MHHS Dropout Rate is Lowest in School History
Mountain Heritage High School Principal Kevin Huskins reported at the regular meeting of the Yancey County Board of Education on April 7th that the Mountain Heritage High School dropout rate has just been announced for the March 2013-March 2014 timeframe and is the lowest in the school’s history. The previous dropout rate of just over 3% from March 2012-March 2013 improved to 1.6% for this past year.
Across North Carolina the state average dropout rate dropped from 3.01% last year to 2.45% this year. Superintendent Tony Tipton stated, “While Yancey County Schools will continue to improve on that number, it is still great news and this accomplishment is shared by every teacher, every bus driver, and every employee our children come in contact with throughout their years with YCS.
Graduation Date Set
Superintendent Tipton presented a revised 2013-14 calendar to the Board for approval that reduces the number of school days from 180 to 178 instructional days. The Board also approved Saturday, June 14th (11:00 a.m.) for the graduation ceremonies at Mountain Heritage High School. The last day of school for students, currently, is a full day on Friday, June 13th. However, this date could change if more days are missed. Dr. Tipton reminded the Board that we missed a day in late May last year because of flooding.
Support Person of the Year 2014
Dr. Tipton informed the Board that beginning this year, Yancey County Schools will recognize the YCS Support Person of the Year. This came as a suggestion from MHHS Social Studies Teacher Mr. Jim Rose. This recognition is added to the line-up of Principal of the Year, Teacher of the Year, and Volunteer of the Year in an effort to recognize a non-certified school staff member, central office staff member, assistant principal, maintenance, or transportation staff member.
Nominations are currently being submitted by principals and the Board will select and recognize the Support Person of the Year 2014 at the June 2nd regular meeting.
Yancey County Schools are committed daily to each child's education and safety. However, sometimes road conditions force us to delay or cancel school across the county. Because we run buses across the county with only one high school and two middle schools, we cannot develop snow districts where some students go to school and others do not. When we have roads that are not safe in limited parts of the county we can decide to have school, but with no buses on icy roads. This is not an option when large areas of roads across the county are not safe, as was the case last Friday, March 7th. Most of the county had clear or spotty roads; however, the South Toe community main road and many side roads were unsafe for buses and teen drivers. This forced us to call school off for all Yancey County Schools. You might ask “Why not have school in all other schools and let South Toe Elementary make up the day?” Students at East Yancey Middle and Mountain Heritage that live in that area would also be negatively impacted.
As mentioned before, when there is a chance of inclement weather, the process to close schools is a team effort that begins around 4:00 a.m. The Transportation Staff gets out and travels all across Yancey County checking road conditions. Our Transportation Director Kenny Renfro contacts the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the Yancey Sheriff’s Department, and the North Carolina Highway Patrol, as well as national and local weather centers. Our goal is to have a decision between 5:00 and 5:15 a.m. Several buses leave by 5:30 a.m. Please remember, we are trying to make a decision about road safety two or three hours in the future. We greatly appreciate the patience of our staff, students and our parents as we work through this process.
The questions now are “Where does Yancey County stand on days?” and “When will we get out of school for the summer?” Here is a recap of where we stand with our calendar: First of all, the North Carolina General Assembly changed the calendar legislation from requiring 180 days and 1,000 instructional hours to requiring 185 days or 1025 instructional hours. The General Assembly also required us to begin school two weeks later than we have in the past. Due to this fact, our school system opted for a school calendar with 18o days of instruction which allowed us to schedule 1,056 hours of instructional time for the school year. This provided Yancey County Schools with a “bank” of 31 extra hours of instructional time. To date, we have missed a total of 16 student days. Several delays and early dismissals have cut into our “bank of time”. This has resulted in the need to gain some time either during the school day or by adding extra days at the end of the school year, resulting in going later into June.
While we have some hours still “banked”, we still have several weeks of possible inclement weather.
Currently we have begun the process of having Saturday as a make-up day for inclement weather days missed Monday through Thursday. This is not an option that anyone likes but does allow us to make up time instead of extending the school year. North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory announced that he is looking into the possibility of forgiving some inclement weather days seeing that all of North Carolina has been impacted by severe weather this winter. This could allow all school districts to get out of school a few days earlier in June.
Beginning Monday, March 17th, Yancey County Schools will add 15 minutes to the end of the school day through the remainder of this school year. School will begin the same time as always but will dismiss 15 minutes later than normal. Simply put – Parents - pick up your child 15 minutes later than normal and the buses will arrive 15 minutes later than normal.
Adding this time, adds 1 hour and 15 minutes per week for a total of an extra 15 hours “banked”. This adds 2 ½ days of instructional time that can be forgiven by the Superintendent, if needed. This will allow us keep vacation days at Easter and still finish school around mid-June.
Once we hear what the governor decides about forgiving inclement weather days, we will have a better handle of what we can do in Yancey County and when school will end.
Currently our calendar shows Yancey County Schools’ last day at Tuesday, June 17th. This was the projected end date at the start of the year since we began school two weeks later than normal.
Once a decision has been made regarding “forgiven days” by the Governor, an exact last day of school and graduation date will be easier to determine.
