State Funded Driver Education Ending

posted Apr 7, 2015, 6:05 AM by Xan Robinson

After June 30, 2015, North Carolina will no longer fund Driver Education for public, private, home or charter schools, yet, Driver Education will still remain a requirement for anyone under age eighteen to get a permit or license.

Funded since 1977 with funds from the Highway Trust Fund, NC Legislatures have opted to make Driver Education funding a non-recurring expense as of June 30, 2015.  Three dollars of the Highway Trust Fund came from each license plate sold in North Carolina.  The fee was levied in 1977 to pay for driver education and this amount will remain a part of license plate fees, however, it will not be funding teen driver education. 

Driver Education has been a right-of-passage for generations of teen drivers in North Carolina.  With funding eliminated, each school system will still be required by North Carolina General Statute to continue to offer Driver Education and under current law, can charge a student up to $65.00.  The local system then must make up the difference “with available funds”.  Most school systems across the state believe the cost to the school could be $200 or more per student. 

North Carolina has a graduated licensure program which requires 16 and 17 year olds to complete Driver Education to get a license.  No training is required once they turn 18 years old.  Lee Roy Ledford, owner of Mountain Professionals, the Bakersville-based driving school that contracts with Yancey County Schools as well as eight other school systems across Western North Carolina, states “Without professionally-trained driving experience, we believe the number of traffic incidents and fatalities among teens will skyrocket as well as increase car insurance rates across the board.”  Ledford adds, “Driving is no longer a luxury in today’s world, it is a necessity.  Teaching teenagers how to drive is more complex than it was 30 or 40 years ago.”

Yancey County Schools Superintendent Dr. Tony Tipton stated, “We are carefully watching a bill that has been filed in Raleigh that would restore this funding.  We hope there is enough support for the bill to pass and fund Driver Education.  This is simply one more financial blow to public school systems and the parents of students in North Carolina.”




posted Apr 2, 2015, 8:23 AM by Xan Robinson

When school begins this August, all incoming Kindergartners across the state who enroll in a North Carolina Public School will be given the new Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA).  The KEA is designed to give teachers a better understanding of the developmental status of each student’s early childhood school readiness.

In 2011, the NC General Assembly passed the Excellent Public Schools Act, and as part of that legislation the Read to Achieve Program was initiated.  This program, in its second year of implementation, sets third grade reading standards for all students as well as assigns individual schools A-F grades on the NC School Report Cards that were released in February of this year.

The state law requires that all students entering kindergarten must be screened in early language, literacy, and math skills within the first 60 days of enrollment.  The KEA is based on language, cognitive ability, motivation in learning, physical well-being, motor skill development, and social/emotional development.  Ultimately, this data is attempting to give the teacher a picture of the “whole child” as they enter public school.

The General Assembly Act will require Yancey County Schools to add the KEA in addition to the existing K-3 mCLASS Reading 3D Assessment and the K-2 Math Assessments.  The impact on classroom time and instruction has yet to be determined.  Yancey County Schools will hold the annual Kindergarten Registration Kickoff on Thursday, April 16th at the Town Center beginning at 12:00 noon and lasting until 3:00pm.  Then from 1:00 to 6:00 pm, registration will be held at all YCS elementary schools.  Parents must register their child in the district in which they live.




Inclement Weather and the School Calendar

posted Mar 6, 2015, 4:46 AM by Kay Ball   [ updated Mar 6, 2015, 4:50 AM ]

Warmer weather last week and the time change over the weekend are reminders that spring is just around the corner. While spring will certainly be a welcome change, the results of the harsh weather since Christmas must still be addressed on the Yancey County Schools calendar. NCGS 115c-84.2, the state law on school calendars, states that the closing date for students shall be no later than the Friday closest to June 11. This statute also states that public school calendars must have a maximum of 185 days OR a minimum of 1,025 instructional hours. 

