Board votes to table budget until next meeting, votes against tax increase
The Union County Board of School Trustees met for its regular session Monday night and had several important discussions and votes that we will cover over the next few days. Among the highlights, the school board tabled a vote on the budget until the next meeting, on June 27. They also rejected a motion to raise taxes by six mills. They voted to terminate an unnamed employee of the school district as of July 1, and they voted to accept the personnel report, which included hiring Dena Addis as the new principal of Monarch Elementary School.
In today’s news, we’ll focus on the modified calendar. The board voted 7-2 to adopt the proposed modified calendar for the 2023-2024 school year. The calendar builds in breaks after every nine weeks, three days of which are dedicated to remediation and enrichment activities, with at least a week off after that. Director of Administration Eric Childers presented the calendar, and he gave the board members a financial information sheet detailing the costs of adding the remediation days to the calendar vs. the normal expenses of having the remediation and enrichment camps during the summer. He said he went with the highest possible figures in coming up with the estimate, as far as the number of teachers and their pay, along with the number of support staff needed and their pay. He said at most, there would be a $47,931 difference, which would be built in as a general fund budget item in the 2023-2024 budget. Board member Mark Ivey expressed disappointment that the board didn’t receive the information in their packets to go over ahead of time, but Childers said he was still making the calculations at the time the packet information went out. Some of the summer programs would not be affected, as summer school would still be offered, though not as many days would be needed for credit and content recovery during the summer. Other camps such as the 3rd grade summer reading camp would be required to be held over the summer, but many of the other camps could be held during the intersession periods. Childers said right now, there have been around 300 students identified as ones needing the help that some of the summer camps can provide, but currently only around 100 of those actually signed up for the camps. He said by offering them during the school year in the intersession periods, he hoped that parents would be more willing to allow their children to participate. He said other districts using federal ESSER funds have been doing an open remediation option rather than a targeted option like Union is planning, and they have seen as many as 1400 students participate. Ivey asked how teachers would be selected for the intersession periods. Dr. Lacresha Byrd stated they would have an internal application process to go through, and since the days don’t count toward their 190 required days, they would be paid the district hourly rate for teachers.
Superintendent Joey Haney stated that members of student councils at schools had given him some good feedback on the proposed calendar, saying they suggested using the intersession time to offer things like AP study sessions, SAT prep sessions, end-of-course study groups, intensive drama rehearsals, and more. Dr. Jane Wilkes stated with the district’s history of students being so far behind on reading and math, having targeted interventions before the learning gap gets too great would be a great idea. She said she hopes the district will give serious thought on how best to communicate to parents the importance of having their children attend these remediation and enrichment sessions. Eric Childers cited the scientific method in thinking of moving to the modified schedule:
(audio below story)
The board voted 7-2, with Mark Ivey and Manning Jeter opposed, to adopt the modified schedule for the 2023-2024 school year.