Board OKs option on potential school site

Published 8:53 am Friday, April 18, 2014

Photo by Brandon Hicks

Carter County Director of Schools Kevin Ward said the school board had 90 days to consider a possible purchase of a potential new school site in Hunter.

Carter County school board members moved another step closer to choosing a location for a new middle school, approving a 90-day option on property in the Hunter District at their meeting Thursday evening at Cloudland Elementary School in Roan Mountain.
“We want to make it clear that this doesn’t mean we are agreeing to purchase the property,” said director of Schools Kevin Ward. “This just means we have 90 days to consider it.”
The property being considered is owned by Karl W. Sharp Jr. and Mary Linda Shoaff. Located on Highway 91, the parcel is just over 7 acres in size and the purchase price would be $200,000.
The purchase is contingent on the property passing a soil core test as well as the approval of both the Carter County School Board and the Carter County Commission.
Members of the Carter County Education Committee will have an opportunity to view the property firsthand during an upcoming meeting set for 10 a.m. on May 8 at the Carter County Courthouse.
Ward presented a year-end summary and discussed initiatives the system is working on including the Professional Learning Communities and Common Core, which he called “a very big issue.”
“Common Core teaches our children how to answer questions of who or how, instead of yes or no,” he said. “It teaches them to think.”
However, he noted, the PARCC testing – designed to evaluate the effectiveness of the Common Core standards implementation, has been put off one year, something he believes to be only temporary.
“I expect it to be back next year,” Ward said, “and we’ll be ready. We were all ready to go with it this year except for two schools. The preliminary testing went very well.”
The delay will allow for additional work on keyboarding skills, something that will be a great help for students taking the online testing, he said.
Other priorities in the system including refocusing on giving a helping hand to Level 1 and Level 2 teachers – teachers who are performing below standard, Ward said. Teachers ranked at a Level 3 are considered average.
As for those educators who have earned a Level 4 or 5 ranking, Ward said, “We just need to get out of their way and let them do their jobs.”
He discussed the need to help principals become better at being instructional leaders, rather than being “building managers,” and added that educators need to support each other and do what is needed to be effective.
The board gave unanimous approval for the purchase of new public address systems for Hampton Elementary, Hampton High School, Happy Valley Middle School and Unaka High School; and a new updated phone system for the Carter County Schools’ administrative office. The total for the projects is $138,293.
The board recognized four educators at the meeting, three Carter County Teachers of the Year and a volunteer art teacher.
Honored for their outstanding achievements in the classroom were Tonya McKinney, Central Elementary, who was named K-4 Carter County Teacher of the Year; Hugh Buckles, Unaka Elementary, 5-8 Carter County Teacher of the Year; and Jason Ward, Unaka High School, 9-12 Carter County Teacher of the Year.
Mike Hill, who volunteers every Monday teaching art at Cloudland Elementary, also received a recognition for his service.
In other action, the board approved the establishment of a new soccer team at Happy Valley High School and a new golf team at Unaka High School.
The last day of school was set for May 27, except for Happy Valley Elementary School, Hampton High School, Valley Forge School, Little Milligan Elementary and Siam, whose last day will be May 28.
The 2014-15 school year will start with a teachers’ in-service on Aug. 4 and the first full day of classes is set for Aug. 11. May 21, 2015, is set as the last day for the upcoming year.

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