In order to meet the requirements of this statute and provide the best possible education for the students of Yancey County, this current school year began with extended instructional time each day. (This extended time was introduced last March and worked well to meet requirements for last year’s school calendar.) This extension of instructional time each day has allowed YCS to “bank” hours, assuring our students receive the full 1,025 hours required in NCGS 115c-84.2. While YCS has traditionally counted the number of days students attend school, it is important for parents to understand that the number of hours students are in school is now what is used to meet state law. When approved by the School Board last March, the 2014-15 YCS school calendar provided 180 days / 1,106.25 instructional hours for students – “banking” over 80 extra hours.

The unprecedented cold weather, snow, and unsafe road conditions in January and February have resulted in a great deal of lost school time. As of March 4th, YCS has had a total number of 29 days impacted by inclement weather. Of those 29 days, 19 have resulted in school closures. With 10 days built into the original 2014-15 school calendar to allow for bad weather, the loss of 19 days has forced school administration to use “No Days”. Each “No Day” extends the school year one day further into June.

With so many days lost, many are asking “What about Saturday School?” and “Will we lose our Spring Break?” Superintendent Tony Tipton said, “Because we have a bank of instructional hours, it is not necessary at this time, to consider having to use Spring Break days - but, we are making Good Friday a full day of school now (originally a half-day for staff and students). Recovering this half-day of time is the equivalent of one Saturday School.”

Regarding Saturday School, Tipton stated, “We always want to get the best value out of our instructional time with students and Saturday school attendance is typically very low. If March and April bring spring snowstorms as we’ve seen in the past and Saturday school or the loss of a couple of day of Spring Break does become a reality for YCS, we ask for patience and support from our parents, staff and students as we deal with this ever-changing calendar.” Tipton added, “I apologize for not giving a more definitive answer about Spring Break, graduation, and the last of school. Once we see how the weather impacts the calendar through March, we will be able to set graduation and the last day of school in early April.”

Two Great Events to be Held for Up Coming Kindergartners

posted Mar 2, 2015, 9:26 AM by Kay Ball

Yancey County Schools Kindergarten Registration Kick-off to be held April 16, 2015, from 12:00 - 3:00 p.m. at the Burnsville Town Center

Either before or after registering your child for Kindergarten on April 16th, come join us for a fun-filled afternoon at the Burnsville Town Center, 12:00 - 3:00. Activities scheduled are Police Department completing fingerprint kits; police car and firetruck; school bus safety activities, Buster the Bus, a school bus tour; face painting along with balloons, games with Yancey County Schools PE staff; Learning Centers, art activities, and much more. Vision screenings will also be on hand. 

Yancey County Schools Kindergarten Registration to be Held
April 16, 2016 from 1:00 – 6:00 P. M.

Registration for all children who will be entering kindergarten for the 2015-16 school year will be held in each Yancey County elementary school on Thursday, April 16, 2015, from 1:00 – 6:00 P. M. 

The parent or guardian must bring the following documents to registration:

Child’s birth certificate (certified copy preferred; mother’s copy acceptable)
Child’s social security number and Medicaid ID number (if applicable)
Student residence verification(two items of verification – see below)

The NC Kindergarten Health Assessment Report along with the immunization record signed by doctor/certified nurse practitioner are required for enrollment. If possible, bring the completed Health Assessment Report with you to registration. The NC Kindergarten Health Assessment Report is available on line, from health care providers, and at local elementary schools. 

Any child entering kindergarten during the 2015-16 school year must be five (5) years of age on or before August 31. The current statute specifies a single entry age for enrollment in a public school and designates kindergarten as the initial point of entry into the system. 

Certified copies of your child’s birth certificate can be obtained from the Yancey County Register of Deeds for child born in a North Carolina county. 

