The Orange County Schools Board of Education held its second meeting of the 2023-24 school year on Sept. 25, with a closed session starting at 6 p.m. and an open session at 7 p.m.
- During the public comment period, members of Public School Strong spoke on concerns regarding OCS’ commitment to equity and Orange County's funding of schools.
- “I and other Public School Strong members advocate for honest, accurate, equitable, safe and fully funded public schools,” Lynn Carswell, a member of the advocacy group, said.
- Denise Greene, Orange County Schools' chief academic officer, presented data on Orange County Schools’ end of grade and end of course results for the 2022-23 school year.
- Overall district proficiency has improved four percent from last school year, but still remains below pre-pandemic levels.
- There was an overall downward trend in growth, with three out of 13 schools exceeding growth in the 2022-23 school year, while 10 out of 13 schools exceeded growth in the 2021-22 school year.
- Emily Myers, the director of OCS’ Multi Tiered Systems of Support, said the plan is to "stay the course for the upcoming year."
- "Our goal is to not just get back to where we were before COVID, but to exceed where we were before COVID,” Myers said.
- Dwayne Foster, the district's chief operations officer; Patrick Florence, the director of Construction and Capital Planning; and Henry McKee, the director of maintenance, presented the district’s capital budget plan, outlining how the more than $43 million allocated for renovations and other projects will be used.
- Much of the focus is on renovating HVAC systems and repairing roofs across multiple schools.
- An initiative called "180 Days: Making Every Day Count" was introduced by Jessica Dreher, the district's director of student engagement and support services. The initiative aims to help schools improve student attendance in the district.
- The plan will include attendance data tracking, tiered interventions for students with low attendance and recognizing students and families that have worked to improve attendance.
- “We know, yes, they are supposed to be in school," Dreher said. "However, when we have small wins we want to celebrate those wins as much as we celebrate the large wins as well.”
- The board also discussed how to implement Senate Bill 49 — the Parent's Bill of Rights, which was passed in August by the N.C. General Assembly over the veto of Gov. Roy Cooper.
- For Orange County, adhering to this law includes adapting Policy 1310 to make changes required by S.B. 49. The county has until Jan. 1 to fully incorporate what the state law requires.
- Kevin Smith, the chief public information officer, said that though changing the policy is required by the state, the county also wants to properly engage families in policy and procedure decisions.
- “We absolutely must comply with state law, and we also want to make this our community’s policy going forward,” he said.
What decisions were made?
- The board voted unanimously to use the North Carolina School Boards Association to assist in the search for a new Orange County superintendent.
- Board member Sarah Smylie said that, according to the association, they would finish the search for a superintendent by January.
- The next school board meeting is on Oct. 9 and starts with a closed session at 6 p.m. and an open session at 7 p.m.