Diane Pelz – Contributing Writer

The Macon County School Board met on Tuesday, Aug. 21, with a fairly light agenda on tap most likely due to a previous special meeting held just a few weeks before on Aug. 9. With many issues already out of the way the board began implementing and approving several administrative tasks. First on the agenda was a video from Union Academy’s School Resource Officer Anthony Zari. He explained his vision for a new program called “Molding Tomorrow’s Leaders” (MTL) which is designed to encourage students to think about their futures and get them on the road to achieving success in all aspects of their lives. The program will assist students in becoming productive workers and leaders in the community. The goals of the program will include creating a culture of respectful relationships; managing feelings and accepting responsibility for emotions and behaviors; teaching strategies to resolve conflict; knowing the difference between abusive and non-abusive relationships; promoting the consistent message that violence is not acceptable; and providing the stability and support they require to succeed. Two meetings will be held each month on the second and fourth Tuesday. The second meeting will be a “fun day” but in order to attend this meeting the student must have attended the prior work meeting. The program will consist of other SROs assisting along with community members and guest speakers that may include teachers, administrators, community members and law enforcement. A complete outlay of the program will be made available to board members. A point system program will be part of the contract that Union Academy students and parents will sign. Program expenses are being covered by private donors bearing no financial responsibility to the school system. After a short closed session, the board resumed to discuss overnight/out-of-district field trip requests. Approved were Dwight Long (FHS Women’s Soccer) to accompany 25 students to Clemson University for a team bonding and tour of the college. Jenny Collins (FHS Agriculture) had several approved requests including accompanying eight students to the National FFA (Future Farmers of America) Competition in Indiana; and bring eight students to Guilford County to compete in the State Land Judging Competition. She will also take four students to Raleigh to attend the State FFA Poultry Judging Competition. Finally, Jenny Collins will accompany 20 students to Raleigh to attend the FFA State Convention. Chris Green, Highlands School Social Studies teacher, was approved to accompany 48 students to Washington DC in January to tour the US Capital which will include visits to various monuments, the Holocaust Museum and Arlington Cemetery. The next order of the day was the Fundraising Activity requests on behalf of Jenny Collins and Blake Fox representing Franklin High School (FHS) Agriculture and FFA. The hope is to raise enough money to fully fund the expenses for students going to the State and Regional Competitions. Approved were several events including T-shirt sales, Christmas tree sales, fall and spring bake sale at Tractor Supply Company, Rodeo, Raffle ($100 gift certificate to Fox Mercantile), Boston Butt sales, Fat Buddies Night, FHS PlantSale and Chicken Dinner Plate. Cartoogechaye Elementary School’s Fundraising request was also approved. Their agenda will include T-Shirt and fleece jacket sales, Charleston Wrap, Crazy Wig, Father/Daughter Dance, Santa Shop, Dominos Pizza and a St. Patrick’s Day Dance. The school also plans to inquire to local businesses to donate a portion of their profits to Cartoogechaye PTO. Approval was granted to Macon Middle School’s Band Director Thomas Graham, who will be holding a fundraiser to help purchase tubular bells or chimes, percussion instruments which are needed for band. Students will be selling food items from Great American Opportunities. “Student’s profit margin is 40% meaning they can probably reach their goal with this one event,” states Graham. Ideally this will start by early September. Personnel Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin’s contract was extended for the next three years with an ending date of June 30, 2020. The personnel report for retirees and new hires included the retirement of long time FHS Driver’s Ed Teacher Alton Sutton who will be retiring at the end of the year. There are no plans to hire a new Driver’s Ed Teacher, instead the district will be accepting bids from private contractors to take over the program. James Taylor will be taking over the position of Guidance Counselor at East Franklin Elementary School. Macon Middle will be getting a new head coach for boy’s basketball and two assistant coaches. Brandon Williams will be head coach while Nathan Ruby and Taylor Brackett will be assistant coaches. Aaron Rinker was named head coach of the Macon Middle School tennis team. Franklin High School will be hiring Isidro Vargas as assistant coach of the varsity women’s soccer team. Jeff Pendergrass will be coming on board at East Franklin Elementary School as 12-month custodian. Some vacancies have yet to be filled for several positions but the board hopes to have them filled, through ongoing interviews, by the start of school. Board policy There was no shortage of policy adoptions including school trips, drivers, use of student transportation services and transportation services/vehicle contracts that had been taken up at the previous meeting and approved at this meeting. A handful of minor updates were accepted as a second reading. Included in this group was the voter registration policy which forms a committee of social studies teachers to collaborate with the local board of elections to facilitate and encourage voter registration and preregistration for students ages 16 and older. Student records policy calls for all student records to be current and maintained with appropriate measures of security. The community use of facilities policy will assure indoor and outdoor facilities be available to eligible community groups. The vendor list policy will provide opportunity to responsible suppliers to do business with the school system and the governing principle-removal of barrier policy which includes but is not limited to prohibition against discrimination, harassment and bullying of staff and students. Several other policies will be taken up at a second reading in September. The board also entered into a contractual agreement with Lewis Gary Brown to provide instructional services, assigned by the superintendent, on a temporary part-time basis beginning Aug. 13 and ending May 31, 2019. Brown will be responsible to ensure that all policies and procedures are being adhered to. Kathy Breedlove’s contractual agreement involved being assigned as a School Counselor on a temporary part-time basis for Macon Early College. The agreement begins on Aug. 13, and ends June 7, 2019. A business agreement with Macon Citizens Habilities, Inc. (MCH) was entered into for the duration of the school year. During the 2017-2018 school year MCH provided supported employment services to six Occupational Course of Study (OCS ) students at Franklin High School. These students received services and were successfully placed in jobs out in the community. All three of these students have retained their jobs past the school year and have made a competitive wage throughout the summer. One student who loves to read and obtained an unpaid internship at a local bookstore also retained her volunteer position for the summer. Although the bookstore could not hire the student as a regular employee she is now being paid in “books.” All students in the program reported being happy with their placements and showed increasing confidence, self-direction, and responsibility. They gained more experience working in the community as well as informal training on independent living skills. A lease agreement was entered into with Macon County and the Business Development Center for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) educational purposes to house electronics and technology instruments for the program. Previously Ms. Love, STEM Coordinator, was looking to relocate the robotics program so that Tektone would still be able to support the program. This facility solves the previous “lack of space” issue and will be large enough to store the needed materials. An agreement was reached with Western Carolina University (WNC) Speech and Hearing Center and Macon County School System to provide audiological services for the 2018-2019 school year. Another contract was entered into with the Macon County Board of Education and Western Employee Assistance Program for an annual fee of $6400 to provide services to employees experiencing a variety of personal problems. The contract will run for a five-year term. The PTO Board Member Contract was upheld for Macon Early College, South Macon Elementary, Macon Middle School, MountainView Intermediate School, East Franklin Elementary School, Highlands School, Cartoogechaye Elementary School, Nantahala School and Iotla Valley Elementary School. Franklin High School and Union Academy do not have active PTOs. The meeting concluded with a discussion regarding the blackout at the Franklin High School football game the previous week. Apparently a 600-amp breaker overloaded and kicked off the stadium lights just before the end of the game. The board members discussed keeping the 600-amp breaker or using LED lighting and two 400-amp breakers. That way if one breaker kicks off, there is a backup breaker. A discussion with a Duke Energy representative will take place to see which scenario is more feasible. The meeting was adjourned and the next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 24 in Highlands.