The month of January has brought with it several days of extremely cold weather and unsafe road conditions forcing us to miss a total of 10 days thus far this month.
We want to remind everyone that with the passing of Senate Bill 187, Yancey County Schools started school two weeks later than normal on August 19, 2013. As you know, this automatically pushed our end date two weeks further into June. However, with the loss of so many days during the month of January and as in preparing the remaining winter months, we are, as in the past two years, implementing the automatic Saturday School plan.
Any time school is closed Monday-Thursday due to bad weather, Yancey County Schools will plan on having Saturday School. Whenever school is missed on a Friday due to bad weather, the decision to have school on that following Saturday will be decided as quickly as possible. Safety of the roads on Friday and whether they will be clear enough by Saturday to have school will be the main factor in the decision for Saturday School, however, previously scheduled weekend events will also be considered when making the decision. Please remember state law dictates that students cannot go to school more than five days a week. We will follow traditional early dismissal hours for Saturday School – Elementary at 11:30 a.m., High School at 11:45 a.m. and Middle Schools at 12:00 noon.
Based on previous feedback, we understand that Saturday School is not popular, however losing a winter Saturday is preferable over losing Spring Break days or going to school further into June.
This plan will begin February 3rd. As always, parents will be notified by the school system’s phone notification system, as early as possible, when Saturday School will occur. We appreciate the understanding and support from parents and staff. Our number one priority will always be student safety.
East Yancey 8th Grader Cori Letterman, pictured with Principal Angie Anglin and Middle School Art Instructor Keli Miller, is holding a gift of appreciation from the School Board upon being chosen as the Winner for the Yancey County Schools 2013 Holiday Card.
Cori’s artwork was selected from a collection of all middle school art students. Other finalists, whose artwork was featured on the back of this year’s card include: Izzy Davis, Rainey
Silver, and Evan
The Yancey County Schools Superintendent Holiday Card is sent to local and state officials, select vendors and other school systems across the state.
At the January 6th school board meeting the Yancey County School Board votes unanimously to pass a resolution joining with the majority of NC school systems a class action lawsuit filed by the North Carolina School Board Association (NCSBA). The lawsuit filed in Wake County Superior Court challenges the constitutionality of legislation passed by the General Assembly earlier this year that creates a private school voucher program using public funds. Under the legislation, which takes effect in the 2014-15 school year, a private school can receive up to $4,200 in public funding for each eligible student that it enrolls.
A copy of the complaint is posted on NCSBA’s website at www.ncsba.org/voucher
There will not be any additional cost to YCS for joining this lawsuit. The Association’s Legal Assistance Fund will bear the litigation costs. This will be an ongoing issue for some time to come.
Under the mandate of the NC General Assembly’s Read To Achieve legislation and the guidance of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Yancey County Schools will implement a reading portfolio system for third-grade students. This is an opportunity for students to show proficiency in reading over the course of the entire second semester, rather than just a performance on a one-day reading End-of-Grade test (EOG) in the spring. This portfolio process is equitable and uniform for all third-grade students across the state. All third-grade students in North Carolina are still required to take the EOGs, however; a completed portfolio can be considered a good cause exemption from retention for those students not showing proficiency on the Reading EOG. Teachers will begin implementing the portfolio process in late January/early February.
The portfolio has three components:
Component 1 contains assessment data from the mCLASS Reading 3D assessment system that teachers have been using since the beginning of the school year.
Component 2 contains a Personal Education Plan (PEP). This is an individualized plan for students at risk of academic failure. The PEP contains strategies and interventions teachers are using to help students in the area of reading.
Component 3 contains reading passages based on standards from the North Carolina Standard Course of Study that students have been learning this year.
A student in the portfolio process will work on the reading passages throughout the second semester. His/her teacher will determine which passages to administer based on classroom instruction. In order to have a completed portfolio, Components 1 and 2 must be completed by the teacher and your child must show proficiency on 36 reading passages for Component 3. The number of proficient passages was determined by following the exact guidelines of a portfolio as defined by the Read to Achieve law. The reading passages must be completed independently, are untimed, and may not be completed for homework. The passages should be administered as class assignments and as follow-ups to direct instruction on the reading standards. These reading passages are a way for students to show proficiency and be promoted at the end of third grade with a Good Cause exemption.
YCS is following the basic timeline set below:
- January 9-29 2014 – mCLASS Reading 3D Middle of Year Reading Benchmark Assessments given (administered on a 1:1 basis by all K-3 teachers)
- mid-January 2014 – All YCS teachers receive portfolio packets and final training tips for implementation
- 1st Week of February – all parents of K-3 students will receive a “mid-year” Reading Progress Report
- 1st Week of February – all YCS elementary schools will hold “Read To Achieve Information Night” meetings to provide further guidance and answer any questions or concerns. These meetings will specifically target parents of third-grade students
- 2nd Week of February – select 3rd Grade students will begin Portfolio process
- March – May – parents will receive a minimum of bi-weekly updates on the progress of their child’s reading success
For specific questions regarding the Read to Achieve Program, please contact your child’s school.