All kindergarten children must comply with the state immunization guidelines and Health Assessment Law. North Carolina General Statute 130A – 441 requires children entering school to have both the kindergarten health assessment form and their immunization records completed and up-to-date by the first day of school. Parents must make sure the information recorded on the child’s immunization/health record is signed by a doctor or certified nurse practitioner or registered nurse who meets the North Carolina Division of Health Standards. This form can be downloaded on the Yancey County Schools website.The form is also available at most health care providers and will be available on Kindergarten registration day, April 16th.  For information or questions regarding the immunizations and health assessments, please contact the school or Yvonne Hardin, RN, School Nurse, at 828/675-4161. Parents or guardians who are unable to bring the required immunization records and health assessments records to the kindergarten teacher before school is out this year should wait until school opens in the fall to bring these records. During the summer, buildings are being cleaned and materials may be misplaced. 

Student residence verification must be submitted to the school when registering for kindergarten or when enrolling your child in Yancey County Schools for the first time. The verification of address must be accompanied by any two of the following items:
  • Property tax records which indicate the street or road address location of the residence
  • Copies of mortgage documents or copies of the deed of property which indicate the street or road address of property
  • Copy of residential lease showing residence address
  • Copy of current driver’s license showing street or road address
  • Current utility bill showing residence address
  • Copy of voter registration form showing street or road residence address
  • Copy of automobile registration showing street or road address
Failure to provide the student residence verification information requested may be result in the reassignment of the student to another school or the suspension of attendance privilege until the necessary information is provided.

Parents requesting student transfer must first register the child in the school district in which the child resides. Transfer requests are available online. The transfer request form must be completed by the parent, signed for approval by the principal of the school requested and the principal of the school from which the student is transferring, then submitted to the YCS Board of Education for approval. A Request for Transfer can be denied by the principal of either school or by the YCS Board of Education.

For questions regarding general registration information contact your child’s school. Forms and general information are also available on the Yancey County Schools website.

Bald Creek Elementary Awarded $80,000 NC Title I Reward School Grant

posted Feb 2, 2015, 11:59 AM by Kay Ball

Last week, Yancey County Schools was informed that Bald Creek Elementary School has been awarded an $80,000 NC Title I Reward School Grant. Bald Creek Elementary has been named a NC Title I Reward School for the 2013-14 school year, a distinction given to the Top 10% of NC Title I Schools for sustained academic performance and/or student growth. Within that group of approximately 120 schools, the top 10% of the Reward Schools became eligible for the NC Title I Reward School Grants based on a school portfolio submitted to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s Federal Programs Office in October. Furthermore, the portfolio, along with an onsite interview from an NCDPI Federal Programs team, will be used to select North Carolina’s two Title I Distinguished Schools to represent the state at the National Title I Conference held later this year. Bald Creek is still awaiting to hear the outcome of that selection process.

Principal Sherry Robinson was obviously ecstatic over the announcement. “This grant is representative of the hard work and dedication of the faculty, staff, and students of Bald Creek Elementary School. We will use this grant to continue providing the best instruction each day in hopes of always improving as a school,” said Robinson. “We are proud of Bald Creek’s accomplishments this past year, and we certainly hope that we can see the effects of this grant five to seven years down the road as they continue to strive towards excellence,” said Dr. Tony Tipton, Superintendent of Yancey County Schools. The school must now develop a plan to use the grant to continue to provide high quality instruction to the students and professional development to the faculty and staff over the next 27 months.


posted Jan 21, 2015, 11:08 AM by SHANE CASSIDA

Curriculum Director Shane Cassida informed the Board at the January 5, 2015 meeting that the members of the Credit by Demonstrated Mastery District Team consisting of himself, Student Services Director Pete Peterson, MHHS Principal Kevin Huskins, Cane River Principal Alton Robinson, East Yancey Principal Angie Anglin, and Career and Technical Education Director Cynthia Deyton had developed and were requesting Board approval on the YCS Credit by Demonstrated Mastery (CDM) Plan.  Mr. Cassida continued that this plan would allow students to earn credit in a particular course without require “class seat time”.  Mr. Cassida shared in a PowerPoint presentation information detailing that for the 2014-15 school year, two courses – Microsoft Office (CTE) and Civics/Economics are offered for CDM.  Mr. Cassida added that the district team would meet in the summer of 2015 to determine the success of implementation and the possibility of adding additional courses and access to middle school students for CDM.  Mr. Cassida then detailed the requirements for a student to earn CDM and there was discussion regarding this opportunity for students.  The District Team will report back to the Board the progress and implementation of this plan.  The following link provides the detaild Credit by Demonstrated Mastery Plan for Yancey County Schools.

