RCS to consider closing The Virtual Academy by the 2024-25 school year

ASHEBORO — The Randolph County Schools Board of Education met Monday, May 15, with multiple recognitions and presentations on the agenda.

The board started off the meeting by recognizing the national qualifiers among the different Career and Technical Student Organizations from the local schools.

“Each year, students in Career and Technical Student Organizations, or CTSOs, compete in local, regional, and state events to demonstrate skills that they have acquired through curriculum activities and individual efforts outside of the classroom,” said Public Information Officer Tim Moody. “They compete against students from across our state with the hope of earning a chance to compete at the national level. Each CTSO has specific requirements for qualifying for national competitions based on factors such as the number of competitors in the event and the type of event, but regardless, it is an outstanding accomplishment to qualify for any national CTSO event.”

The national qualifiers include the Providence Grove High School FFA Hunter Safety Team, which finished second overall at the tournament to advance to the national competition for the first time in school history, the Wheatmore High School FFA Hunter Safety Team the team which finished third overall at the tournament to advance to the national competition, the Randleman High School FFA Chapter which finished first in the state out of 100 teams and will represent the North Carolina FFA Association at the National FFA Convention, and the Randleman High School HOSA which had members Parker Sterling, Marian Aguilar, Ava Dillard and Jennifer Mayorga qualify for the HOSA’s International Leadership Conference.

“It’s never an easy conversation when you are dealing with students and staff, but it’s one that needs to be had.”

Superintendent Stephen Gainey

The board was presented with a proposal from the superintendent to discontinue The Virtual Academy at Randolph, stemming from a study RCS had conducted.

The study found that the school received a letter grade of “F,” did not meet school performance growth measures and was identified as a low-performing school by the state. The Virtual Academy also will have a local cost of $1163,355 to fund two positions necessary for the school’s operations once ESSER money runs out in 2024-25 and has seen a steady decline of enrollment, with only 54 students currently enrolled for the 2023-24 school year.

“Due to budget concerns, the expiration of ESSER funds on 9/30/24, the anticipated continued

decline in enrollment at The Virtual Academy at Randolph, and the fact that closure will not cause significant inconvenience or hardship to current students, I recommend that The Virtual Academy at Randolph be closed no later than the conclusion of the 2023-2024 school year,” said Superintendent Dr. Stephen Gainey. “It’s not an easy conversation. It’s never an easy conversation when you are dealing with students and staff, but it’s one that needs to be had.”

The board was also presented with the list of schools operating under the Community Eligibility Provision in order to receive free lunches and breakfasts for the 2023-24 school year.

“The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) provides an alternative to household applications for free and reduced-price meals for economically disadvantaged students in local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools,” said Executive Director of Operations Dale Brinkley. “Sites that elect this option agree to serve all students free lunches and breakfasts and claim the meals based on a percentage of Identified Students multiplied by a USDA-defined multiplier factor, currently 1.6. Sites which have an Identified Student Percentage (ISP) of 40% or greater are eligible for this option.”

The schools include Archdale Elementary, Coleridge Elementary, Farmer Elementary, Franklinville Elementary, Grays Chapel Elementary, Hopewell Elementary, John Lawrence Elementary, Level Cross Elementary, Liberty Elementary, New Market Elementary, Ramseur Elementary, Randleman Elementary, Seagrove Elementary, Southmont Elementary, Tabernacle Elementary, Trindale Elementary, Trinity Elementary and Southeastern Randolph Middle.

The Randolph County Schools Board of Education will next meet June 5.

By Ryan Henkel, North State Journal