By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
The most recent meeting of the Tucker County Board of Education served multiple purposes, including a public calendar hearing. Attendance Director Amber Kyle was given the task to develop some calendar options for the 2021-2022 school year. After sending out surveys to school staff and parents, the data was compiled and resulted in four calendar options.
There were 96 staff responses and 107 family responses that were considered in the process. Each calendar allows for three CD days and a prep day at the beginning of the calendar, and a prep day at the end of the calendar, along with professional learning days at the end of each nine weeks. “From the parent survey, I learned that they would really like to have a back-to-school day event, which we haven’t done in a couple of years but that was something they were requesting, and they want parent-teacher conferences back,” said Kyle.
Once all considerations were made, calendar one resulted in the following: teachers begin August 12, students, August 19, first semester concludes in December, a full week off for Thanksgiving, Christmas break December 23 through January 3, a full week off at Easter, students end on May 26 and teachers end May 31 with four OS days at the end of the calendar. The second option has the teachers beginning August 19, students August 25, a full week off at Thanksgiving, Christmas celebrated December 22 through January 2, Friday and Monday off for Easter, students end May 27 and teachers end June 1 with four OS days in the end. The third option has teachers beginning August 26 and students September 1, a full week off for Thanksgiving, Christmas break December 22 through January 2, Friday and Monday off for Easter, students ending on June 8, and teachers on June 10 with four OS days in the end. Calendar four has teachers beginning on August 31, students on September 7, a full week off at Thanksgiving, Christmas Break December 22 through January 1, Friday and Monday off for Easter Holiday, students will end on June 8 with teachers finishing June 10 and four OS days at the end.
After these four calendars were developed from survey responses and state guidelines, Kyle sent them back out to the staff for voting. Calendar one received 21 votes, two had 40, three had 23, and four received 10. “I really thought that our staff was going to go for calendar 3,” she added. She said it was closer to what the parents were suggesting and it allowed avoidance of the Tucker County Fair, which a large number of students are involved with.
Board Member Jessica Wamsley asked about calendar one and when graduation would be held. “The seniors can be finished with school at 175 days, so it could move forward those last five days,” Kyle responded. Though this also imposed an issue with state tournaments and meets. She added that calendar one goes against most of what the parents requested via their survey. Superintendent Alicia Lambert also noted that remote days cannot be used next school year in place of snow days. The calendar could not be voted on at this meeting and will be discussed more before voting. Parents are welcome to share their opinions on the calendars as well.
A special meeting was then called to approve the 2021-2022 schedule of proposed levy rates. Finance Director Tracy Teets stated the amount is down slightly this year at just over $2,000. Board Member Cathy Hebb and Vice President Daniel “Chopper” Evans made the motions to approve with all in favor.
Moving into regular business, Dave Clark with the Woodlands Development Group was present to discuss the transfer of ownership of the former Parsons High School building. “Our plan has been to convert a portion into apartments and leave everybody in here who’s already in here, but move them all down here to the first floor,” explained Clark. Financing options are being sought and are ready to be applied for, though they would like a letter of commitment from the Board of Education to assist in the funding. Lambert has a draft agreement ready that she will submit to legal counsel for review before it is signed and submitted to Woodlands.
Wamsley wanted to confirm that the bus garage would remain, the football field would be utilized by the schools, and the gymnasium would still be accessible for students and little league. Clark confirmed that was the agreement though 15 parking spots would have to be designated for the potential 10 apartments, which is required by any lender.
The annual technology report was provided to show an update on where the schools stand with technological devices. The biggest change this year was the student Chromebooks that were purchased to use while learning remote. Wamsley asked if there have been any issues with the Chromebooks, which Lambert stated mostly it’s been a few broken screens that have had to be addressed.
The consent agenda items were approved as presented before Lambert moved into personnel recommendations. She recommended accepting the resignation of William Simmons, bus driver, effective February 28, 2021, and the retirement of Cynthia Snyder, cook at the Tucker County High School, effective September 2, 2021. “That’s two very experienced individuals we’re losing,” proclaimed Wamsley. Hebb and Evans motioned to accept with all in favor.
Lambert recommended hiring Rachel Garner and Elizabeth Smith as substitute teachers for the remainder of the school year, pending background check and certification, Kellie Crosten as the after-school elementary reading teacher at Tucker Valley Elementary Middle School, Josh Evans as after-school high school math teacher, Barbara Zimmerman for the after school high school English and language arts teacher, Lacey Evans, after school high school social studies teacher, and Elizabeth Smith as a volunteer assistant track coach at TVEMS. Evans left the room before reading and voting due to family affiliation. Hebb and Wamsley voted in favor of the Superintendent’s recommendations for hire with all in agreement.
There were policy updates brought to the board for a vote, including the Open Enrollment for Non-resident Students – Policy 5113, and Areas of Critical Need and SHortage – Policy 3120.13. All updates passed unanimously. The Non-discrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities – Policy 2266 had its second reading with Lambert noting two minor changes. It was suggested that record retention be changed from five to seven years and a timeframe of 90 days be omitted from the literature to match the federal policy. All board members agreed in favor of the changes and second reading.
The budget adjustments and financial statements for February 2021 were approved before Wamsley asked about prom and graduation. Lambert said the state is releasing a set of guidelines to local health departments on how they think these events should proceed. Once those guidelines are received, Lambert will be in contact with James Snyder to come to a local decision that will then be publicly announced.
The next meeting of the TCBOE will be Monday, April 5 at 4:30 p.m. at the TCBOE Office.