The Orange County Board of Education discussed upcoming renovations to Efland-Cheeks Global Elementary School, presented the findings of the Ad Hoc Employee Advocate Committee and honored the principal of the year at its Oct. 23 meeting.
The meeting also reviewed data from the beginning of the year, multilingual learner and newcomer enrollment information and annual English proficiency data, as well as the first draft of school redistricting maps.
- Meredith Maier, principal of New Hope Elementary School was recognized as principal of the year by Chief Human Capital Officer Joyce Hatcher.
- “It is the honor of my life to serve our students and the school community here, and we have been able to accomplish some truly inspiring gains in student proficiency and in overall student growth in the last two years,” Maier said.
- Sarah Smylie, board member and chair of the Ad Hoc Employee Advocate Committee presented the committee’s findings.
- Smylie said the board should hire an ombudsperson — who investigates allegations of wrongdoing from officials — in order to support employees who have concerns or issues.
- “The key point of having it is so that we can have someone in the district that our staff trust and feel comfortable going to and sharing concerns or complaints,” board Vice Chair André Richmond said.
- Paul Young, the president of DTW Architects & Planners, presented his company’s bid on interior renovations at Efland-Cheeks Global Elementary School.
- According to the presentation, renovations would replace aging features of the school’s interior and make the school ADA accessible.
- "Many of the bathrooms that are in the classrooms at Efland Cheeks are not ADA accessible, Young said. "We will be making all of them ADA accessible."
- The total construction cost is estimated to be just under $6 million.
- The board discussed middle school ultimate frisbee, which is currently a non-sanctioned sport. During the 2021 and 2022 seasons, a stipend was approved to pay for the sport. In 2023, the stipend was not elevated to receive funding from the Orange County Schools budget.
- "When we were going through the budgeting process, I don’t think we talked about this one very much, so I didn't notice it in the list of stipends that would be going away, or else I would have expressed my support for keeping it at that time," Smylie said.
- The board announced that Orange County Schools has seen a 32 percent increase in multi-language enrollment in the past five years.
- According to the meeting agenda, the increase can be attributed to immigration trends and a reduced number of students exiting multi-language status, especially in middle grades.
- Thomas Dudley and Brian Godfrey, representatives from Operations Research and Education Laboratory at N.C. State presented findings on redistricting for Orange County Schools. The districts for elementary, middle and high schools all have proposed district changes.
What decisions were made?
- The board voted to move ahead on the ombudsperson position, with the condition that the ombudsperson must produce a report on their progress following their third month in office.
- The board approved a motion to move forward with interior renovations at Efland-Cheeks Global Elementary School.
- The board voted to treat ultimate frisbee as a sanctioned middle school sport in Orange County Schools and provide annual funding for a coach and assistant coach.
- The board will reconvene on Nov. 6 at 6:00 p.m.
- There will be a public meeting to review the first round of redistricting maps on Oct. 26 at 7:00 p.m. in the Orange County Middle School Auditorium.