Bus Drivers Training Class

posted Jan 14, 2015, 10:54 AM by Kay Ball

Yancey County Schools will be hosting a School Bus Drivers Training Class on February 9th, 10th and 11th.  The class will be at Yancey Mayland Campus Room 122. Time: 8:30-3:00.

For more information call Yancey County School Bus Garage at 828-682-2167

Data Shows Yancey County Schools Making the Grade

posted Jan 7, 2015, 2:34 PM by Kay Ball

At the January 5th Yancey County Schools Board Meeting, Shane Cassida, Curriculum/Instruction Director, and Pete Peterson, Testing/Accountability Director, presented the preliminary results of the NC General Assembly’s School Performance Grades for the 2013-14 school year. The Department of Public Instruction has delayed the release of the official grades until February 5th, 2015 due to changes in the calculation formulas presented in the original legislation, the Excellent School Act of 2012 (GS 115C-83). 

Cassida and Peterson explained that the nine public schools of YCS, six elementary, two middle, and one high school, of the district were graded on a variety of performance criteria, the majority of which involved assessment data from the End of Grade (EOG) and End of Course (EOC) Accountability Program. The EOGs and EOCs went through a “re-norming” process before the 2012-13 school year that significantly increased the level of difficulty in the content being assessed and a higher proficiency standard that students have to meet in order to “pass” the assessment. As expected, all districts throughout the state, including YCS, saw declines across the board in 2012-13; however in 2013-14, as predicted the individual schools and Yancey County Schools as a whole saw increases in proficiency (passing the test) and a dramatic increase in growth (improvement in performance).

These increases from the school system have coincided at a time when the county is facing very difficult challenges as a community. The Public School Forum of North Carolina recently released the “Roadmap of Need – 2014”, an in-depth assessment of 20 different indicators (economic, health, education, etc.) that affect success for youth. According to this data, Yancey County youth face severe economic hardship as the county ranks 61st in childhood poverty, 65th in median household income, 77th in adult unemployment, and 95th in childhood food insecurity among North Carolina’s 100 counties. Yancey ranked 84th in terms of overall health and wellness factors for the community at-large as well. On top of these challenges, YCS faculty and students are asked to produce 21st Century work in a mid-20th Century infrastructure, as the average age of the school buildings in YCS are 62 years old, what is believed to be the oldest average age of any district in the state. The rapid deterioration of these buildings has forced the system to make difficult financial choices in the midst of overall economic hardships at the local, state, and national levels while still trying to maintain positive economic outcomes. Even the geographical layout of the county presents an obstacle as the YCS Transportation department runs buses on more miles of road than most other district in North Carolina. Needless to say, Yancey County Schools faces a unique set of barriers each day the school doors open.

The General Assembly’s School Performance Grade is assigned based 80% on the school’s proficiency on all EOGs/EOCs and 20% on the school’s growth in performance on those EOGs/EOCs. The High School formula also takes into account the performance of students on the ACT College Entrance Exam and students’ ability to take and pass upper level mathematics courses. Cassida and Peterson further explained that the legislation calls for each elementary and middle school to receive a letter grade for Reading and Math individually in addition to the overall school letter grade. For the 2013-14 year only, the General Assembly’s School Performance Grade will be on a 15-point grading scale. In succeeding years, the legislation calls for a return to a traditional 10-point grading scale. The projected grade for each school and the district for the 2013-14 school year are as follows:

Mountain Heritage HS B
Cane River MS C
East Yancey MS B
Bald Creek ES B
Bee Log ES B
Burnsville ES C
Clearmont ES D
Micaville ES C
South Toe ES B

