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Orange County Schools Board of Education approves new AP class, other contracts

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The Orange County Board of Education building, as pictured on Monday, March 28, 2022, is located on East King Street in Hillsborough.

During its Monday meeting, the Orange County Schools Board of Education approved a contract with Engaging Schools, a nonprofit dedicated to implementing restorative justice practices in schools. 

Additionally, the board authorized a consulting contract for the district’s after-school program and heard updates about the $40 million capital and construction projects that OCS is undertaking.

The board also unanimously voted to approve adding AP African American Studies to OCS schools' curriculum. 

What’s new? 

  • OCS Superintendent Monique Felder recognized the celebration of National School Library Week from April 23 to 29 and Administrative Assistants Day on April 26. 
    • Felder said the Board of Education thanked OCS administrative professionals for their professionalism and competencies in bookkeeping, bilingualism and data management. She said the district’s office staff improved the district daily with their knowledge and dedication. 
    • “We thank every one of our administrative professionals for helping Orange County Schools to be the best that we can be,” Felder said.
  • OCS Chief Equity Officer Lee Williams announced the celebration of the first annual Disability Awareness Week, which he says would promote inclusivity and respect for all. 
    • In a video statement, OCS teacher Nicole Lester said the planning committee had created lesson plans, bulletin boards and a dress theme schedule for the occasion.  
  • The board clarified questions from Chief Finance Officer Rhonda Rath about a March 20 directive requiring the Board of Education to approve new administrative financial obligations that are paid with local funds and contracts. 
    • “Anytime there is a raise or a new position in central office, that comes to the Board for approval, regardless of how it’s funded,” OCS Board member Bonnie Hauser said. 
    • Board member Sarah Smylie said pre-budgeted expenses do not need to be included in the board report.

What decisions were made? 

  • The board unanimously voted to adopt the consent agenda, which includes course approval for AP African American Studies, a policy about employee travel reimbursement and a furniture purchase for New Hope Elementary School. 
  • The Board of Education approved a contract with Engaging Schools, a nonprofit dedicated to implementing restorative justice practices in school systems. Engaging Schools would advise OCS on a new Code of Conduct, Character and Support. 
    • Board chairperson Will Atherton initially expressed concern about the cost efficiency of the contract and whether or not OCS needed to outsource the work.
    • “There’s a big lacking piece around restorative practice work in there,” Williams said.
    • However, he added that Engaging Schools would be able to assist OCS in creating a more equity-centered learning environment.
  • Chief Human Capital Officer Joyce Hatcher secured approval for the Afterschool Consultant Contract. 
    • Hatcher said following the after-school manager's departure from the district, there was a need for personnel to manage the Child Care Stabilization Grant, which is reviewed every 90 days. 
    • She said that the selected consultant would manage the grant and conduct training with after-school staff to optimize operations. 
  • Deputy Superintendent Patrick Abele provided an update about the planned capital investment projects for the district, including renovations on Efland-Cheeks Global Elementary School’s mechanical system and Central Elementary School’s HVAC system, ADA access and classroom interiors. 
    • Abele said the district should prioritize Central Elementary School improvements. 
    • “What I would recommend is that we look at plans and alternatives to how might we expedite some of these major capital needs over the next couple of years and we need to look outside of the box,” Abele said. 

What’s next? 

  • The board will meet on Thursday at 7 p.m. for a joint meeting with theOrange County Board of County Commissioners and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education to discuss school safety, mental health, human services and teacher retention. The agenda can be found online.
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