The Transylvania Times -

Academy Board OKs Conditions For USDA Loan - Brevard NC


Last updated 4/8/2020 at 2:56pm

In a special meeting last Thursday afternoon, the Brevard Academy: A Challenge Foundation Academy Board of Directors unanimously adopted a resolution approving a letter of conditions (LOC) for a Rural Development Community Facilities loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The school financed its campus on the Hendersonville Highway through Challenge Found-ation Properties and has been working to have the loan switched over to the USDA.

The terms of the USDA loan, if approved, would be for $7 million at an interest rate not to exceed 2.375 percent per annum. The principal and interest would be repaid over 35 years.

The letter from Pamela Hysong, area director for Rural Development for the USDA in Asheville “establishes conditions which must be understood and agreed to by you before further consideration may be given to the application” and that “This letter is not to be considered as loan approval or as a representation as to the availability of funds.”

The letter also states that an appraisal prepared by Batson Company has confirmed the present market value is $7 million.

“Everything is trucking along in a positive direction right now,” said board member Lee Burgess, who serves as board treasurer and is the head of the school’s Finance Committee.

Distance Learning

School director Ted Duncan said the school started distance learning at the end of March and it has been going well thus far.

He said the school is using Seesaw for students in kindergarten through second grade because it has more pictures and videos that are applicable to students in those grades.

The videos also do not have to be uploaded because they exist within the Seesaw application.

Students in grades 3-8 are using Google classroom.

Duncan said he sent out a Frequently Asked Questions column about Google Classroom on the school’s weekly electronic newsletter, as well as hosting Zoom meetings and taking phone calls from parents twice each weekday morning and twice each afternoon. Duncan said plans are being made to set up personalized tutoring for those students who need it and parents can call in at certain times to receive assistance.

Duncan said the school would not be implementing “synchronous learning,” where teachers conduct live lessons on the Internet with their students because a lot of families do not have “normal schooling hours.” As an example, he said both parents in one family are first responders, so they are not home until the end of the day.

“We don’t want to put up any barriers to learning,” said Duncan.

Board member Julie Gaston asked if the school was having virtual classrooms from which the teacher was conducting the lessons or if the assignments are being put online and parents having to teach the lesson.

“There’s a mixture of both going on,” said Duncan.

Gaston said it would be beneficial if parents knew if the teacher or parent is going to provide the instruction.

Duncan said Gov. Roy Cooper has said that parents are “really home school teachers right now.”

Gaston asked if teachers could be brought up to speed on recording lessons in the next six weeks.

Duncan said teachers could be brought up to speed on using those technological techniques, but reminded board members that teachers are also at home parenting their children, running households and thinking about their own health.

He said the assignments that have been presented to students have been “rigorous” and “high quality.”

Duncan reiterated his concern that putting interactive teaching lessons online would place potential barriers for some students.

He also said the school was just one week into using distance learning and soliciting feedback from parents.

“We’re all feeling our way through it right now,” said Duncan.

In regards to some non-academic matters, Duncan said, “We have done a lot of facility updates.”

The floors and classrooms have been thoroughly cleaned and some touch-up painting has been done.

The front office is still operational from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and guidance staff is also working with students.


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