Board of Education approves changes to 2023-24 school calendar

ASHEBORO — The Randolph Board of Education met Monday, March 20, with a few budgetary updates and items on the agenda.

The board was presented with the outcome of a grant application submitted by New Market Elementary School.

“New Market Elementary School received a Donors Choose Grant in the amount of $224.00 on March 7, 2023,” said Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Cathy Waddell. “The grant will provide funding to purchase items for students to prepare and track their running mileage in the school’s Go Far Club.”

The board was also presented with the first draft of the proposed budget for Randolph County Schools’ 2023-24 budget.

“We’ll bring it back next month for approval, and it will be delivered the next day [to the county commissioners],” said Finance Officer Todd Lowe.

In terms of the projected budget for 2023-2024, the proposed increase in local funding is $1,428,000. 

This accounts for a $711,000 increase for continuation costs (matching insurance, retirement, legislative salary, energy, etc. increases and charter school payments), a $173,000 salary increase for lead custodians and school treasurers, a $114,000 increase for additional SROs and a $430,000 increase for a 1.5% supplement increase for classified employees.

There are no additional capital outlay requests with the proposed budget.

The board then approved a fee and application cost for proficient students for the 2023 Summer Reading Camp Fee and Applications for proficient students.

“Local boards of education may request a fee amount to be equal to the per-student program cost of participating in the Reading Camp, not to exceed $825,” Waddell said. “Priority enrollment in the Reading Camp is for students offered a Reading Camp as a literacy intervention. The local board of education shall establish application procedures and enrollment priorities for reading camps for students demonstrating reading proficiency.

“The total cost for the Summer Reading Camps that were held at the end of the 2021-2022 school year was $220,693.38, and 405 students attended one of the reading camps in the school district. Based upon the cost of the 2022 reading camps and the number of students who attended, it is recommended that the Randolph County Board of Education approve an attendance fee of $545 for any second-grade student who has demonstrated appropriate developmental abilities in reading comprehension and for any third-grade student who has demonstrated proficiency on third-grade reading standards.”

According to Superintendent Dr. Stephen Gainey, the fee last year was $629, and the district works hard to keep those costs down.

“Only the students who aren’t proficient get to go for free,” Gainey said. “This is an interesting initiative, and it’s been in many different phases over time starting in 2013-14, where it was really only one grade level, and that was grade three. It’s kind of transitioned a few different ways over the last 10 years. Our fee has always been considerably less than what the state would allow us to charge.”

The board finally approved a recommendation to revise the 2023-24 school calendar in order to add four early release days.

“A revision to the 2023-2024 school calendar is being recommended to allow for the early release of all schools in the school system at 12:30 p.m. on the following dates: October 26, 2023, December 14, 2023, February 15, 2024, March 21, 2024,” said Executive Director of Operations Dale Brinkley. “The release time on the previously-identified days will be used for professional development for staff members at all schools. It will be particularly helpful with the state-required LETRS training for staff members at elementary schools in the school system.”

The Randolph County Schools Board of Education will next meet April 17.

By Ryan Henkel, North State Journal