• News from the Board -- May 16, 2024

    Posted by Jessica Wells on 5/17/2024 2:45:00 PM

     

    On Thursday, May 16, the Onslow County Board of Education held a workshop meeting at the Eastern North Carolina Regional Skills Center to reconsider the YMCA Aquatic Center and review policies currently being discussed by the Board’s policy committee.  

    In the first order of business, the Board revisited a vote to approve staff to move forward with the MOU agreed upon between the Board and the New River YMCA last year regarding funding for an aquatic center in Jacksonville. The agreement would require a $3 million investment from Onslow County Schools, which would be combined with contributions from the county and city governments, to fund the construction of a YMCA pool facility. L 

    egal counsel explained that the Board’s previous 3-3 vote on the YMCA Aquatic Center, from which one member abstained, created a scenario in which the Board could not move forward with a clear direction. After the previous meeting, the abstaining member indicated they would like to address the item again and cast a vote.  

    The Board voted again on this issue, and the Board approved the YMCA Aquatic Center agreement in a 4-3 vote.  

    Counsel advised that the Board could look into policy to clarify procedures surrounding abstention to avoid such scenarios in the future.  

    Next, the Board discussed a series of policies currently under review by the policy committee, including policies 2120, 2130, 2220, and 2310.  

    First, the Board discussed Policy 2120, which outlines the Board of Education member code of ethics. Possible revisions discussed included adding language about “mutual respect” and adding the expectation that Board members will fully comply with requests for public records.  

    Potential revisions discussed regarding Policy 2310: Board Member Compensation and Expenses include language to require appropriate documentation when a member is unable to attend previously scheduled workshops or trips. This change would be implemented to ensure the district properly documents emergency circumstances preventing a member from attending an event paid for with public funds. 

    Policy 2220 outlines who can offically speak on behalf of the Board and school district. Possible revisions to this policy include verbiage to limit the use of official OCS letterhead and logos by Board members and staff.  

    Finally, the Board discussed Policy 2310, which outlines the procedures for public participation at Board meetings. Potential revisions discussed include changes to the amount of time speakers are allowed, adding language to indicate that speakers must address their comments directly to the Board, and possible changes to livestreaming practices. 

    Feedback was collected on the possible revisions of each policy, and final policy drafts will be presented to the full Board for a vote at a later date. 

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  • News from the Board -- May 7, 2024

    Posted by Jessica Wells on 5/10/2024 2:00:00 PM

     

    The Onslow County Board of Education held its regular monthly meeting on May 7 at the Eastern North Carolina Regional Skills Center. Agenda items included an award of contract for the purchase of a weapons detection system, the YMCA Aquatic Center, budget discussions, the selection of a contractor for the NWPMS project, redistricting, and ONWASA easement, the district’s CTE plan, and a literacy update.   

    Immediately preceding the regular meeting was a public hearing regarding the FY2024-2025 Capital Outlay and Local Current Expense budget proposals. No one spoke at the public hearing.     

    After a Good News Spotlight segment, which highlighted the achievements of our students, and a public comment period with 5 speakers, Dr. Brendan Gartner, OCS Chief of Operations, took to the podium. 

    Dr. Gartner shared with the Board an update on the process for purchasing and implementing a weapons detection system at the district’s high schools. OCS recently received 3 proposals in the bidding process for the project. Bright Light Technologies was identified as the lowest responsive, responsible bidder with a bid of $1,791,028. The Board unanimously approved Bright Light Technologies, who will move forward with the installation of Evolv weapons detection systems.  

    Next on the agenda, OCS Chief Financial Officer Jeff Hollamon asked the Board for approval to move forward with the MOU agreed upon between the Board and the New River YMCA last year regarding funding for an aquatic center in Jacksonville. The agreement would require a $3 million investment from Onslow County Schools, which would be combined with contributions from the county and city governments, to fund the construction of a YMCA pool facility. The Board discussed the budgetary and community implications of upholding the agreement, and in the end, a 3-3 vote resulted in no action being taken, with members Reddic, Garvey, and Lanier voting yes, members Williams, Oakley, and Todd voting no, and member Rogers abstaining. 

    Hollamon then presented to the Board the 2024-2025 Local Current Expense and Capital Outlay budgets for approval. The local current expense budget provides funding for salaries, insurance, academic programming, technology, cultural arts, utilities, exceptional children and more. The total proposed budget for 2024-2025 equals $97.3 million. The capital outlay budget covers the district’s expenses related to maintenance, transportation, paving, roofing, furniture, safety and security, etc. It totals $5,557,991.  

