At a special meeting on September 19th, the Yancey County Board of Education made the historic decision to close three of the county’s oldest elementary schools.
Having spent the past month reviewing the impact study as presented by Superintendent Tony Tipton on August 22nd, the school board voted unanimously to close and consolidate Bald Creek, Bee Log, and Clearmont Elementary Schools into one single elementary school to be built on the west end of the county.
The Resolution as adopted by the Board regarding this action named a projected timeline of closing the schools at the end of the 2017-18 school year (June 2018), and opening the new elementary school with the beginning of the 2018-19 school year (August 2018).
In order to meet this timeline, the school board needs to move forward as quickly as possible in finding land on the west end of the county.
A press release issued August 1st indicating the search for land for a new elementary school did result in a few properties being submitted for consideration, however, with the decision to move forward with consolidation and construction, there is now an earnest focus on contacting realtors and individuals who may have property that meet the required criteria of:
1. 15-20 acres
2. Lie as close in proximity as possible to 19E
3. No flood zone
In addition to finding land, the school board will now begin the process of architect selection. Superintendent Tipton is reaching out to other counties in the state who have had recent elementary construction projects to obtain information on how to be better prepared in moving forward with this project.
6th Grade Participation in Middle School Sports
At the September 6th school board meeting the board heard from the athletic directors and administrators from both middle schools and the athletic director from the high school about the option for local school boards to allow 6th graders to participate in all middle school sports.
In early August the NC State School Board voted to allow individual school systems to decide whether to let 6th graders participate with 7th and 8th graders in all interscholastic sports, except football. Traditionally, only students in 7th through 12th grades in North Carolina public schools were allowed to participate in interscholastic athletics.
At the meeting, the three schools provided the school board members with an overview of how each school feels on the issue. MHHS Athletic Director, Joey Robinson pointed out pros and cons for both sides of the issue. He also urged caution as Yancey County moved forward. He did not want to see YCS make any decision before all options had been studied.
Dr. Tipton updated the school board with information from a joint meeting held August 17th in Mitchell County with representatives from all three counties of the Toe River Conference. At this meeting all three superintendents attended, as well as athletic directors and some school administrators to discuss the pros and cons. This meeting ended with early indications that Avery County will allow 6th graders to participate this school year while Mitchell and Yancey were leaning more towards not allowing them at this time - but being willing to revisit this issue in the future.
After hearing from the superintendent, the three schools involved in Yancey County sports, and concerns voice by parents in attendance, the Yancey County School Board voted to form a committee, chaired by Joey Robinson, with members from the two middle school coaching staffs, athletics directors, and parent representatives to study the issue and present their recommendation at the October 10th school board meeting.
“We know that some of the school systems close to us have decided to allow 6th graders to participate but the majority of the school systems that we have spoken with are doing the same as Yancey County, waiting and studying” said Tipton, “Anytime we make a decision of this magnitude for our students, it will be well thought out and planned.”
This entire 6th grader participation came about over small charter schools not having enough athletes to offer some sports. They wanted to be able to allow 6th graders to participate to have enough players to have various teams. The NC State Board in an attempt to be fair and consistent, decided if they were going to allow charter schools they would give the local public school boards the power to decide for themselves.
YCS Director of Student Services, Angie Anglin, and Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Shane Cassida, presented to the Board the 2015-2016 NC READY Testing results. “We are pleased to report that every public school in Yancey County either met or exceeded expectations for their students’ academic growth last year. All nine schools work towards a common goal, producing a successful high school graduate. Yancey County Schools tied for seventh place in the State for again having 92% of students graduating. The consistent academic performance and student growth we have seen in previous years certainly continued in 2015-2016. However, we are never satisfied, and we are currently working on ways to grow and improve as a system as we strive to reach our own high standards,” said Anglin.
2016-17 Budget Resolution
School Finance Officer Robbie Renfro presented the 2016-17 Uniform Budget Resolution that was approved by the Board.
Return to Learn Concussion Protocol
School Nurse Shea Laws presented a new “Return to Learn” Concussion Protocol Administrative Procedure developed by the school nurses over the summer months. School staff across the county are being trained by the school nurses on the appropriate protocol to assist students, who have sustained a concussion, in a positive and successful return to full academic workload and classroom time at school.
GearUp Program Update
GearUp Director Eric Klein and coordinators Samantha Briggs and Kristen Robinson provided an annual update to the board on the GearUp Program which provides college campus exposure and opportunities to middle and high school students in the county.
On Monday, August 22, 2016, the Yancey County Board of Education held a special meeting in the auditorium of Mountain Heritage High School to hear the results of an impact study on the possible consolidation of elementary schools in the county.
