The Transylvania Times -

By John Lanier

Board Approves School Calendar


March 7, 2019

The Transylvania County Board of Education unanimously approved the school calendar for 2019-20 Monday evening. The 2019-20 school calendar is similar to the one used this year.

The first day for students would be Wednesday, Aug. 21.

“The midweek start has been pretty positive,” said assistant superintendent Brian Weaver, who headed up the school calendar committee.

Weaver said the first week of school can be exhausting for students, teachers and parents, and starting at midweek is beneficial to all, particularly kindergarten students.

The last day for students would be Thursday, June 4.

Weaver said finishing early in June should once again allow local high school students to graduate at the Brevard Music Center.

The Thanksgiving break would be from Wednesday, Nov. 27, through Friday, Nov. 29.

The winter break would begin with a noon dismissal on Friday, Dec 20. Students would return to school on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020.

Spring break would be April 13-17.

For teachers, there would be four workdays in August prior to the arrival of their students.

There also would be teacher workdays at the end of the first and second quarters, Oct. 24 -25 and Jan. 20-21, respectively.

Teachers also would have four workdays after school is dismissed in June.

Staff and students also would be off Labor Day, Sept. 2; Veterans Day, Nov. 17; and Memorial Day, May 25.

Board member Marty Griffin asked if the school board could revisit the calendar if the General Assembly passes a law giving local school boards more control over their school calendars.

Weaver said the school board could revisit the calendar if the General Assembly changes the law.

Board Vice Chair Ron Kiviniemi, however, said it’s “wishful thinking” that the law will change because Sen. Phil Berger has said bills calling for changing the law would never reach a full Senate vote.

Clean Audit

Terry Andersen of Carland & Andersen, Inc. certified public accountants, gave the school system’s annual financial report for 2017-18 a clean report.

Andersen said the audit showed the school system was in compliance with all applicable rules and regulations and “the board exhibited good fiscal control.”

“It’s good to hear there are no issues or problems,” said Board Chair Tawny McCoy, who praised those in the financial department for their work.

Kiviniemi asked how the school system’s fund balance of 4.1 percent compared with other school systems.

Andersen said the school system’s fund balance is below the average of other school systems. He suggested increasing the fund balance to 6-8 percent of the budget.

2020 Budget

Norris Barger, director of business services and plant operations, said there should be increases in payments for health insurance and retirement benefits.

He also budgeted an additional $66,587 to pay for an English language learner teacher. The figure includes salary and benefits.

At the present time, Barger estimates the school system would need an increase in local operational funding of 3.58 percent or $445,172 to keep pace with state mandated increases and an increase in teacher supplements.

Superintendent Jeff McDaris said the local school system has no control over the increases for health insurance, cost-of-living, retirement benefits and reducing class size in grades K-3.

Barger said the school system could be facing some cuts from local funding because the North Carolina Department of Instruction (DPI) miscalculated the ADM (average daily membership) on the high side last year.

Since the county and school system use a funding formula based on projected ADM, a more accurate and lower ADM for next year could cause local funding to decrease. McCoy said the ADM issue and funding formula are things that need to be addressed with the county commissioners.

Barger said the reduction in student enrollment is not occurring in grades K-8, but in grades 9-12.

McDaris said administrators in Henderson and Buncombe counties are noticing a similar enrollment trend, but do not know why it is occurring in those grades.

Barger said if the school system has to hire more teachers to meet the K-3 class size reduction, the school system would probably cut positions in grades 4-12.

Other News

•The board tabled action on the Department of Transportation’s (NCDOT) offer to purchase a right-of-way in front of Brevard High School for a 10-foot concrete sidewalk.

Per the school board’s request at the last meeting, Barger contacted the NCDOT about the possibility of putting in lights and bollards along the sidewalk. He said the NCDOT did not have money allocated for those purposes.

Barger said he had contacted Brevard City Planner Daniel Cobb and Cobb said he would contact the NCDOT to see if he could make any headway on getting lights and bollards.

Barger also said he talked with Chad Roberson of Clark Nexsen, who had drawn up the conceptual designs for the Brevard High School renovation, and Roberson said putting in a sidewalk in front of the school would not be a problem.

•The school board decided not to change its policy requiring students who participate in athletics to have insurance.

Alan Justice, the athletic director for the school system, said he had learned since the last meeting that the supplemental insurance offered by the school system serves as the primary insurance for students who do not have their own insurance.

The supplemental insurance carried by the school system covers all sports, including football, and is paid out of athletic department funds.

•McDaris reported that the state House has a bill calling for a $1.9 billion school construction bond referendum. He said it is difficult to estimate how much Transylvania County Schools would receive if the bond passed, but estimated it could be between $6-8 million.

The state Senate has a competing “pay as you go” bill for school construction.

•McDaris reported that a school safety bill could provide money for school resource officers (SROs) across the state.

Transylvania County Schools has had an SRO in each school for several years.

McDaris expressed concern that the county might be left out of receiving any new funds for SROS because the county commissioners have been funding the positions for several years.

“We could be penalized for doing the right thing early,” said McDaris.

•McDaris said opioid use is a problem facing rural counties and school systems.

He said a former Transylvania County student in her 20s died last week from opioid abuse and he had two hearings last week involving drug issues.

“Those issues are still right in our faces in rural North Carolina,” said McDaris.

Important Dates

•The next regular board meeting will be held Monday, March 18, at 6:30 p.m. at the Morris Education Center.

•March 22 is a teacher workday.

•Spring break is April 15-19.

•Davidson River School will hold graduation ceremonies on June 6. Brevard High graduation ceremonies will be held June 7 and Rosman High graduation ceremonies will be held June 8.

•From June 17 through Aug. 8, all administrative offices in the schools and central office will be open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m.

The five-day weekly schedule will resume Monday, Aug. 12.


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