The Elkin Board of Education held its monthly meeting Monday to discuss upcoming projects, events, and organizations in the school system as well as to wish everybody the best of luck as the school system propels itself into the 2016-17 school year.
Britt Shaw, chief technology officer, recognized the technology department and its contributions during the board spotlight.
“It gives me great honor to recognize the technology staff tonight,” said Shaw. “When I first came, years ago, we had only about 600 computers. Now we have 1,300 computers, 256 wireless radios, we do all the phones, we do a little bit of everything. We have a lot of responsibility we didn’t have years ago. We couldn’t do it without all these people here. It would be a lot slower and a lot less efficient around here.”
Members of the technology department — Britt Shaw, Ricky Roope, Amanda Herl and Scottie Moore — received recognition for their duties and services to the schools.
Several recent events and celebrations were recognized during the good news presentation.
Elkin Elementary School had a big move recently. Teachers, administrators and even some of the football players helped out during the moving day to move 22 different classrooms around on one day from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. All the grade levels are now organized differently.
Teacher positions have all been filled with licensed staff.
“I’m glad that the district continues new teacher mentorship beyond one year,” said Dr. Don Martin, interim superintendent. “I had a chance to meet our six new teachers this year and I’m very impressed with their commitment to the field.”
The board members congratulated everyone on the success of Monday morning’s convocation and how it demonstrated a lot of support for young people. The board also recognized convocation’s two main guest speakers , Gary York and Chad Tidd.
BB&T gave a $1,000 grant to help create a new sensory classroom at Elkin Elementary School.
A staff presentation was held by Angela Land, director of student services, on the annual student wellness policy report for 2015-16.
“Part of the policy that all elementary students receive at least 150 minutes of weekly physical activity, that is not with the PE feature,” said Land. “The requirement is 30 minutes a day, including energizers, programs and other physical programs. The healthy act of children policy states that exercise is not enacted as a form of punishment. We also will not allow competitive foods to be sold during the day, only healthy cafeteria foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Contracts to get some more of the healthy foods. Work is also being done to reduce fat, sugar and heavy salt foods.”
In the discussion items, the board discussed the policy made by the State Board of Education regarding the adopted addition to allow sixth-grade students to participate in middle school sports. The policy includes all sports except football.
“It was a surprise move in their meeting in August,” said Martin. “A lot of districts have been discussing the action and I can say a lot of these requests are coming from smaller charter schools who need the extra students to fill their teams.”
“It’s a new wrinkle to middle school sport,” said Tony Duncan, athletic director of Elkin Middle and High School. “Most everyone this year agrees that doing something this year is a bit late in the game. I’ve been to two meetings on the issue between middle and high school and both groups agree that this is a bad time to implement this. It would be too difficult to try to install this system this particular academic year due to funding for programs, facility use worries, and parent worries about the teams. Are we going to turn this into a high school setting where you have different teams? If you put a sixth-grader on a more advanced team in a competitive situation, I’m not so sure that that’s fair game. Many of our eighth-graders are a lot bigger than our sixth-graders. There are a lot of questions that have yet to be answered.
“My opinion, at this point in time, I’m afraid to venture here right now. We need to collaborate with other people to find out if this is the best decision and we can explore the avenue more in the future as we get into the winter months. We will not allow sixth-graders to participate in this particular league this year.”
The board talked about website designs for updating the school websites and looked at some of the more costly redesigns. Shaw gave a presentation on different websites and themes being used by other nearby school systems. He compared prices for two different web developments companies, School Wires and Edlio.
It costed $19,000 for the existing web page back in the 2006-07 school year.
“There are thousands of different themes and formats we could use,” said Shaw. “It’s not just an overnight process. They also push responsive design a lot these days where your web page will re-size itself for different screens from tablet to computer.”
It will cost $5,000 a year to maintain the standard site from school wires. Schools would provide easier training and usability for staff and teachers, spending several hours preparing users on the operation of the site. Shaw said Edlio looks more professional and more current. They also seem very customer service oriented. While Edlio doesn’t provide as much training, anyone can call them 24 hours for support, he said.
“Teachers can add their web pages more easily in a new system,” said Shaw. “Right now our teachers use a lot of Google sites. One thing to keep in mind is the less expensive we go, the less features we’ll lose, such as columns, art spaces, and info boxes.”
The board reviewed the proposed process for the adoption of the 2017-18 school calendar as well during the meeting.
“I have just a suggestion for a simple way to do it,” said Martin. “I would suggest that we come up with two to three variations within the statute and have each faculty vote on them, put them on the website, and allow parents to offer feedback and give their preference. There will be some miscellaneous information. Then, we’ll take a look at all of that and assemble it for an overview and look at the final options. We can get on that process very quickly. It’s a little bit different from getting a calendar committee together.”
Troy Brooks may be reached at 336-258-4058.