The Orange County Schools Board of Education discussed the 2020-21 budget and COVID-19 response policies at a meeting last week.
The Board debated on many aspects of the budget, such as whether to expand the preschool dual-language program. The expansion of this program would involve contracting a Spanish-speaking teacher from a company the school system has hired. This would also require new classroom space for the program to take place in, as well as various supplies and materials for the students.
We’ve talked a lot about COVID-19, and now we want to hear from you. If you have a tip, question or just want to share your experience, leave us a voicemail at (919) 391-4895.
Board member Matthew Roberts said he feels it is important to keep this dual-language program to help students who are not fluent English speakers.
“This is one of the items in the budget that addresses our needy students,” Roberts said.
Versions of medical insurance subsidies for teachers were also discussed, including a budget option that has no expansions of insurance coverage for OCS employees.
The Board also decided to add something to the upcoming budget cycle: a COVID-19 Student Education Support system. The Board hopes to get $250,000 to fund this new system in response to the ongoing pandemic.
Board member Stephen Halkiotis said he wants his vote for the budget to reflect the best interests of the OCS students
“I think our budget should reflect our services to students,” Halkiotis said. "Let's do what we need to do for children. That's where my one vote is going to be."
Halkiotis also urged the Board to come up with a budget that is going to be comparable to the one being proposed by the Chapel Hill-Carborro City Schools Board.
“If we don’t present something comparable, we’re short changing our kids,” Halkiotis said. “We need to have the ability to fight for our kids.”
The other main issue discussed at the meeting was OCS’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, and more specifically, the Board addressed food distribution for students and teachers' responses to remote learning.
Chris Gammon, executive director of curriculum, said teachers need to engage with their students on a daily basis, especially when it comes to feedback on students’ assignments.
“Teachers should provide meaningful feedback to all assignments,” Gammon said, adding it helps to better students’ ability to learn remotely effectively.
OCS will remain closed until May 15 in compliance with Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order. Students and parents can check the OCS COVID-19 webpage for updates on the ongoing pandemic and how it will affect the school system.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.