The following is a brief recap of the February 11, 2021 Board of Education Special Called Meeting:
The meeting began with a closed session for personnel and to consult with legal counsel. In open session, the Board approved its agenda with some minor changes, including the changing of an agenda item titled “Personnel Report” to “Personnel” in order to discuss an open session personnel item specific to a PreK supplement.
Board member Strickland asked for an update about a recent State PreK supplement. Executive Director of Teaching & Learning and Federal Programs, Dr. Carol Artis, shared that the district was notified by NCDHHS in December that NC public school districts would receive a child care subsidy for November and December for their PreK staff. After completing the NCDHHS registration process, the district was notified in January that the money had dropped and that impacted employees should receive the supplement in their February paychecks.
Assistant superintendent for support services, Dr. Tim Harrell provided an update on the architect selection process for the new Fremont Elementary. He shared that the Facilities Committee had recommended Pinnacle Architecture, which designed the recently built Meadow Lane Elementary (MLE). After discussing the benefits and significant cost savings for using the MLE design plans for the new Fremont Elementary, the Board unanimously approved Pinnacle Architecture as the WCPS Architect for the new Fremont Elementary pending NCDPI approval of using its MLE design as the prototype for the school. As a part of the action, the Board also approved putting out an RFQ (Request for Qualifications) for a Construction Management At Risk delivery method.
Following the action, Board Member Henderson stated that it may be helpful for the newer Board members to hear a comprehensive update or review about the district’s most current facilities plan. Upon making a motion to initiate the review, the Board attorney advised the Board that such an action could not be taken because it was not included on the agenda. Henderson then requested that the item be added to the agenda item for the next meeting.
Assistant superintendent for Human Resources & Professional Development, Dr. Yvette Smith Mason, gave an update and clarification about potential employee leave options, including the Board’s ability to extend a special FFCRA leave to employees who had not utilized the leave option before it expired on December 31, 2020. Dr. Mason and the Board Attorney, Richard Schwartz, also shared information about the potential use of Contagious Disease Leave, which is a different type of leave that can only be used at the direction of the local health director. Dr. Mason noted that unlike FFCRA leave, the Contagious Disease Leave cannot be used for childcare. After there was no further discussion, the Board unanimously approved the extension of the special FFCRA leave until March 31, 2021 when the extension option expires.
The remainder of the meeting focused on second semester updates from the district's leadership team.
On March 15, students in grades K-5 are scheduled to transition to Plan A. Communications & Public Relations Officer, Ken Derksen, shared an update about a staff survey administered at the Board’s request seeking staff input about their preference for which plan (Plan A or Plan B) they would prefer to operate in. Derksen shared that the majority of certified staff and three quarters of classified staff at the 18 impacted schools were in favor of remaining in Plan B for the fourth grading period. Click on Link to see the full results.
Derksen also shared a report which identified which plans school districts were operating in within a two county radius, as well as the associated alert levels for the NC County Alert System.
Assistant Superintendent for Student Services & Innovative Programs, Dr. Marcia Manning gave an update about school nurses and then answered questions about the Governor's recent announcement that school employees will soon be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Manning shared that WCPS is advocating for staff to receive the vaccine and has been compiling names of employees interested in receiving the vaccine to provide the local health department and emergency management in preparation for the rollout.
At the request of Chair West, Executive Director of the Exceptional Children’s Department, Sonja Emerson, shared that students with IEPs who qualified have had the opportunity to attend school four days a week since August.
Dr. Harrell stated the Transportation Department and the School Nutrition Department are prepared for the March 15 transition.
Dr. Mason shared that the district’s substitute teacher support remains down in schools with approximately 100 of the 400 available subs providing coverage when teachers are absent. She shared that the district is working with staff when teleworking can occur and addressing a small number of staff who need medical accommodations.
Chief Finance Officer, Leslie Rouse shared a brief update about federal relief funding.
Interim Superintendent, Dr. David Lewis shared that he was pleased that Wayne County’s COVID-19 metrics are moving in the right direction with new cases, hospitalizations, etc. dropping significantly since the holiday spike.
Without any further discussion, the Board meeting was adjourned.