“We are certainly concerned, as are all school systems in North Carolina, going into the process that the grading system from the General Assembly will not accurately portray the quality education students receive each day in Yancey County. Given the challenges a rural school system faces in trying to meet the demands of a 21st Century education system, we are pleased with our relative ranking in the state. However, we are never satisfied with our work, as we see areas that need improvement and have already started to address those needs,” said Dr. Tony Tipton, Superintendent of Yancey County Schools. “The General Assembly’s grading system is what it is, and it is a factor that is out of our control. Instead, we wish to focus in Yancey County on the parts of our work that are within our control, namely improving our instruction each and every day for each student,” Tipton continued.

How Yancey County Schools Compare to the 100 other County School Systems

Yancey County Schools’ overall student achievement in all tested subjects (End of Grade tests, 3rd-8th grades & End of Course tests, 9th-12th grades) indicate that our school system is one of the most successful school districts in North Carolina. There are 115 public school systems in the state of North Carolina made up of 100 County School districts and 15 City School districts. There are also over 125 individual charter schools in the state’s public education system. To simplify and to draw a fair comparison using this large amount of information, the data in the following section only includes the 100 county school districts. While there are many areas where our students have excelled, the data also points to specific areas that are being monitored for improvement.

Of the 100 county school districts across North Carolina, Yancey County ranks 9th in overall student achievement. In other words, Yancey County students scored better in North Carolina’s testing program than 91 other counties. The data shows that Yancey county students did very well in the areas of Math and Science which are key subjects for developing “globally competitive” students. Yancey County Schools Graduation rate is 92.1 which is 7th highest in the state.

Yancey County students performed very well on the End of Grade tests at the elementary and middle school level when compared with the other 100 county school districts. At the elementary school level, our 4th grade and 5th grade reading scores are in the top 12 of the 100 counties. Our 5th grade Science scores are 8th best in the state.
Yancey County students really excel at the middle school level in comparison with the rest of the state. For 6th grade, 7thgrade and 8th grade Math, we rank 4th, 3rd, and 5th respectively. In 6th grade reading, our students scored 5th highest in the state.

Mountain Heritage High School’s End of Course test results are also impressive. When compared to other county school districts across North Carolina, Mountain Heritage’s combined EOC results rank them 8th overall. For Biology, Mountain Heritage has the second highest test scores in the state. MHHS also ranks in the top 25 for student achievement in English II.

There are approximately 2,023 individual schools, including charter schools that participate in North Carolina’s End of Grade (grades 3-8) and End of Course (grades 9-12) testing program. When we dig deeper into the data, we can see many areas where Yancey County’s public schools are shining examples of excellence. When we look at individual schools EOG scores by grade level, Yancey County has individual schools that are in the top 150 in the state at almost every grade level 3rdthrough 8th grades.

The charts below provide a more detailed look at how Yancey County compares with the other 100 County School Districts.

Subject Areas 100 County School Districts
All Subjects 9th
Reading Overall 13th
Math Overall 9th
Science Overall 5th
Graduation Rate 7th
Grade Level EOG Scores 100 County School Districts
3rd Grade All Scores 50th
4th Grade All Scores 10th
5th Grade All Scores 18th
6th Grade All Scores 3rd
7th Grade All Scores 6th
8th Grade All Scores 8th
Reading Scores 100 County School Districts
3rd Reading 46th
4th Reading 11th
5th Reading 12th
6th Reading 5th
7th Reading 11th
8th Reading 17th
English II 24th
Math Scores 100 County School Districts
3rd Math 54th
4th Math 14th
5th Math 44th
6th Math 4th
7th Math 3rd
8th Math 5th
Science Scores 100 County School Districts
5th 8th
8th 16th
Biology 2nd

