RCS to change focus surrounding Virtual Academy

ASHEBORO — The Randolph County Schools Board of Education met Monday, June 5, with presentations on the Virtual Academy and various grants as the main items on the agenda.

Following up on a recommendation to consider closing the Virtual Academy made at last month’s board meeting by Superintendent Stephen Gainey, the superintendent instead recommended that RCS change its focus in relation to the school after an uptick in enrollments.

“Looking at some of the things we talked about last month and where the school is, there’s been a pretty strong jump in the last couple of weeks,” Gainey said. “So, I would recommend a couple of things. One is that we shift our focus as leadership of the school system from the longevity of the school, to promoting the school and see what happens as we go into 23-24 with some more promotion of the school.

“Another recommendation is that we look for additional in-person activities to try and increase the culture and development of the school. It’s a different school, a virtual school, and it’s not like in-person school, but I think you can see that there’s plenty of enthusiasm with staff.”

According to Gainey, between the May and June meetings, the Virtual Academy saw its enrollment increase to 86 students.

“As of May 30, there were also 10 additional potential candidates whose paperwork had not been completed,” Gainey said. “So, we’ve got 10 more that are at least out there that gives us possibly 96. It’s not a sure thing, but that’s a pretty strong improvement from May 10, where we had 59.”

“Not everybody is set up to go into a public setting,” said Board Chair Gary Cook. “I think if we looked at any other approach, we would be letting down, what is right now, 86 students, and I don’t want to be a part of anything like that.”

The board was then presented with seven different grants that Randolph County Schools had applied for and received. They were the following:

** RCS received two North Carolina Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council Go Outside Grants, one to Coleridge Elementary in the amount of $1,755 and the other to Franklinville Elementary in the amount of $1,650, both of which provide funding for students to attend Camp Caraway for outdoor science activities.

** The Farm Bureau Going Local Teacher Grant to John Lawrence Elementary for $500 was presented to RCS with the goal of providing funding for a raised garden bed for students to learn about plants and soil.

** An NCAE Mini Grant to Coleridge Elementary in the amount of $500 to provide funding for A-Z graphic dividers that will assist students in locating books in the media center

** Two Donors Choose Grants, both to Randleman Middle School in the amounts of $605.75 to provide books and items to create learning stations and $569.22 to provide two classroom sets of headphones

** A Randolph County Association of Educators Grant to Southeastern Randolph Middle School in the amount of $250 to provide funding to purchase writing journals and pens.

The board also approved the renaming of the Eastern Randolph High School Wrestling Room to the Greg Hardin Wrestling Room after the former coach.

“The Randolph County School System has been approached about naming the Eastern Randolph High School Wrestling Room after Greg Hardin,” said Executive Director of Operations Dale Brinkley. “During his tenure, Greg Hardin served as a track coach, teacher, state champion football coach, and state champion wrestling coach. Under his leadership, his wrestling teams and individual wrestlers acquired numerous state titles, conference titles, and multiple recognitions, which are noted on the attached memorandum. The request is to name the wrestling room: Greg Hardin Wrestling Room.”

The Randolph County Schools Board of Education will next meet June 29.

By Ryan Henkel, North State Journal