Dare school board deals with policies, budget, artificial intelligence

Published 3:18 pm Saturday, January 6, 2024

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In a special called meeting, the Dare County Board of Education reviewed eight policies and one new regulation.

Meeting on Dec. 19, 2023, the board massaged three policies and a regulation and adopted all nine of the items.

The policies address Parental Involvement with a new regulation 1310/4002 and 4002-R; Counseling Program 3610; Staff-Student Relations 4040/7310; Immunization and Health Requirements for School Admission 4110; Child Abuse and Related Threats to Child Safety 4240/7312; Student Searches 4342; Distribution and Display of Non-School Material 5210; and a new policy Advertising in the Schools 5240.

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Discussion about the Parental Involvement Policy revolved around chain of command and a clarification that all volunteers are subject to a background check.

Policy 4342 Student Searches can be implemented on school property and school events and extends to student vehicles. A pat down can be implemented by a school resource officer or a school administrator. A Dare County Schools employee must witness the pat down.

Policy 5210 about distribution and display of non-school material revolves around “free speech,” which Dare County school board attorney Rachel Hitch described as “so messy.”

The special session was arranged after the policies were pulled from the Dec. 11 regular meeting agenda to address additional questions.

The school board now has a 2023-2024 budget.

A resolution was adopted as part of the consent agenda on Dec. 11, 2023. The budget replaces an interim budget adopted in June 2023. The resolution incorporates allotments from state and federal governments and approved salary schedules, adjusted retirement rate and increases to health insurance. The General Assembly adopted the state budget in October 2023, which determines the county school board budget.

The budget shows State Public School Fund at $39.37 million; local current expense fund from Dare County appropriation at $26,895,243 and Fines and Forfeitures at $727,000.

Federal grants total $5.94 million. Other Special Revenue Fund (known as Fund 8) totals $1.62 million and includes a state grant for PreK, GovTV grant for public information department, indirect costs, sales tax refunds, facility use revenue and rent.

Funding for the Capital Outlay Budget comes from Dare County at $600,000 and $2,045,000 for the school board’s Capital Improvement Plan implementation. Some $2,322,035 is held over due to incomplete projects.

School nutrition is budgeted $2,354,500 and the After School Enrichment Program at $496,000. Both of these programs are enterprise accounts.

The total Dare County Schools budget for 2023-2024 is $82,366,810.

Also on the amended consent agenda, the board accepted a $7,500 donation from the local Knights of Columbus, which has a project titled Least Among My Brethren. This is the 38th year the program has raised funds for programs impacting the lives of children and adults with disabilities.

The donation was accepted and will be used by exceptional children’s teachers to purchase supplemental materials for use with exceptional students.

In the amended consent agenda, in the personnel report, Caroline Pearce was named the interim assistant principal at First Flight High School effective Nov. 29, 2023. The school board was informed of the suspension with pay of Lela Ingram, assistant principal at First Flight High School, effective Dec. 11, 2023.

Several presentations came to the board on Dec. 11.

Denise Fallon, director of secondary education, and Holly King, director of technology, made a presentation on artificial intelligence in education.

Fallon and King head a districtwide advisory committee with eight other members pulled from middle and high schools.

The presentation started with a question about artificial intelligence in everyday life: “Have you used, for example, Siri or Alexa, navigation and maps, autocorrect and auto-completion, self-driving? You’ve used Artificial Intelligence.”

Fallon and King talked about generative artificial intelligence, which is capable of generating texts, images or other media.

Over the next five years, a 40% increase in demand for AI and machine learning roles is expected to yield one million new jobs globally.

It was noted that effective and ethical use of AI requires a human/AI partnership: “The human partner must always think critically to prompt the AI and to evaluate, verify, & refine all responses,” states the presentation.

The presentation ended with an “AI Implementation Roadmap for K12 Schools” in four sections.

The first, “Establish a Foundation,” has been accomplished. It includes setting up a district committee.

The second will be addressed in spring 2024: “Develop Your Staff.” This section focuses on faculty professional development to cover the impact of GenAI, how to use and use responsibly; share draft academic guidelines for feedback and what will work in the classroom, and support teachers in updating classroom policies to include artificial intelligence integrity.

In fall 2024, the district will launch the third section: Education students and community. This section includes upskilling students for future readiness, providing ongoing training to teachers and community, and building a common understanding between schools and parents.

The fourth section is titled “Assess and Progress,” which is on-going.

Three more presentations were provided to the board at the Dec. 11 meeting: ESSR Relief Funds Expenditures; Holocaust Curriculum Update and a Report on New Incentive Program for School Nutrition Staff, which will be covered in subsequent reports.

Policy updates and a new policy presented for first reading include:

– Revised Policy 3225/4312/7320: Technology Responsible Use

– Revised Policy 6220: Operation of School Nutrition Services

– New Policy 6430: Purchasing Requirements for Equipment, Materials, and Supplies and Delete Policy 6412: Purchasing Authority

– Revised Policy 6402/9100: Ethics and the Purchasing Function

– Revised Policy 7100: Recruitment and Selection of Personnel