JEFFERSON — The Ashe County Board of Education met in a regular session meeting on Aug. 1 at the annex of Ashe County Schools.
Those present were Chair Josh Roten, Vice Chair Dianne Eldreth, Polly Jones, Dr. Kim Simmons, Wes Cornwell and Superintendent Dr. Eisa Cox.
The meeting began with a list of upcoming dates from Cox.
Upcoming dates and events are as follows:
- Aug. 2–4 – New Teacher Orientation (at ACHS)
- Aug. 9-10 – Administrative Retreat (Directors, Principals, Assistant Principals)
- Aug. 13 – Back 2 School Blast 10 a.m. — 2 p.m.
- Aug. 11 – 12th Optional Teacher Workdays
- Aug. 11 — Open House AEC 5 – 7 p.m.
- Aug. 15–19 — Required Workdays
- Aug. 15 — Science of Reading LETRS Kickoff per school. 8:30 a.m. at Westwood, 10:30 a.m. at Mountain View and 1:30 p.m. at Blue Ridge. Special guests will be present at all 3 kickoffs NCDPI Read to Achieve Implementation Coordinator Kelley Bendheim, she will be visiting each school as part of the kickoff. The session will be approximately 90 minutes.
- Aug. 16 – 8:30 a.m. PD for grades 7th – 12th, all Middle and High School teachers (at ACHS)
- Aug. 16 – ACMS Open House – Time TBD
- Aug. 17 – High school only Capturing Kids Hearts
- Aug. 17 – Open House pre-K
- Aug. 18 – Open House, 4 — 6 p.m. at MVES, 4:30 — 6:30 p.m. at WWES, 4:30 — 6:30 p.m. at BRES and 5 — 7 p.m. at ACHS.
- Aug. 19 – Convocation (at ACHS) Be seated by school (seating chart forthcoming) in the auditorium by 1:55 p.m.
- 2 p.m. – Welcome, Speakers, Ignite Session
- 3:30 p.m. – T-shirt handout and drone picture
- 4:30 p.m. – Tailgating, Cookout, Games, Music
- 7:30 p.m. – ACHS Home Football Game – all staff members wearing the new T-shirt given out at convocation will be admitted for free.
Cox then shared that the 2022-23 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant program was approved by the State Board of Education on July 7. This grant will allow Ashe County Schools to provide free after school care for students in each elementary school.
“We are so excited to be offering that care for our kids,” said Cox.
Owner Representative for the new middle school Allison Kemp-Sullivan then gave an update on the middle school project.
“A preliminary budget was put together for a 168,000-square-foot building, which is about double the size of the current middle school,” said Kemp-Sullivan. “That does address sixth, seventh and eighth grade. We’ve met with the design team and we’ve been tasked to find ways to make that more efficient, to reduce the building size and to reduce the budget.”
She then stated that the Ashe County BOC has reaffirmed their commitment to the middle school project and will support their allocation of up to $50 million with no tax increase. The total project budget of $90 million will cover design fees, pre-construction expenses, construction costs, furniture, equipment, contingencies and additional escalation. If construction costs shift downward, the budget will be adjusted accordingly.
ACHS Athletic Director Brian Hampton then held a presentation on athletics with a recap of the previous year and what is to come this year.
He recognized Emily Hartsoe, who is now a four-time state champion, winning three of those this past year in indoor shot put, outdoor shot put and outdoor discuss. Hampton also recognized the wrestling team for winning the conference championship, becoming conference tournament champions and finishing runner up in the west region.
The wrestling team made it to the west finals, the volleyball team made it to the third round of playoffs, the girls basketball team made it to the second, boys basketball made it to the first and the cross country women were also state playoff qualifiers.
In the postseason, 10 wrestlers qualified with Matthew Peterson finishing third in the state, 23 track athletes qualified, 18 cross country athletes qualified, two golfers qualified and four tennis players qualified.
In addition to the successes, 49 athletes were recognized as all-conference performers.
Hampton also addressed some issues, including a helmet shortage, which he stated was taken care of, repairs to the track surface and the lack of rest room facilities at the baseball, softball, soccer and tennis areas.
“We’d like to figure out a way to provide better facilities to our athletes,” said Hampton. “Hopefully we will kickoff the school year right. I really believe that how you do athletically in the fall sort of sets the stage for how your school year is going to go. It creates pride in our building.”
The meeting then moved into action items which began with the approval of minutes and personnel.
Director of Human Resources Roy Puttman then presented a Memorandum of Understanding for the New Teacher Support Program which has provided mentoring, coaching and professional development for all of the county’s beginning teachers for the previous two school years. Ashe County Schools partners with Appalachian State University for these support services so as to provide our beginning teachers with top-notch support during their first full three years of teaching, so as to hopefully keep more new teachers in the field. Each new teacher is provided opportunities to attend two BT Summits each year, receive weekly coaching and ongoing personalized professional development throughout the year. This program is funded through a partnership with Gear Up and Title II funds at no cost to the local district.
“This is the most effective support that they’ve received,” said Puttman. “This is no cost to our local district and it’s allocated specifically for improvement, retention and training for our teachers.”
The MOU was approved.
Two more MOUs were then presented for Career and College Promise and the Ashe County Early College MOU with Wilkes Community College.
The Career and College Promise Program offers structured opportunities for qualified high school students to dually enroll in community college courses that provide pathways that lead to a certificate, diploma, degree or state/industry-recognized credential as well as provide entry-level job skills. The Memorandum of Understanding between AEC and WCC sets the parameters for operation between the two, which allows selected students to study academically at both the high school and college level.
“We have two amazing high schools with very different experiences, however both of them are valuable and we want our kids to have the best experience that they can,” said Cox. “The great thing is, for the kids who did not get into the Early College this year, at the high school, once they become a junior, they are eligible to take career and college promise classes.”
Both MOUs were approved by the board.
The meeting continued with the approval of graduation policies, student transfer policies and weather waivers.