The Surry County Board of Education met at Meadowview Middle School on Monday for their October meeting.
The meeting began with several recognitions.
• Shane Southard, TIMS (transportation information management systems) coordinator, was recognized as October employee of the month, October was recognized as Custodian Appreciation Month, and LuAnne Llewellyn, Director of Federal Programs, was recognized applying for and receiving two scholarships worth $8,000, through the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s English Learners’ Division.
• The board also recognized East Surry High School sophomore, Landon Smith, who built a science kiosk on the grounds of Pilot Mountain Elementary for his Eagle Scout project. The kiosk is equipped with a display case, an attached wireless weather station with an indoor portable display tablet, and a wind vane.
He secured the funds for this project through a community dinner with donations only. Donations in excess of the project goal totaled more than $600 and went to Pilot Mountain Elementary. The school’s principal, Alison York, intends to use these funds to purchase Chromebooks for the students.
• Mike Wike presented a report on the system’s 2017-2018 audit, explaining to the board that the negative $112 million figure in the post employment benefits section reflected potential estimated medical expenses of retirees that are funded at only 3 percent.
“Those retirement benefits make these statements useless,” he said, and told the board to remember that “cash is king” and instead look to see if they had more cash or less cash than previously and manage it that way.
Wike concluded the audit reported only one finding in a management letter, that the cost of adult meals was less than its cost.
• Dr. Jeff Tunstall, assistant superintendent, gave an update on testing data, saying the county system ranked 16th in the state and should continue to “maintain the high stuff and fix the low stuff.” He said the eight kids out of 100 who don’t graduate is adequate for a high ranking, but ‘we want it to be zero.”
• Sherri Parks, director of school nuitrition, gave an update in which she went through the problems with new food supplier Sysco: invoicing, short of stock and substitutions, routing and poor communication.
An “intent to terminate contract” letter was sent to Sysco on Sept. 21, paving the way to return to former purveyor, number two bidder, U.S. Food.
“I have not noticed anything amiss,” said board chair Dr. Terri Mosley.
“We have worked very hard that our customers not be affected,” responded Parks.
• In his superintendent report, Dr. Travis Reeves said the school year had begun extremely smoothly.
He announced that Crystal Folger-Hawks of the school system’s Next Generation Career Academy was in Raleigh making a presentation to the National Governor’s Association regarding the Academy, where they will determine what is working with the program and how to scale it. She will also be presenting soon at the National School Board Conference in Philadelphia.
• Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jill Reinhardt briefed the board on reading programs at schools, the purpose of which is to, as she said, “instill a love of reading and not kill it.”
Schools have been given a choice as to continue with a longstanding program, Accelerated Reader (AR), which Reinhardt characterized as expensive, or to try something new. Shoals, Pilot Mountain Middle and Rockford elected to stick with AR and all other schools are experimenting with new programs.
• On behalf of Surry Central, Wes Evans requested permission to use $15,000 already allocated to the school to pave a pathway from the edge of the school’s parking lot to the press box.
Bids on the project have come in at $21,000 and $20,000, and Evans said the school would either reduce the scope of the project of find alternative financing for the difference in cost. The board approved the request, advising that Robert Draughn, director of plant operations, be involved as electrical wiring is buried in the area, some less than 12 inches below ground level.
• The board awarded a contract to LT Consulting and Bill Powell to proceed with a site evaluation plan for the county bus garage. The facility will serve all public schools in Surry County, not only Surry County school system, but Mount Airy City Schools and Elkin City Schools as well.
The current facility has limited space, with only room to shimmy behind buses when the doors are closed. Buses are larger than they used to be and standards have changed, according to Reeves.
The plan will give a cost estimate, how many bays are needed, a recommended footprint for a new facility. The $9,000 fee will include consultation with Charlotte architectural firm, Moore-Wright, which has expertise in bus facilities.
Commissioner Brian Moser expressed confidence in the move. “We know Bill’s reputation. I’m all for it.”
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.