Dare school board approves new calendar, raises superintendent’s salary

Published 8:24 pm Wednesday, March 27, 2024

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At its March 2024 meeting, the Dare County Board of Education adopted a new, different calendar and announced a salary increase for Superintendent Steve Basnight.

After input from parents, students, certified and classified employees and administrators, the new 2024-2025 calendar calls for the first semester and necessary exams to end in December before the winter holiday. Finishing before the winter break also aligns with the College of The Albemarle schedule.

“Some adjustment will be needed at the high school level,” said Assistant Superintendent Steve Blackstock. The fall semester will be eight or nine days shorter and the spring semester eight or nine days longer under the new calendar.

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The calendar covers the required nine months and has the required nine teacher workdays and 10 annual vacation days, 11 holidays and Veterans Day. Teachers are under contract for 215 days.

Dare County Schools can only schedule five remote learning days and those can only be called for inclement weather.

Reporting after a closed session, board Chairman David Twiddy announced that the board will provide a 5% increase to the salary of Basnight, which equates to $9,500, making the superintendent’s salary $199,500. The contract was also extended for two more years.

The increase comes after an evaluation.

The superintendent reported achievements of the district:

– Recognition as a National Board Accomplished District for having over 30% of its teachers and counselors achieving National Board Certification. Dare County Schools is in the top 14 districts in the nation.

– First Flight High School Junior Chefs team was one of three teams to compete in the statewide cook-off. Shannon Castillo, director of career and technical education, and Kelleta Govan, director of school nutrition, spoke about the competition. The team was required to develop a school lunch entree with two North Carolina grown products and one USDA product.

– Cape Hatteras Elementary and Cape Hatteras Secondary teams competed in the Science Olympiad. The secondary school had four teams finish in the top three. Jessica Polk was tapped as the Coach of the Year. Cape Hatteras Elementary participants came home with 22 first place medals and 14 second place medals and the first place overall. The entire team received a special award for its kindness and sportsmanship. Jen Augustson was saluted as the coach. Science Olympiad is a program of North Carolina State University.

– The Manteo Middle School boys basketball team finished with an undefeated season. A banquet was held at the Virginia S. Tillett Community Center.

Oliver Holley, director of human resources, briefed the board on the 2024 Teacher Working Conditions Survey, which was started in 2002 with 39 questions. Today’s survey has 99 questions.

The 2024 survey started March 1 and concludes March 29. Each eligible person received a unique, anonymous email link to the survey. All classroom teachers (certified and non-certified) and licensed school-based educators (e.g., school counselor, school psychologist, social worker, media coordinator, instructional coaches, etc.) in the state are eligible to participate.

As of March 19, 2024, the participation results for Dare County Schools are: Cape Hatteras Elementary – 100%, Cape Hatteras Secondary – 95.35%, First Flight Elementary – 88.5%, First Flight Middle – 65.56%, First Flight High – 95.71%, Kitty Hawk Elementary – 73.33%, Manteo Elementary – 80.95%, Manteo Middle – 100%, Manteo High – 75% and Nags Head Elementary – 73.08%.

Holley said prizes are available for individuals such as $25 gift certificate for Bojangles, tickets to the state fair and museums or wellness packages. Ten systems that have a 90% completion rate will win $1,000 to send teachers to the 2024 AIM conference in Raleigh in October.

Board member Mary Ellon Ballance introduced Keith Durham, who runs the carpentry program at Cape Hatteras Secondary.

Get on the Bus is the title of the program, which is taking a 20-year old activity bus and upcycling the bus to a recreational vehicle. It’s a two-year project to take the bus from point zero to a finished project, with solar array on top, a RV air conditioner, a composting toilet, an on-demand hot water heater and a generator.

Durham and the students are challenged to figure out what to do. Materials are coming from wherever found, from donations, and from purchased materials when needed.

“It’s been an adventure, so far,” said Durham.

Next year, the bus – now a recreational vehicle – will be auctioned off as it came with strings attached. The program must reimburse for the activity bus.

A new trio of student advisors must be selected. An application is available at daretolearn.org. Applications must be submitted by April 8. The board is looking for rising seniors with 3.0 academic averages, demonstrated leadership, two recommendations, and willingness to serve during senior year. One student from each high school will be selected. The board will say goodbye to the first student advisors and select the next group May 13. The students will be sworn into office June 10.

The board passed the consent agenda which had five sets of minutes.

Also on the consent agenda were the following budget amendments:

– After School Enrichment Fund. A corrected budget amendment (BA-7 ASEP corrected) that was originally presented at the Feb. 12, 2024 meeting. The amendment to Ancillary Services of $200,170 was inadvertently left off in the amendment column for expenditures, increasing the total approved expenditure amount to $720,523.

– State Public School Fund. Appropriates additional funds received for the following programs: International Faculty Exchange Teachers $20,004; School Safety Grant $255,430; Third Grade Read to Achieve Teacher Bonus $36,934; Assistant Principal Interns – MSA Students $49,960; and a net reduction $403 to correct the allotments Central Office Administration and School Technology.

– Capital Outlay Fund. Recognizes additional funding from Dare County that was provided for mold remediation at FFES and FFMS $863,952; CIP funds for projects started last fiscal year but completed this year, $119,300; and state funding for the purchase of a replacement yellow bus $142,550 and related debt service $74,702.

Three more items were in the consent agenda:

– Summer Program Plan: Students may opt to engage in course or subject repetition with the aim of enhancing functional skills or accessing enrichment opportunities. Additionally, certain students may be extended the opportunity to participate in credit recovery initiatives. Runs from June 10 through June 12.

– Government and Education Access Channel Budget for 2024-2025: total $342,159. Dare Schools will pay the same $1,000 membership fee.

– E-Rate Funding and WAN Contract with Spectrum Enterprises: The scope of this project is the purchase of WAN access (1-20 Gbps) to Dare County Schools’ campuses. Awarded to Spectrum Enterprises. This contract spans three years with the option for two, one-year extensions, beginning July 1, 2024 and ending June 30, 2027. Monthly rate is $9,630.

Under new business, the board received the following policy manual updates for first reading. The updates will appear on the next board meeting agenda for passage:

– Revised Policy 6220: Operation of School Nutrition Services

– Revised Policy 1510/4020/7270: School Safety

– Revised Policy 4100: Age Requirements for Initial Entry

– Revised Policy 4155: Assignment to Classes

– NEW Policy 2410: Policy Development

– Rescind Policy 2400: Policy Development

– Rescind Policy 2415: Policy Drafting

– Rescind Policy 2420: Adoption of Policies

– Rescind Policy 8360: Money in School Buildings

The next Dare County Board of Education meeting will be held Monday, April 15, 2024 at 5 p.m. in the Commissioners Meeting Room of the Dare Administration Building, located 954 Marshall C. Collins Dr. in Manteo.