The Transylvania Times -

Brevard Academy Moving Ahead With Plan B – Brevard, NC


Last updated 8/3/2020 at 2:08pm

School Director Ted Duncan told the Brevard Academy: A Challenge Foundation Academy Board of Directors in a meeting Friday morning that the school is moving forward to open under Plan B, a hybrid model, next month.

“The large majority feel confident in the plan that we’ve put out,” said Duncan.

Duncan said school staff supported the plan and that 70 percent of the parents surveyed said they want their children to participate in Plan B, in which students will be on campus two days a week and receiving instruction remotely the other three days.

After receiving the surveys from parents, the school sent parents class assignments and the days individual students would be on campus.

“Those got mailed out yesterday (Thursday),” said Duncan.

Duncan informed the board that Henderson County and Asheville City Schools will reopen with 100 percent virtual learning, Buncombe County will reopen under Plan B for the first few weeks but then switch to all virtual learning, and Transylvania County will reopen under Plan B. He said he talked with county Health Director Elaine Russell about why neighboring counties may have gone with those plans and was told that Henderson County has the highest number of elderly care beds in the state and that Buncombe County has a population of 250,000 and millions of visitors each year.

As of last Friday, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Henderson County had recorded 1,363 COVID-19 cases and 53 deaths while Buncombe County had recorded 1,689 cases and 46 deaths. By comparison, Transylvania County had 127 cases and one death.

Duncan said smaller communities and smaller schools can better monitor and respond to outbreaks.

“We need to get kids back in school,” said Duncan, who added the safety of students and staff would always be “at the forefront.”

Duncan presented budget amendments to accommodate the implementation of Plan B. He estimated the additional funding requests, which the board approved, would decrease the projected school surplus from more than $150,000 to approximately $50,000.

Board Chair Mark Campanini said he was wary of committing too much funding to implement Plan B since conditions could change in the coming months. With several of the items, Campanini asked if the services could be terminated or hours reduced if the school had to switch to all remote learning.

Duncan said many of services could be terminated or hours reduced if the school had to transition to all-remote learning. He also said some of the funds could be pulled from other areas and hiring an assistant director position has been put on hold.

The board unanimously approved the following expenditures to implement Plan B:

• $20,000 for a Smart Music program ($10,000) for grades 5-8 and violins for third grade students to participate in a Mountain Strings program ($8,000) with another $2,000 set aside for instrument repairs that some parents may not be able to afford.

Duncan said all music classes would be taught virtually this year, and Smart Music provides in-dividualized music instruction. He said the school is switching to teaching violins this year because it is easier than teaching the proper mouth positioning and breathing techniques for recorders and similar instruments.

He said if the board did not approve the violin appropriation, then third grade music would focus on music appreciation without students learning to play an instrument.

•$30,000 for Rosetta Stone to instruct students in Spanish. The program will cost approximately $19,000, but another $11,000 has been set aside to purchase good headphones for students.

Duncan said since the license Rosetta Stone covers a population range instead of each individual, teachers in the school also would be able to use the online program for themselves.

•A part-time nurse who would work 28 hours a week. The nurse would be on campus the four days of the week that students would be on campus.

•An additional full-time custodian who would be paid an hourly rate. Duncan said $6,000 has been spent on face shields, desk dividers and disinfectant sprayers. He estimated the school would have to spend about $20,000 on cleaning supplies for the year.

•A bus mechanic to be paid hourly. Duncan said some of the buses are getting older. He said, however, the number of bus routes will be fewer. For example, buses would run to the Rosman and Mills River areas just two days a week – the days the students from those areas would be in school.

He also said that since the Boys & Girls Club is not offering afterschool day care this year, that bus route would not be run either.

Earlier in the year, the board had discussed places where the budget might have to trimmed based on a possible decline in enrollment or allocations from the state.

Duncan said he has not received any indication there would be a decrease in allocations and enrollment is holding steady at approximately 420 students.

He added the school could receive some more federal funds when school reopens.

Other News

•Duncan reported the school has been approved for a $600,000 ACCESS Grant.

Duncan said the school has not committed to accepting the grant because it has requirements that could facilitate “unseen consequences.”

He said he would bring those requirements and any concerns to the board at its next meeting, which is scheduled for Aug. 19.

Board member Lee Burgess asked if this is the “right time to tackle this” since there has been so much attention and effort placed on reopening school in August.

“Because we have that approval, I think this is as good a time as any,” said Duncan.

• The board approved the purchase of two large tents that will be used to provide shade during outdoor instruction and other activities.

•Duncan reported that the ground has been leveled and the concrete should be poured this week on a new outdoor pavilion.

The pavilion should be operational by Labor Day.

•Duncan reported that the Kindergarten Jumpstart program “has been going extremely well.”

He said there some concerns about the ability of kindergarten students to follow the COVID-19 guidelines and wear masks.

“Well, they’re wearing them,” he said of the masks. “It hasn’t been the fight that some people anticipated.”


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