The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

January 16, 2013

ECPS discusses 2013-2014 calendar, board policy

The Daily Southerner
MIRANDA BAINES

TARBORO — The 2013-2014 calendar for Edgecombe County Public Schools (ECPS), technology and board policies were primary items of discussion at Monday evening’s brief board of education meeting.

Dr. Renee Franklin, assistant superintendent of educational program services, presented two calendar options to the board.

“The only difference between the two calendars is spring break,” Franklin said. In the first option, spring break is April 14 through April 18 (Good Friday). In the second option, spring break begins on April 21 (Easter Monday). Senate Bill 187 requires the calendar to have a minimum of either 1,025 hours of instruction or 185 instructional days. ECPS’ proposed calendars have both.

“I want to thank the system for sticking with the 185 days,” said Board Chair Ann Kent, noting the additional instructional days reflect the district’s commitment to improving student achievement. Superintendent John Farrelly said he strongly favored retaining the 185 days of instruction, and everyone on the calendar planning committee agreed on that issue. The committee, which included teachers, parents, principals, and central office administrators, met on Thursday, Jan. 10.

Farrelly also noted that the district will have a two-week Christmas break next school year, as compared to this year’s recent winter break, the shortest he recalls in his 12 years in the North Carolina Public Schools. The calendars both have 11 state holidays, eight required work days, 10 vacation days, and three half-days for professional development. The school year will begin on Aug. 26, 2013, and end on June 13. 2014.

Both calendars will be presented to ECPS staff for their review and a draft calendar will come back to the board for a vote at the Feb.11 meeting. To view the calendar options, visit  www.ecps.us and click on “2013-2014 Calendar Options” page.

Consent on a policy change regarding public comments was also on the agenda at Monday’s meeting. The board decided to limit the timeframe for public comments at meetings to 21 minutes, giving seven people three minutes each to speak, but decided to allow the public to comment on any topic rather than limiting comments to agenda items. The board will officially vote on the policy change at its Feb. 11 meeting.

The board also gave its consent of new technology-related policies and will officially vote on the policies at its Feb. 11 meeting. No one commented during the public hearing on the policies, which include Internet safety, technology responsible use, and employee use of social media; for example, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

An update on technological improvements as a result of the district’s Race to the Top (RttT) federal grant, was an update for the board’s information. The district is in its third year of four-year RttT funding, totaling $1,070,030. The district is using $230,000 of that funding to implement a wireless Internet infrastructure at all school sites.

“I’m glad to report that all of our middle schools are now wireless,” Franklin said. “Mr. Ed Chase [director of technology] and his team are now working on the elementary schools and they should be wireless within the next couple of months, as well. Of course, you know our high schools are already wireless.”

In other business, Farrelly gave an update on the district’s crisis management protocol, in response to the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14, 2012, which sent a “shock wave” across the country. The week following the Newtown tragedy, each school had a crisis drill and a law enforcement officer was stationed at every school. The district is in the process of reviewing its crisis management plans.

The board also recognized the following schools/ individuals:

G.W. Carver Elementary School, for raising the most funds for this year’s United Way campaign -- $2,075. The district raised a total of $5,765.95 for United Way, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of residents of Edgecombe and Nash Counties.

Amanda Evans of G.W. Bulluck Elementary School, ECPS’ 2012-2013 teacher of the year.

Bernadine Lewis, assistant principal of SouthWest Edgecombe High School, the district’s employee of the month

Shawna Andrews, Ed Chase and Janet Morris, central office staff, for graduating from the Six Sigma program

Dr. Cindy Bennett, director of the Strategic Twin-Counties Educational Partnership, an organization dedicated to improving education in the Edgecombe and Nash-Rocky Mount school districts through collaboration between the two counties.