News from the Board -- November 9, 2021

Posted by Jessica wells on 11/10/2021 12:30:00 PM


The Onslow County Board of Education held its regular monthly meeting on November 9 at the Eastern North Carolina Regional Skills Center. Agenda items included an annual independent audit report, discussion of a retention bonus, calendar adjustments, an EC overview, and COVID-19 protocols. Before approving the consent agenda, the Board unanimously voted to move “School Strategic Plans for School Improvement” from the consent agenda to general business.  

To start off the meeting, OCS Chief Communications Officer Brent Anderson presented to the Board a Good News Spotlight segment, which highlighted several Purple Star Schools, two teachers’ science achievements, and the principal of the year. Following the Good News Spotlight, 8 speakers spoke during the public comment period.  

OCS Chief Finance Officer Jeff Hollamon welcomed Dale Smith, of Anderson Smith Wike, PLLC, to the podium for the meeting’s first order of business. Smith presented to the Board the findings of his firm’s recent independent audit of Onslow County Schools’ finances. He said that he and his staff were pleased with their findings and have found that OCS finance staff do a good job of handling district money with integrity.  

Hollamon took to the podium for the next item of general business: a retention bonus for OCS staff. He shared with the Board that staff have worked hard to keep the district going over the past couple of years and that it has been challenging to hire new workers and retain the ones already on payroll. That said, Hollamon and his staff recommended issuing a two-part retention bonus to thank staff for their work and to encourage them to stay employed with the district. The proposed bonus would include $500 at the end of November and $1,000 at the end of June for all eligible employees, both certified and classified.  

The Board unanimously approved the bonus. Hollamon said that the district will continue to look for ways to improve salaries and compensation across the district as we move forward.  

Next on the agenda were recommendations for calendar adjustments. Anderson addressed the Board, saying that the district is aware of several counties in the state that have chosen to change Friday, November 12, the day after the Veterans Day holiday, to a “wellness day,” giving students and staff a much-needed break. With the short notice for families, and the need to maintain instruction at a time of year that already sees many days off, Anderson recommended to the Board that the district change Monday, March 21 from and instructional day to an optional teacher workday. This, he said, would give families plenty of time to plan, and would give teachers a break at a time that would otherwise be a 7-week stretch of no time off. The Board unanimously approved the change.  

Instructional Services presented the next order of business, with Dr. Chris Barnes, executive director of instructional support and EC, giving a brief overview of the exceptional children’s program at OCS. He told the Board that the mission of Exceptional Children Services is “to foster individual growth and success from preschool to graduation,” and shared with them some of the services they offer and the plans they have for improvement.  

In an added item of general business, the Board heard from Executive Director of Elementary Education Dr. Mark Bulris, who shared information on the school strategic plans for school improvement. Dr. Bulris said that these are plans developed by schools that have been identified as low performing to address areas that need improvement. The Board unanimously approved the plans.  

Last on the agenda was a discussion on COVID-19 protocols. After a presentation of current case and quarantine numbers from OCS Superintendent Dr. Collins, the Board unanimously voted to make face coverings optional for staff and students beginning Monday, November 15, and decided to further discuss the necessity of contact tracing at the December 2021 meeting.  


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