Superintendent Dr. Tony Tipton presented his findings on the study to consider the consolidation of Bald Creek, Bee Log, and Clearmont Elementary Schools into one single new elementary school on the west end of the county as well as a study to consider the consolidation of Micaville and South Toe Elementary Schools into one single new elementary school on the east end of the county.
Presenting to the school board and less than twenty members of the public, Dr. Tipton shared information he had compiled following guidelines and procedures from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, School Planning Section.
Items discussed included the continuing decline in student membership which is being experienced across the state as more charter, private, and home schools are being created for primary education.
Also presented was student operating costs by school showing a range of per student education cost of the lowest at $5,900 - Burnsville Elementary to the highest of $9,100 -Bee Log Elementary, with other schools falling between.
Transportation concerns as well as geographical considerations of new school sites were discussed as well as factors that will need to be considered should the board decide to consolidate, purchase land, and build a new school.
After presenting the impact study, the floor was opened for questions from the board, the public and for public comment.
In closing the meeting, Chair Mike Orr indicated to those in attendance that the Board will take the information presented in this meeting, study and deliberate, and return to a special meeting on September 19, 2016, in the auditorium at Mountain Heritage High School at 6:30 p.m. to either make a final decision or request another study from the superintendent.
Full copies of the Superintendent’s Impact Study as well as the final Facility Evaluation for Yancey County Elementary Schools as completed by Architectural Design Studios can be found on the Yancey County Schools website www.yanceync.net.
Anyone who has been unable to attend these meetings on the elementary facilities but has questions may submit those in email to firstname.lastname@example.org or in writing to PO Box 190, Burnsville, NC 28714. Questions should be submitted by Wednesday, September 14th. Responses will be provided during the Community Question and Answer portion of the September 19th meeting.
Bald Creek Elementary “Lil Eagles” Preschool is housed in the former Bald Creek Region D Building on Pleasant Valley Hill Road, near Bald Creek Elementary School. Extensive improvements and remodeling have been completed over the past year in preparation for the opening of the new preschool. Teacher LynnAnn Hilemon and Teacher Assistant Tyler McIntosh welcome all new “Lil Eagles” who began staggered enrollment on August 24th. Principal Sherry Robinson stated, “We are excited about this opportunity in our community through Yancey County Schools. This Pre-K program will help prepare students for entry into the regular school setting during their kindergarten year.”
Burnsville Elementary “Lil Bobcats” Preschool is housed inside the Burnsville Elementary School building. Renovations have been completed to accommodate 3 and 4 year old students including a separate entrance, a fenced-in, age-appropriate playground, as well as appropriate size sinks and toilets. “Interest has been incredible in this program,” stated Burnsville Principal Barbara Tipton. “We are to capacity and look forward to other schools expanding and adding their preschool programs in the future.” Preschool Teacher Kim Hodgin and Teacher Assistant Gayla Hughes welcome all new “Lil Bobcats” to the new program at Burnsville Elementary this year!
Attending the ceremonies were school board members Mike Orr, Norb McKinney, Angie Weatherman and Bill Whiteside as well as Superintendent Tony Tipton, Pre-School Co-Directors Cynthia Deyton and Shane Cassida, PreSchool Data Specialist Becky Tschudy, and staff from each school.
Also attending were Jason Ratliff and Chris Duncan from Woodmen Life Insurance Society who presented each preschool with a new American Flag to be flown on site.
“While there are quality preschools in Yancey County, we are excited to add these two new locations to reach more preschoolers,” stated Superintendent Tony Tipton. “While there has been a strong interest from the community, we do still have a few spots available. Anyone interested in enrolling a three or four-year old in the YCS preschool program should contact Becky Tschudy at 682-6101, ext. 319.”
School Board Chair Mike Orr stated, “These preschools have been a long-time coming and by adding them to the existing “Lil Cougar” Program at Mountain Heritage, Yancey County Schools can now accommodate up to 36 three and four-year old children. We are very excited about this new program.”
There will be an informational meeting regarding the elementary school facilities needs on Thursday, July 21st in the auditorium of Mountain Heritage High School.
This meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. and time will be allowed for a question/answer session.
The two previous mid-month meetings allowed for public input, which by policy, prohibited school board members from answering questions from the public.
This informational meeting will allow for a true question and answer session. Members of the community will be able to ask school board members or the architect firm specific questions regarding the evaluation of our elementary schools and future plans.
On Monday, June 20, 2016, the Yancey County Board of Education met in the Mountain Heritage High School Auditorium to hear the second report of the Facilities Needs Assessment from Architect Mike Cox and Associate Amy Dowty of Architectural Design Studios.
Attached is the Powerpoint document as presented by Mr. Cox and Ms. Dowty as well as the four-page pamphlet handout provided by Architectural Design Studios.
There will be a public meeting held in mid-July regarding the future plans for our elementary schools. This meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium at Mountain Heritage High School. The date for this meeting will be announced at a later time.
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