As the seasons change and the possibility of snow becomes greater, it is time to update everyone of the Yancey County Schools plan for inclement weather days and making up any missed instructional days due to unsafe road conditions. With the passing of Senate Bill 187, effective July 1, 2013, public school systems can have a school start date of no earlier than the Monday closest to August 26 and end date no later than the Friday closest to June 11 (unless a weather related calendar waiver has been approved). Yancey County Schools does have an approved weather waiver which allows for an end of school date past June 11th. This law shifted our
school year by two weeks – our later start on August 19th could result in a June 17th or later end date.
All public school systems must have a minimum of 185 days OR 1,025 hours of instruction. The Yancey County Schools calendar, set at 180 days, exceeds the instructional hours required by the state. Extra hours are used for early dismissals and delayed openings.
These changes to the school calendar requirements have cancelled the need for automatic Saturday School. Please keep in mind that every day missed pushes the last day of school back. That is why it is impossible at this time to project the final last day of school.
With this new plan and the typically unpredictable weather here in Yancey County, there is a possibility that the end of school will be in late June. Parents should keep this in mind when planning your family vacation.
Once winter arrives, employees of Yancey County Schools are on the roads by 4:00 a.m. checking across the county for ice or snow dangers. They coordinate with the DOT and the Sheriff’s Department. While student safety will always be our first concern, every effort is made to have school whenever possible. That may mean calling for a 2 or 3 hour delay in starting school until the roads have been cleared. When dealing with changing road conditions, everyone must remember that buses are on the roads and picking up students 2 hours prior to the scheduled start of school and up to 2 hours after school is dismissed returning students home. This sometimes requires making decisions based on what might happen a few hours later in the day for both the safety of the students, our staff and our bus drivers.
The Connect 5 Call System will be used again this year to notify parents by phone of delays, early dismissals and school cancellations. Parents are encouraged to make sure their child’s school has their latest contact information for Connect 5 announcements.
Other means of obtaining school cancellations and delays include:
School Announcement Line 682-7322
Online at www.yanceync.net
For YANCEY COUNTY SCHOOLS EMPLOYEES
NEW NC-4 WITHHOLDING FORMS IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUIRED
The North Carolina General Assembly recently enacted House Bill 998 which becomes effective for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2014. Under this new law, taxpayers may no longer claim a personal exemption for themselves, their spouse, children, or any other qualifying dependents. Most taxpayers will not be entitled to as many allowances, and as a result, more taxpayers should claim zero (0) allowances. Additionally, many deductions and tax credits that impact North Carolina withholding tax are no longer available for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2014.
As a result of this Act, we must have all employees provide a new Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, either Form NC-4 EZ or Form NC-4. The new form must be completed by the employee and provided to the employer so the correct amount of State income tax is withheld for any payment periods beginning on or after January 1, 2014.
If you do not provide a new NC-4, we are required to withhold based on Single with zero (0) allowances.
Attached are the NC-4 and NC4-EZ forms. For more information on this law and how to complete the forms, you may visit http://www.dornc.com/taxes/wh_tax/newnc4.pdf
If you have specific questions, please contact you tax preparer.
Please return these forms to Daphne Hughes, Payroll Coordinator by January 10, 2014.
At its regular
monthly meeting on October 14th, The Yancey County Board of
Education recognized Margot Atuk, 5th grade teacher at South Toe
Elementary as Yancey County Schools Teacher of the Year 2013.
South Toe Principal
Miranda Elkins introduced Ms. Atuk stating, “I did not know Ms. Atuk before I
came to South Toe as principal but I figured out very quickly her goal in life
is to truly make a difference in the lives of everyone she touches – not just
the children – but everyone she touches.”
recognition, Ms. Atuk stated, “There is no way that I could be standing here
accepting this award without the support of the entire South Toe School
Community, the students, the staff, my administrators and my school board. I am very honored and privileged to represent
Yancey County Schools.” Atuk continued,
“South Toe is a terrific community and Yancey County is an amazing place to
Ms. Atuk will
advance to the regional level of competition next week.
were Yancey County Schools Principals for National Principals’ Month. Dr. Tipton presented each principal in
attendance with a certificate stating, “We acknowledge that the job our
principals do day in and day out every day just gets harder and harder. Our administrators have been very patient
with all the duties that have been added to them and they continue to hang in
School Board Chair
Mike Orr added, “If it were not for our outstanding teachers and the leadership
in our schools, Yancey County Schools would not see the successes that we do in
student achievement every day.”
In the New
Business portion of the meeting, Dr. Tipton informed the Board that Yancey
County Schools is coordinating with the Sheriff’s Office to conduct a rapid response
training to be held on October 25th at Cane River Middle
School. Dr. Tipton reported that this
training will involve staff from all schools across the county as well as
several local law enforcement agencies, emergency responders, and fire departments. The training, which is being held on a no
school day, will simulate a shooter on the Cane River Middle School site and
will provide immeasurable training for law enforcement and school staff
personnel. “It is important for the
public to remember that this is being conducted on a day when no students will
be at school.” Tipton continued, “This
is a wonderful training opportunity for this county and we are asking the
public to please respect the seriousness and value of this training.”