Elkin City Schools students may be enjoying their summer break, but work does not stop for the Elkin City Schools Board of Education. The ECS board held its monthly meeting on Monday, July 26, to discuss several issues dealing with personnel policy prior to the beginning of the 2010-11 school year. Among the topics discussed were policy updates regarding personnel leave and absences. Elkin City Schools Human Resources Specialist Donna Puckett presented the proposed changes to the Board of Education. Puckett stated that the changes to personnel policy clarified the definition of several types of leave. Most notably among the changes were, what Puckett called, major revisions to employee medical leave. According to Puckett, the new standards are intended to guide employers on how the process of their employees medical leave works. She said that these federal government guidelines were instituted to streamline the process of determining medical leave for employees. Puckett also said that personal leave eligibility is more clearly defined under the policy changes. The policy now better identifies when an employee is eligible for personal leave and how state funds are used to support personal leave days. Another personnel policy change sought to define at what number of working hours unemployment compensation for substitute teachers occurred.The board decided that a substitute teacher must work 30 or more hours per week to receive unemployment compensation. On a separate note, Puckett also offered a policy change that would allow the school board to decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not a student listed as a registered sex offender can attend school. The measure, applicable only to persons 16 years of age and older, raised the question among board members if the school would be obligated to inform parents if a student registered as a sex offender attends Elkin High School. Puckett told the board that she was unsure of an exact answer to the question and would inform them of the response at a later time. Another policy change announced by Puckett clarified the district's definition of weapons and explosives. Puckett said that the policy needed clarification because some student and community groups, such as Boys Scouts of America, creating small, contained explosions on school property. Puckett said that such an event would have possibly violated the schools former weapons policy. Returning to personnel-related issues, Elkin City Schools Director of Business and Financial Services Jan Zachary announced the implementation of a new program to record employees hours at work. Zachary said that employees at all three Elkin schools will need to log-in to the program, TimeKeeper. Zachary believes that TimeKeeper will allow employees to be more exact in recording their hours and reduce the burden of keeping a timesheet. We need to make certain that our employees are meeting all of the [NC] labor laws, said Zachary. Zachary said that TimeKeeper also has the benefits of allowing employees to visit a secure site online and immediately check over their hours and see their paychecks before the checks are actually processed. Employees will be able to view and print their W-2 forms online, too. Zachary said that the program would even improve school safety since a principal can view the TimeKeeper system to see which employees are in the school building at any given time. The institution of TimeKeeper also means that Elkin City Schools will no longer be printing paper checks for its employees. Payment will be recorded electronically, allowing the school system to cut out the costs of paper and postage used for checks from its budget. On another issue of business introduced to the board, Zachary announced the budget resolution for Elkin City Schools for the 2010-11 school year. The school systems overall budget for the upcoming year would total $14,428,528 reported Zachary. The topic of free and reduced student lunch also came before the school board. Elkin City Schools Child Nutrition Director Debbie McCoin stressed the necessity of finding innovative ways for parents to submit free and reduced lunch applications. McCoin stated that one method for ECS to encourage parents in need of the free and reduced lunch for their children would be to have the forms placed alongside other paperwork at school open houses. We have a lot of problems sometimes with getting applications back, said McCoin. McCoin said that parents often feel unnecessarily embarrassed to complete and return free and reduced lunch forms for their children. She asserted, however, that only she and the schools financial officer have access to which students have assistance in paying for school meals. We want to communicate to parents that its okay to mail the [free and reduced lunch] forms back, bring them back [to the schools], whatever they want to do, added Elkin City Schools Superintendent Dr. Randy Bledsoe. In other business, Elkin City Schools Career and Technical Education Director Barbara Long reported that Elkin High Schools 2009-10 VoCATS scores continued to climb from previous years. Long stated that Elkin High Schools VoCATS test scores showed 89.4 percent overall proficiency in the past academic year. The lowest VoCATS scores at EHS came in agriculture with only 65.9 percent proficiency, although Long said that these scores were low statewide. Business education, on the other hand, showed the greatest rate of proficiency at 97.4 percent. Long also presented on a topic entitled, A Crisis of Relevance. The title of the presentation was drawn from a larger study written by NC State Superintendent June St. Clair Atkinson entitled, A Crisis of Relevance: How NC must innovate to graduate all students career- and college-ready. Atkinsons study is the emphasis of all N.C. public schools in the 2010-11 school year, as they prepare students for the increasingly more competitive workforce and college applicant fields. According to Long, Elkins focus for the program will be to educate students on what jobs are out there, especially at a time when there arent many jobs out there. Long then presented on the ways in which Elkin High School will adapt its career and technical education curriculum to cover the state programs objectives of entrepreneurship, curriculum expansion in VoCATS-tested areas and student accountability. Following Longs presentation, Elkin City Schools Director of Maintenance Ron Mack gave a brief presentation on the progress of the ongoing construction at Elkin High School. In the boards Good News Items, Elkin High School principal Mark Byrd and Elkin High School Career Development Coordinator Patsy Burgess recognized four students for their participation in the countywide Camp Med program. As a part of the program, the four EHS students, Elise Corregan, Adana Gonzales, Shanlyn Wagoner and Calvin Yarboro, gained firsthand experience in the medical industry at Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital, Surry Community College and Wake Forests Baptist Medical Center. The Elkin City Schools Board of Educations next meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Monday, August 23, 2010 at the Elkin City Schools Administrative Center. For more information, call 835-3135.