The Mecklenburg County Public School Board gathered on Tuesday night for their monthly meeting. The meet- ing was called to order by board mem- ber Gavin Honeycutt at 7:00 pm. Other members present were Brent Richey, Rob Campbell, Wanda Bailey, and Dora Garner along with Superintendent Paul Nichols.
Ms. Robin Moore introduced Nicole Schuman, who presented the Farm to School Program. This program consists of three key elements. Procurement works with the Southside Virginia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association to bring fresh produce into the schools. Students will benefit from learning how to grow their own fruit and vegetables by working together on a school garden. Finally, students will be educated on the benefits of eating farm to table.
The county has purchased fifteen new school buses, thirteen of which will be for common-use and two for special- education use. The sixty-four passenger vehicles also come equipt with three cameras throughout that will allow for a 180-degree view of the entire interior. Ms. Wanda Bailey asked if the activity buses bought during the previous school
year were saving on the fuel and maintenance of regular buses as predicted. Mr. Mayhew informed her that the buses were successfully saving money and running in top shape.
School Superintendent Paul Nichols gave the Summer Activities report begin- ning with technology. The schools have leased 500 new chrome books and 500 new laptop’s and have purchased 400 chrome books to replace outdated devic- es. Also purchased were 25 new laptops for administrators, over 75 devices on CTE to be worked into the system, and 72 clear-touch interactive panels. Significant progress has been made on the final laptop lease to be completed next summer so that Chromebooks may be provided for grades K-12. Mr. Nichols moved on to the school’s free or reduced lunch program stating that 100% of elementary school students in the county are benefitting from the program.
Ms. Hendricks presented the accountability and testing results from the 2018- 2019 school year. All Mecklenburg County schools are fully accredited testing well. There was a significant 24 percent gain on students with disabilities. Once the full report was read, Board Member Dora Garner asked a series of questions focused on the difference between resources provided for Park View and Bluestone schools.
“The AP/DE classes are set up at Park View. They are not set up that way at Bluestone except for History.”
Garner also expressed concern over the AP vs general English classes at the two schools.
“They only have the option to take AP English at Bluestone, so therefore it’s either they take AP English or they take general English. They have no choice in between.” said Ms. Garner. She also pointed out that Park View stu- dents had the option to take Advanced Placement or Dual Enrollment courses while Bluestone students could only choose between Advanced Placement or general classes.
Tensions raised a bit when Garner asked “The last question, which they won’t be able to answer but the person wanted to know, the children of the school board members; are they on track to take DE classes and get an associate’s degree that the students at Bluestone will not get?” Brent Richey asked “What kind of question is that?” to which Garner replied “There’s definitely a disproportionate part of the education in this town. One end of the county doesn’t get anything. [There’s] more opportunity [for] the other. And I’ve said it. These are questions that came up and they want it addressed, especially after the AP scores. “And also I will tell, and I told the education committee today,” said Garner. “If by January of next school year something does not change to make it equal in this county, I am going to recommend that we give no associate’s degree after this school year if this cannot be worked out.” It remained tense in the room as members asked questions.
Paul Nichols let Ms. Garner know that he appreciated her concern and reminded the board that DE teachers have to be certified through the community college and are harder to come by.
Gavin Honeycutt pointed out that he understood some of Ms. Garner’s points and that with the technology we have today, there is no reason that both schools shouldn’t receive the same opportunities.
The meeting continued on as Mr. Nichols updated the board on the status of the new school’s groundbreaking is set to happen in October of this year.
After some concerns were expressed over the colors being gang affiliated, the board members voted 3-2 for the school colors to be red, black, and white to go along with the previously decided phoenix mascot.
Mr. Honeycutt closed out the evening and informed everyone that the next meeting would take place on September 16, 2019