Return to Headlines

News from the Board -- March 10, 2020

 

The Onslow County Board of Education held its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, March 10 at the Eastern North Carolina Regional Skills Center. The meeting’s agenda items included a census presentation, an instructional technology highlight, 2020-2021 tuition rates, the Head Start Project approval, and Dixon-area redistricting.  

Following former OCS Superintendent Rick Stout’s portrait presentation during the Good News Spotlight, the Board heard from OCS Chief Communications Officer Brent Anderson, who delivered a presentation on the upcoming 2020 census.  

During this “Census Moment,” Mr. Anderson presented data from Onslow County’s 2010 census results that identified the county’s most difficult populations to count. The areas identified as low response targets following the 2010 census include the military bases, Southwest, Georgetown, East Northwoods, rural Richlands, Tract 22 (Western Blvd. To Brynn Marr and Country Club area), Hunters Creek, Piney Green and the Swansboro waterfront. In addition to those areas, the Census Bureau has identified veterans, those with a lack of trust in the government, renters, the homeless or displaced, minority populations, immigrant communities and children 0-5 years old as difficult to count. It is estimated that there were as many as 8,000 small children in Onslow County left uncounted following the 2010 census.  

It is estimated that, due to uncounted residents in 2010, Onslow County missed out on $402 million in state and federal funding over the past decade. To prevent Onslow County’s population being underestimated again in 2020, Mr. Anderson said that he and other members of the Complete County Committee are working to educate residents on the benefits of the census and clear up any misconceptions people may have.

The Complete Count Committee would like for you to know:   

  • If you live in Onslow County, you count here.  
  • Military families should know that counting yourself in Onslow County will not affect residency or tax status.  
  • Families with children should count all of their children on their census form, including those under the age of 5.  
  • The 2020 census will NOT have a question regarding citizenship status. 
  • Employees of the Census Bureau will be visiting homes in hard-to-count areas.  

Next, OCS Chief Technology Officer Jeff Pittman presented to the Board information about his department and the work they have been doing. Mr. Pittman shared that he and his staff are responsible for 27,000 computers, more than 800 network switches, 2,000 wireless access points, 1,800 phones, intercoms, and classroom technology like interactive whiteboards, projectors, printers, and more.  

In the work they do, Mr. Pittman said that he and his staff have two primary goals: Impact Instruction and Impact Business. OCS Director of Digital Learning and Teaching Stephen Taylor said that the IT department impacts instruction by ensuring accessibility, equity and portability while increasing student engagement. Mr. Taylor said that tools like Microsoft Teams allow students to interact and collaborate like never before, making them more engaged with the material.  

Mr. Pittman said that to reach their goal of impacting business, they are technical support for all district staff, streamline communications, and improve efficiency. The accomplishment Mr. Pittman said he is most proud of is the more than $5 million in infrastructure upgrades his department has made over the past 4 years, by finding federal funding sources.  

Following Mr. Pittman’s presentation, OCS Chief Finance Officer Jeff Hollamon presented to the Board his recommendation for the 2020-2021 tuition rate for out-of-county students. The proposed rate was $2,204, which the Board unanimously approved.  

Next on the agenda was a presentation from Luisa Davis, OCS Director of Early Childhood Initiatives, regarding the grant approval for the 2020-2021 Head Start Program. In her presentation, Ms. Davis shared details of the grant proposal, including a breakdown of how the $1,949,833 grant award would be used. She also shared the program’s four main goals over the next five years, which includes: enhancing the delivery of developmentally appropriate curriculum, strengthening classroom and center communities by utilizing research based practices and resources, enhancing family engagement and educational opportunities, and enhancing community partnerships to assist families in accessing community resources. The Board unanimously approved the plan.  

In its final order of business, the Board approved Scenario 1(A) as the redistricting plan for the new Coastal Elementary School, which will open to students in the southern part of the county in August 2021.  

At the meeting, OCS Chief Operations Officer Steve Myers presented the Board with scenarios 1(A) and 2. Scenario 1(A) splits the existing Dixon Elementary district in half and does not include pulling any students from Southwest Elementary to Coastal Elementary. Scenario 2 would have split the Dixon Elementary district in half the same way as Scenario 1(A), but it would have included pulling 18 students from Southwest Elementary to attend the new school.  

When the new redistricting plan goes into effect for the 2021-2022 school year, fifth grade will be moved back into the elementary schools from Dixon Middle School, the population of Dixon Elementary will reduce to 635 students, and Coastal Elementary School will open with a student population of approximately 658.  

The redistricting plan was approved with a 6-1 vote. Board member Jeff Hudson was the dissenting vote, citing concerns about the new district's line near the Southwest community and travel times for families in that area.