• News from the Board -- November 17, 2023

    Posted by Jessica Wells on 11/20/2023 1:45:00 PM


    The Onslow County Board of Education met in special session on Friday, November 17, for the purpose of conducting interviews with law firms for the position of General Counsel. 

    Throughout the day-long session, the Board interviewed five interested law firms: Vogel Law Firm PLLC, Tharrington Smith LLP, Erwin Law Firm PLLC, Schwartz Law PLLC, and Poyner Spruill LLP.  

    Each firm was given 45 minutes to answer the same 11 questions from the Board.  

    In deliberations, all Board members were given the opportunity to discuss their thoughts on the candidates. A motion to select Poyner Spruill LLP was made by Board Member Melissa Oakley, with a second from Board Member Elbert Garvey.  

    In a 5-2 vote, the Board approved the motion, which indicated a contract with Poyner Spruill LLP will become effective on March 1, 2024 and be in place until May 2, 2026. The Board’s action also approved a transitional period from January 2024 to March 2024. The two dissenting votes came from members Louis Rogers and Angie Todd.

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  • News from the Board -- November 7, 2023

    Posted by Jessica Wells on 11/9/2023


    The Onslow County Board of Education held its regular monthly meeting on November 7 at the Eastern North Carolina Regional Skills Center. Agenda items included an annual independent audit report, an instructional services update, and an overview of 2024-2025 calendar development.  

    Before the start of the meeting, Board Member Angie Todd made a motion to move the approval of Policy 6420 from the consent agenda to general business. The rules surrounding the policy committee and policy update process state that if a Board member wishes to discuss a particular policy in open session, it will be moved to general business without needing a vote. The policy was added to general business.  

    After a Good News Spotlight, which highlighted staff and student successes, and a public comment period with 23 speakers, Jeff Hollamon, OCS Chief Finance Officer, took to the podium to introduce the annual independent audit report.  

    Dale Smith, a representative from Anderson Smith Wike, PLLC, the agency that performed the audit, shared with the Board that his firm’s audit showed that Onslow County Schools is in great financial standing. He said that Anderson Smith Wike performs audits for many school districts, and OCS has one of the best-managed finance departments they have seen.  

    Next on the agenda were updates from the OCS Instructional Services team.  

    Will Laine, Executive Director of Secondary Services and Interim Director of CTE, and Dr. Michael Elder, Director of College and Career Readiness, spoke to the Board about North Carolina’s Career & College Promise. CCP, a program started by the state in 2011, allows high school students to earn college credits, free of charge, from NC community colleges. OCS students can dual-enroll at Coastal Carolina Community College and earn credits that can lead to industry credentials or a college degree. Students can commute to CCCC to take classes, but the district has worked to provide more CCCC classes on OCS campuses to increase accessibility for all students.  

    Dr. Elder shared that through this program, OCS students took 2,101 college courses last school year, up from 810 just 5 years ago. CCP has great student benefits, including higher graduation rates, savings on postsecondary education, higher postsecondary enrollment, and more. In the future, OCS hopes to expand its options through CCP, offering more CTE pathways.

    Jay Strope, principal of Onslow Early College High School, also shared with the Board how his school offers students the opportunity to get a jumpstart on college while in high school.  

    OECHS is located on the campus of CCCC, and students take all their high school courses in their freshman and sophomore years, allowing them to be fully immersed in college courses at CCCC their junior and senior years. This makes it possible for each student to potentially earn their high school diploma and an associate degree in just four years of high school.  

    OECHS was recently ranked the 3rd best high school in North Carolina and the 111th best in the nation by US News and World Reports.  

    Dr. Mark Bulris, Executive Director of Elementary Services, presented to the Board a review of the NC K-3 Reading Assessment data. He shared that K-3 reading assessments are required by Read to Achieve legislation and measure reading foundational skills. Data from beginning-of-year testing shows that many students come to OCS in kindergarten performing well below the state and national averages. As they get older, data shows great year-over-year growth. A takeaway Dr. Bulris wanted to emphasize is that data shows that reading proficiency is increasing.  

    Lastly in the instructional update, Dr. Elder shared an overview of recent and upcoming sessions in the OCS Parent Academy. Parent Academy is a series of information sessions for families that range in topic from scheduling to postsecondary planning to student health, and more.  

    Next on the agenda was a presentation from Chief Communications Officer Brent Anderson regarding calendar development for the 2024-2025 school year. Anderson shared with the Board the legal calendar requirements, including holidays, start and end dates, workdays, instructional hours, and more. He said that an earlier draft calendar for the 2024-2025 school year had been shared with the Board, principals, directors, Quality Council and the System Involvement Team. These groups include principals, teachers, parents and community members. Feedback will continue to be collected and taken into consideration through November. A final draft will be presented to the Board for approval in December. 

    Last on the agenda was a discussion about Policy Code: 6420, which relates to contracts with the Board. Board Member Todd said that she has recommended amendments to the policy before it is finalized. Board Member Melissa Oakley, who is chair of the policy committee, said that the recommendations would be discussed in the next policy committee meeting.  

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