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OCS Board of Education discusses COVID-19 guidelines, budget for next year

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The Orange County Board of Education building sits on East King Street in Hillsborough on Monday, March 28, 2022.

The Orange County Schools Board of Education met Monday night in the Whitted Building in Hillsborough to discuss updated COVID-19 guidelines, its next budget and state and countywide recognitions. 

What’s new? 

  • The board recognized librarians across the county for their work in honor of School Library Month. 
    • “School librarians do so much — building relationships, really getting to know the kids, building a sense of community and a place to go,” Sarah Smylie, a board member, said. “Over my kids’ career in the system, I’ve seen that so much.”
  • The board also announced the Orange County Schools Job Fair will be this Saturday at 9 a.m. at Cedar Ridge High School. 
    • Joyce Hatcher, OCS chief of human capital and organizational development officer, said, last year the district offered six job contracts and that this year they hope to offer more.
  • The board also recognized members Jennifer Moore and Will Atherton as recipients of the North Carolina School Boards Association 2022-23 certificates of achievements.
    • The certificates are presented to individuals who earn between 101 and 200 hours of NCSBA Academy of School Boardsmanship training.

What decisions were made?

  • The board approved authorization for studies and public hearings in order to decide whether Hillsborough Elementary School should be closed and replaced if OCS obtained the funds to build a new elementary school. 
    • The building was opened in 1952, and is need of significant repairs and renovations.
    • The potential cost of the replacement is $49.5 million, while the projected cost to renovate the existing school is $30 million. 
    • If the school is closed and rebuilt, students and staff would have to relocate.
  • The CDC's COVID-19 protocols have been updated, and school policies were recommended to change accordingly.
    • While students and staff previously had to isolate for five days prior to the March 1 CDC guideline updates, they now only have to isolate for 24 hours following lessening symptoms and reduced fever.
    • Sylvia Compton, OCS' lead nurse, said differentiation between symptoms is an important factor to consider in determining time to stay home, as some persist more than others.
      • “School nurses will use their judgment and understanding of any and all individuals’ medical, social and emotional situation will be applied when we’re talking about exclusion, whether it’s COVID-19 or any other respiratory illness,” she said. 
  • The board also discussed its fiscal year 2025 budget. 
    • Under the current recommended budget, OCS employees will receive a 3 percent salary increase, as well as increased retirement benefits. 
    • The total 2025 budget increase is just over $5 million, including increased field trips for students and STEM training for teachers.

What’s next?

  • The board will meet again on Monday, April 22 in the Whitted Building in Hillsborough at 7 p.m.

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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