The Burke County Board of Education was provided COVID-19, budget and renovation updates regarding Burke County Public Schools at Monday’s work session at the Olive Hill Resource Center in Morganton.
Superintendent Mike Swan introduced school nurse Summer Crump to review the COVID-19 updates for BCPS.
The updates from Crump were as follows:
For the week of Sept. 20-26, 119 students and staff tested positive, 572 student and staff had exposures and 182 of those students and staff members did not have to quarantine, Crump said.
For the week of Sept. 27 through Oct. 3, 67 students and staff tested positive, 313 student and staff had exposures and 139 of those students and staff members did not have to quarantine, Crump said.
For the week of Oct. 4-10, 26 students and staff tested positive, 139 student and staff had exposures and 31 of those students and staff members did not have to quarantine. These numbers are still subject to change, Crump said.
An update to the NC Strong Schools Toolkit was also made on Oct. 5 regarding staff quarantine exemptions when deemed a close contact to a positive staff member or student. The change was made on page 18 of the toolkit. The change now states that both staff and students can be exempt from quarantine after they had been identified as a close contact exposure at school as long as they do not have symptoms, Crump said.
“As you can recall, about three or four weeks ago, we had an entire class that had to quarantine because of the teacher,” Swan said. “So right now, this will not happen based on this new policy.”
BCPS Finance Director Keith Lawson introduced the new bid for the former Morganton Junior High School property, located on College Street in Morganton. The 10-day upset bid process is now complete and a final bid was placed by Broadway Properties to purchase and contract the property for $971,825, Lawson said.
Once the bid is approved by Swan and the board, the property will then be held in a 120-day due diligence period for Broadway Properties to review and inspect the property. Concluding that period, the transaction will either be completed or terminated with the developer. If the contract is terminated, the developer will forfeit the $5,000 non-refundable deposit on the property, Lawson said.
Lawson also briefed the board on the master plan for the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief funding provided by the federal government.
ESSER funds are given to school systems to provide COVID-19 prevention resources. He explained to the board how the process works to receive approval for the use of ESSER funds.
The state of North Carolina develops a statewide plan that is summitted to the federal government for approval. Once the state-wide plan is approved, the State Board of Education then passes a state board plan, Lawson said. The plan is then given to the Department of Instruction, which determines how the funds will be allotted based on the master plan.
Lawson also presented a quarterly financial report to the board regarding use and predictions of funds used by BCPS.
The use of federal funds has increased due to the availability of ESSER funds and the use of funds provided by Burke County commissioners has been the same for three consecutive years, Lawson said. Therefore, no additional funding has been requested from the county commissioners from BCPS.
Other items of business
Melanie Honeycutt, chief information officer for BCPS digital teaching and learning, updated the board on the complaints made by a parent regarding materials offered in five BCPS media libraries.
The media materials that were sourced in the parent’s complaint were “Dear Martin” and “The Hate U Give.”
“Four of the schools had the Media and Technology Advisory committees meet and they have carefully reviewed the materials and made recommendations,” Honeycutt said. “We have one school that the MTA committee will review the materials later this week and we’ll have that information for you hopefully by the November meeting.”
The decision made by the MTA committees were made based on board policy 3200, which is the selection of instructional materials and board policy 3210, which allows parental inspection and objection to instructional materials.
The schools involved in the complaint were East Burke Middle School, and four high school’s including Freedom, Patton, East Burke and Draughn.
The four committees voted to keep the two media materials in the libraries of the schools. The parent will be sent a letter and given the opportunity for rebuttal of the decision. It will then go to the superintendent who will have the authority to create another professional committee to review the materials and revisit the decision, Honeycutt said.
The MTA committee for the middle school will make a decision on the materials after their meeting this week.
In other news, Swan informed the board of the renovation regarding lead paint removal in school buildings. Most of the target schools have completed the removal of the lead-based paint and replaced it with an alternative, Swan said.
Sydni Hall is a staff writer and can be reached at 828-432-8907 or at email@example.com.