The statewide average is about 33.7.

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Transportation director Alex Chandler said the Dare department has to wait until the end of the year to find out where Dare County Schools placed in the state inspection lineup.

Driving those buses loaded with students to and from Dare schools are 37 dedicated drivers.

Another award was mentioned at the Jan. 9, 2023 Board of Education meeting.

The previous school board received a Silver Bell Award for Whole Board Training from the North Carolina School Boards Association. Each of the previous board members earned the requisite number of hours for credit and the award. School Bell awardees returning to the board are David Twiddy, Mary Ellon Ballance, Susan Bothwell and Carl Woody. Previous board members earning the award are Margaret Lawler, Frank Hester and Joe Tauber.

On Jan. 16 and 17, the current board held a retreat to introduce new Dare school board members to ethics and legalities of board work. The meetings, which ran for a day and half, were held in the law offices of the Dare County Schools attorney Rachel Hitch, with Poyner Spruill LLP.

In the early January meeting, four people delivered public comments at the allotted time.

Olivia Sugg, editor-in-chief of the Nighthawk News Magazine at First Flight High School, discussed student press freedom.

Attending statewide and national journalism conferences, Sugg discovered that her school was one of a few where the student newspaper is published after it is reviewed by “our principal who has final authority on what can be printed.”

She advocated for a “simple change in policy” and provided a draft districtwide policy for board consideration.

Erin Rohrbacher represented home-schooled families. She noted that 51 home schools are registered in Dare County. She advocated to allow home schooled kids to participate in high school athletics sports programs through local Dare County high schools.

Commenter Macey Chovaz said: “I have serious concerns that some members of the board … have neither the ability nor the interest to fulfill this mission.”

Chovaz charged that some members of the Board of Education “ran campaigns spewing lies about the need to combat CRT (Critical Race Theory), and SEL (Social Emotional Learning) in our schools, as well as anti-LGBTQIA rhetoric.”

Previous school board member Susie Walters appeared and asked that the full agenda with draft policies, documents for agenda items be included in the released of the agenda.

In the early January meeting, the school board approved unanimously three memorandums of understanding with Dare County.

The first regards the unimproved areas behind First Flight Schools. The agreement permits use by Dare County for its Parks and Recreation programming when the fields are not in use by the schools, which have first priority.

In the document, Dare County is promising to keep the fields, stands, bathrooms, if any, at a minimum to the condition at the time of the agreement, to mow and line the fields for scheduled school activities, to make improvements to the fields such as lights, bleachers, dugouts, storage facilities, fences, concession stands, irrigation, scoreboards and other amenities for recreation programs with prior approval of the Board of Education or its designee. Schools can use the new improvements except for new storage facilities. Parking is on paved lots at the schools. Use of the facilities requires litter pickup and sanitizing concession stands and other facilities.

The second memorandum of understanding speaks to the use of the county-owned fueling stations located on Driftwood Drive in Manteo. The fueling stations provide fuel to government service vehicles. Dare County and Dare County Schools are entering an agreement facilitating the use of the fueling stations by Dare Schools vehicles. The agreement follows those with other entities about fuel station use.

The last memorandum is between Southern Shores and Dare County Schools for a school resource officer for Kitty Hawk Elementary. The assigned officer is an employee of the town and is supervised by the town’s chief of police.

On the consent agenda, the board:

— Accepted a $8,100 donation from the Knights of Columbus for the Exceptional Children Program.

— Approved a budget amendment that increased state funding of $874,522 to the following categories: CTE, children with disabilities, school safety grants, principal performance bonus, at risk student services and school technology.

— Appropriated $9,000 for the down payment for the Tango Flight project.