Other Indicators of YCS Excellence

“We understand that there is much more to a quality education than just test results. A high-performing, 21st Century school provides a well-balanced program that produces globally competitive students, which is not always shown in numbers alone,” Peterson explained. He went on to explain that the community-school model that has always been at the heart of education in Yancey County Schools has proven effective beyond the sheer numbers. In light of that, Cassida explained that each school asked parents on “Parent – Teacher Day” in October to participate in a survey to “grade” their child’s overall school experience. The results of those surveys were as follows:

Overall Instruction (out of4.0 scale) Overall School (out of 4.0 scale)
Mountain Heritage HS B(3.4) A(3.5)
Cane River MS A(3.5) A(3.6)
East Yancey MS A(3.5) A(3.7)
Bald Creek ES A(3.9) A(3.6)
Bee Log ES A(4.0) A(3.9)
Burnsville ES A(3.6) A(3.6)
Clearmont ES A(3.5) B(3.4)
Micaville ES A(3.7) A(3.8)
South Toe ES A(3.8) A(3.7)
Yancey County Schools A(3.7) A(3.6)

South Toe, Micaville and Bald Creek Elementary Schools all received recognition as a Title I Reward School, with Bald Creek receiving a nomination as a “National Title I School of Distinction” for 2014-15. East Yancey Middle school is one of only three schools in North Carolina to be designated as a “National School to Watch” for 10 consecutive years. All YCS elementary and middle schools received recognition in the Positive Behavior Intervention and Support Initiative (PBIS). South Toe is one of only two schools in the state that has maintained Exemplar status for the past seven years. East Yancey has held Exemplar status for the past six years.

As a final sign of the overall health of the district, YCS just completed a once every five year Federal Programs Monitoring Visit and received “No Findings” – the only system to receive such a distinction in 2014. This includes an overall monitor of how the system addresses the needs of our most at risk populations. The report concluded that YCS is going above and beyond to meet the needs of all students.

“The data and information collected over the past few months, from assessment data to parent survey data, only prove what we believed going into this process…the taxpayers of Yancey County can be assured that the investment they are making is paying off with proven results. We have nine quality schools that are meeting the needs of students, and we will only work to improve each day,” Dr. Tipton concludes.

Holiday Card Winner and Runner-Ups

posted Dec 4, 2014, 11:33 AM by Kay Ball   [ updated Dec 4, 2014, 12:04 PM ]

Middle school art students participated in a holiday card contest. East Yancey Middle School student Dawson L.'s drawing of an elaborate snowflake was selected as the winner and will be printed on the holiday cards and mailed to school districts across North Carolina. 

(All cards selected as finalists are scrolling across YCS homepage.)

Holiday Card Winner Dawson L. with Ms. Anglin East Yancey Middle School Principal and East Yancey Middle School Runners-Up

Holiday Card Runner-Ups with Art Teacher Keli Miller ; Superintendent Tipton and YCS School Board Members 

Three Yancey County Schools are North Carolina Title I ‘Reward Schools

posted Nov 6, 2014, 5:19 AM by Kay Ball   [ updated Nov 6, 2014, 6:02 AM ]

Three Yancey County Schools are North Carolina Title I ‘Reward Schools




Three Yancey County Schools are among only 78 other schools from around the state that have been recognized as Title I Reward Schools for High Performance for 2014-15, based on results from 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years according to the NC Department of Public Instruction.


These three schools are South Toe Elementary, Micaville Elementary, and Bald Creek Elementary. By Title I standards, a “High Performance” school has the highest absolute performance over a number of years for all subgroups, including the “all students” group, on statewide assessments.


Based on these standards, Bald Creek Elementary School has qualified to apply to represent North Carolina in the National Title I Distinguished Schools Program. Cane River and East Yancey Middle Schools have both been honored as National Title I Reward School nominees in the past.  The announcement of North Carolina’s national representatives for 2014 will be made sometime after the first of the year.


According to State Superintendent June Atkinson in a press release, “It is no small accomplishment when high-poverty schools are recognized for strong student achievement. By maintaining high expectations and engaging in hard work, these Title I schools collectively demonstrate the belief that all children can learn."






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