    The budget was approved in a 5-2 vote, with members Todd and Rogers abstaining.  

    Dr. Gartner then presented a series of items for approval to the Board, including the selection of a contractor for the upcoming renovation of Northwoods Park Middle School, redistricting for Woodland Elementary School, and the creation of an easement for ONWASA at Sand Ridge Elementary.  

    The NWPMS project will include the construction of a new gymnasium and the renovation of the old gym into classroom space. Eight bids from construction companies were received for this project. Quadrant Construction, Inc. was identified as the lowest responsive, responsible bidder with a bid of $11,593,900. The Board unanimously approved Quadrant Construction.  

    Woodland Elementary School will open in August of 2025, and the addition of the school will require redistricting, which will affect four existing schools: Queens Creek, Swansboro, Morton, and Silverdale elementary schools. After collecting feedback from the community, a few common concerns and themes came up, including grandfathering students into their old schools and not wanting to split up neighborhoods. Based community feedback, staff adjusted the proposed redistricting plan to extend the Morton attendance zone northeast along Grants Creek Road and include the option for those entering 5th grade in 2025-2026 to stay at their current schools. The redistricting plan was unanimously approved.  

    Onslow Water and Sewer Authority recommended creating an easement to allow them better access to water and sewer lines on the Sand Ridge Elementary School campus. The Board unanimously approved the easement.  

    Will Laine, interim CTE director and executive director of secondary services, along with his staff and a CTE student, then took to the podium to share about the district’s CTE plan and local application. They shared that the district’s CTE goals include increasing opportunities for students to earn industry credentials, strengthening relationships with regional businesses and employers, and increasing opportunities for students to participate in work-based learning. They also gave an overview of current and future CTE programs and initiatives. The Board unanimously approved the CTE plan.  

    Last on the agenda was a literacy update from Dr. Mark Bulris, executive director of elementary services. Dr. Bulris shared that the district’s middle-of-the-year data is looking good, with our students showing growth in literacy at nearly every grade level.  

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  • News from the Board -- May 1, 2024

    Posted by Jessica Wells on 5/3/2024 1:05:00 PM

     

    On Wednesday, May 1, the Onslow County Board of Education held a workshop meeting at the Eastern North Carolina Regional Skills Center to discuss the 2024-2025 budget proposal.   

    First, Chief Finance Officer Jeff Hollamon presented the proposed local current expense budget for the 2024-2025 fiscal year. The local current expense budget provides funding for salaries, insurance, academic programming, technology, cultural arts, utilities, exceptional children and more. Hollamon said that the total proposed budget for 2024-2025 equals $97.3 million, with $700,000 coming from fines and forfeitures, $9 million coming from the appropriated fund balance, $12 million coming from disaster recovery funds, and $75.6 million coming from the county’s tax revenue. Going into the new fiscal year, the superintendent plans to prioritize instruction, safety and security, and student and staff well-being.     

    Budget highlights investments in early literacy initiatives, career and technical education, cultural arts, school nurse extender positions, an additional school resource officer, and staff stipends for the implementation of weapons detection systems.  

    Next on the agenda was a presentation from OCS Chief Operations Officer Brendan Gartner, who discussed the 2024-2025 Capital Outlay Budget. The capital outlay budget covers the district’s expenses related to maintenance, transportation, paving, roofing, furniture, safety and security and more. Dr. Gartner began his presentation by sharing with the Board and executive staff that the age of all OCS facilities ranges from 1934 to 2022. He also shared that the district is responsible for maintaining 520 buildings, as well as over 1,500 acres of land. The district’s current assets are valued at more than $828 million.      

    Under the current funding agreement with county government, Dr. Gartner said that the district would be receiving $5.5 million for next year’s capital outlay budget. That funding, along with other revenue sources, would bring the district to a total capital outlay budget of $5,557,991.     

    This year, Dr. Gartner said the district received nearly $50 million worth of capital requests from schools and departments across the county. Requests were prioritized by greatest need, requirements by law, instructional and security needs, and the timeline needed. From there, the requests were filtered until there was $5.5 million worth of work to be done. Some highlights of the work to be done with next year’s capital outlay budget include roofing projects, HVAC repairs and replacements, security upgrades, a breezeway enclosure at WOHS, and more.     

    On May 7, the Board will hold a public hearing to discuss the proposed budget and will vote on the budget later that day. Then, the budget will be sent to the county commissioners for their approval, and the budget will be adopted by the BOE in June.      

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