Diane Peltz – Contributing Writer
The Macon County School Board met on Monday, Oct. 15. On top of the agenda was the recognition of the Principal of the Year, Teacher of the Year, and Support Person of the Year. Dr. Baldwin presented Michelle Bell, principal of Iotla Valley Elementary School with a certificate of recognition along with Teacher of the Year Cindy Dryman from South Macon Elementary and Support Person Lillian Gerber from Franklin High School.
A presentation on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was given by Rick Norton. He spoke about new treatment options for those suffering with PTSD. This program treats sufferers by having them write down their traumatic experiences. In a book entitled “Brothers Like These” stories relating to PTSD have been compiled and will be read by Vietnam Veterans at FHS on Oct. 27 at 6:30 p.m.
PTSD can affect anyone suffering a traumatic experience, it is not just for veterans, but statistics show that veterans suffering from PTSD who don’t receive treatment, commit suicide at the rate of 20 per day. More than 500,000 vets do receive treatment but this program offers alternative treatment without drugs. The School Board will recognize Oct. 27, 2018, as PTSD Awareness Day and the Superintendent will distribute information concerning the same within Macon County Schools as he deems appropriate.
Several field trips were approved at this meeting. Franklin High School had several out of town swim meets approved along with two cheerleaders going to the Charlotte Hornet Honeybees spirit day camp. The FHS volleyball team will be going to Clemson University with their parents to watch a college volleyball game.
Mountain View Intermediate (MVI) will be sponsoring a trip to Disney World for six students who would otherwise not be afforded the opportunity to travel and learn through different experiences. MVI will also be taking 68 students to Gatlinburg, Tenn., for a 5th grade science trip to observe marine ecosystems and dissect sharks and examine their body systems.
Nantahala School’s Social Studies Class will be visiting the Young Harris College Planetarium with 26 students to see the solar system from a different perspective.
Fundraisers were next on the schedule. Approved was FHS Future Business Leaders of America’s (FBLA) request to raise funds for Alzheimer’s awareness. A concert featuring Jay Allen will take place in late February or early March. Tickets will be on sale shortly. Maggie Baldwin, a senior at FHS and student of FBLA was at the meeting and introduced herself to the board.
FFA (Future Farmers of America) also requested to hold a fundraiser to raise money for competitions. On Oct. 26, the Agriculture building will be turned into a haunted house. It will be family-themed and students will be in charge of implementing and planning the event along with several parents. Admission will be $3 each. This will take place just before the Franklin vs. Pisgah football game and will close 30 minutes before the game starts.
Highlands School will be hosting a fundraiser at Ugly Dog Restaurant, Sports Page and Mountain Fresh to raise money for the 5th grade annual Charleston trip, which is slated to cost $539 per person. Several more fundraisers will take place at the school later in the year. The school will also be raising money for Junior and Senior Prom expenses with a Valentine’s Day event. The middle school Student Government will be hosting a pet supply fundraiser to help the Appalachian Animal Shelter with pet needs.
Macon Middle School Science Department will host a fundraiser by having a dance for the 7th and 8th graders to raise money for needed materials throughout the school year. Admission to the dance will be $5 and the event will last two hours. The yearbook committee will also sponsor a dance later in the year to help raise money for their yearbook.
Mountain View Intermediate School will be holding a fundraiser to help repair school instruments and to purchase Xylophones. They will have a catalog sale during the months of November and December. MVI will also be raising money to sponsor their field trip to Disney by posting on the website donorschoose.com. This site was created to help teachers raise money for class needs.
The board resolved the school budget for the 2018-2019 school year. Macon County Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin stated that funding for the schools has improved and this was the best year that he has seen so far. Although the budget has improved, he gave an example about how spending works.
“We spend $52 per student per day. This includes bus rides to and from school, meals once at school, keeping the hallways and facilities clean, electric bill payment, support personnel, extracurricular activities and that is all before school even begins. Then you have your teachers, Para-professionals, books, supplies etc.”
He compared the rate of student spending to that of an inmate where prisons receive $80 per day per inmate.
Several schools had their School Improvement Plans (SIP) approved. They were Cartoogechaye Elementary, FHS, MMS, MVI and Union Academy. East Franklin Elementary also submitted their SIP. Landon Holland, principal of East Franklin spoke about how he and his team decided to work on 12 indicator keys out of a choice of 132. He said they will focus mainly on five keys. A program called NC Star will be available for parents and the public to view to track the progress being made. The teachers on the SIP team felt that these indicators were the strongest keys to work with to help with student achievement goals. East Franklin Elementary had received a school grade of “D” and by law, had to adopt a plan to improve their grade.
The Driver’s Ed program has secured a contract with Western North Carolina Driving School. This contract will run until the end of the school year only. A decision for the 2019-2020 school year for a Driver’s Ed instructor has not been determined at this time.
A discussion of security measures for FHS ensued. Security at the main building of the high school is almost complete. Fencing is up as are access control gates. More lights have been added along with a 911 upgraded system. An anticipated completion date was not available. National Communications Inc. is working on the security for FHS.