School board informed on career and technical education classes

Macon County School Board photo by Vickie Carpenter

Diane Peltz – Contributing Writer

During the regularly scheduled Macon County school board meeting on Monday night, Colleen Strickland, principal of Virtual School Academy and Director of CTE, Testing and Accountability, gave an update regarding CTE (Career and Technical Education) classes. 

Strickland referred to the three R’s, Reopening, Recovering and Revitalizing, explaining that Macon schools were in the Recovering phase. This phase entails, six schools’ full week schedule, eight Pathways, 137 Potential Concentrators, and 232 Potential Credentials. A Pathway is a group of related career specialties within the career cluster. A concentrator is a student who has earned two or more technical credits in a Career Cluster Pathway, at least one of which is a completer course. The CTE Credentialing Program is designed for both new and experienced teachers to earn their Designated Subjects Credential.

The CTE Pathways include, Animal Science, Plant Systems, Natural Resources, Food and Nutrition, Apparel & Textile Production, Early Childhood Development, Healthcare Professional, Biomedical Technology, Carpentry, Welding, Public Safety, Automotive, Project Management, Travel and Tourism, Sports and Entertainment Marketing, and Computer Science.

Credentials included, OSHA’s (Occupational, Safety and Health Administration) 10 hour course, food handler, first aid, CPR, stop the bleed, pesticides, certified guest service professional, hunter safety, national incident monitoring system, community emergency response, 911 basic communication, welding safety, national center for construction education, EXCEL, certified nurse aid, and child development associate.  

Included within the CTE classes are internships, guest speakers, clinical practice, field trips, career fairs, onsite demonstrations and business visits. 

Beginning in 8th grade, students will dive into Major Clarity for an interactive opportunity to identify personal career interests, test drive career pathways, and build a plan of study. Major Clarity helps ensure that every student’s education leads to a successful career outcome-whether through a four-year degree or going into the workforce.  Studies have shown that students only retain 10% of what they read, which is why interactive “test drives” can be critical to driving student outcomes and how to achieve 189% increase in students building career aligned course plans of study. CTE has a career development plan which includes, career readiness, academic planning, college readiness, school leadership, work based learning, and micro-credentials. 

In order to better offer these comprehensive CTE benefits Macon Schools has developed new partnerships with Drake Software, Mission Health, and Southwestern Early Childhood.

CTE is an educational opportunity for those wanting more of a technical career that can also be combined with a college degree. Eight years after their expected graduation date, students who focused on Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses while in high school had a higher median annual earnings than students who did not focus on CTE. 

For more information on CTE visit the Macon County Schools web page or Facebook page. 

School Lunch Prices Increased

David Lightner, School Nutrition Director,  sought approval for several bid renewals for the 2022-23 school year.  The bid renewals were for August Produce – Fresh Produce; PET Dairy – Milk and Dairy; and Coke – Low Calorie Beverages.

Lightner also obtained  approval for a new bid for the 2022-23 school year with US Foods, who supplies a majority of food and supplies. The Lunch Program  procures their food and supplies as a part of the Far-West Co-op, which includes Macon County, Jackson County, Clay County, Cherokee County, Swain County, Graham County, and Cherokee Central Schools.  US Foods has increased the fixed fees from $1.70 to $6.00/case for the upcoming school year, which will cost Macon County Schools an estimated $150,000.  Due to the fact that US Foods was their only bidder, they had no other option but to approve them as their food and supply vendor for the upcoming school year.

For the past two school years during the pandemic federal waivers have allowed the lunch program to offer all students breakfast and lunch at no cost.  These waivers are due to expire, and as a result, school meals will be based upon free, reduced, or paid status for the 2022-23 school year.  The program received approval for a price increase of full paid status lunches to $3.75 for Pre-K-4th grade and $3.85 for 5th-12th grade.  These prices reflect an average of a $1 increase across all grade levels.  The price increase is a result of an estimated $210,000 increase in food cost and wages for the ’22-23 school year.  All students will continue to be offered breakfast at no cost, and the program will be available to help families complete free and reduced lunch applications.  Union Academy and East Franklin Elementary continue to qualify as Community Eligibility Provision schools, which means all students will continue to eat lunch at these schools for free.

Teacher bonuses

Josh Lynch, Associate Superintendent and Homeless Education Coordinator, explained the situation regarding certain teacher bonuses. Per NC SL 2021-8 Section 7.(b), each Local Education Agency is required to provide a signing bonus of at least $1,200 (with total amount to be determined by the local board of education) to any teacher that meets all of the following criteria:

– Is associated with high growth in reading based on EVAAS data;

– Was awarded a reading performance bonus administered by the Department of Public Instruction; and 

– Accepts employment to provide instruction during a reading camp.

Lynch also provided information on the Read to Achieve Camp. The Camp will be for Grades 2-3. The dates will be from July 6-22 from 7:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thirty