Students are in the spotlight at Lee school board meeting

Apr. 09, 2014 @ 05:02 AM

Students were in the spotlight at Tuesday night’s Lee County Board of Education meeting as groups from three local schools showed off their culinary, artistic and academic exploits.

The SPROUTS club from East Lee Middle School, which groups disabled and non-disabled children together to cook and just generally interact more than they otherwise might, started this year and reported a successful pilot program.

"The kids had a blast,” East Lee Principal Shannon Shuey said.

The students then showed a video of the club’s activities and had some of the students speak about their experiences. Later, they passed out some chocolaty treats they made to the board.

From West Lee, two students came with art teacher Samantha Shonka to tell about their recent experiences at the ARTalympics, an annual statewide art contest in which students must create artwork on the spot in various assigned categories.

“It’s a great way to meet people outside your county and bring students together who are passionate about art,” seventh grader Tyler Profio told the board.

Later, the board honored the quiz bowl team from Lee Early College, which won the county contest and also competed in several regional and statewide competitions.

“These guys are cool customers,” Bryan said. “… We have a lot to proud of, and they have a lot to be proud of.”

The students themselves wouldn’t brag much. One quiz bowl member, next year’s captain Tyler Everhart, said they probably shouldn’t have even won the county contest, in which they barely beat Southern Lee. The current captain, Issac Haines, chalked any success they did have up to simply practicing “a lot.”

Getting down to official business, the board tackled several administrative issues including requesting waivers for changing the assessment process for teachers in certain subjects and for permission to violate the class size cap in two classes at Broadway Elementary School.

Board members also approved school calendars for next year. Drafts of those calendars can be viewed online at bit.ly/1k0aY2M.

The teaching assessment waivers will apply to fourth grades science and social studies, plus career and technical education (CTE) classes. Officials said state standards simply aren’t up to snuff yet for measuring those classes, so it would be more accurate to judge those teachers based on in-school measures.

The second waiver approved was to break class size rules at Broadway Elementary School. Two of the school’s five kindergarten classes now reportedly have 25 students due to late enrollments, which violates state law requiring no more than 24 students in a kindergarten classroom.

The board, in requesting the waiver, noted that both classes have a teacher and a teaching assistant. Bryan said adding a new class this late in the year — hiring a teacher and breaking up groups of students who have been together all year long — would be much more disruptive than simply having an extra child in two out of five classes.

In other actions, the school board congratulated Tamara Brogan for being named to the legislative committee of the North Carolina School Boards Association. Brogan frequently represented Lee County Schools in meetings with legislators and during legislative hearings held while the General Assembly was in session last summer.

“We all know Tamara’s not shy about going to the legislature in the first place,” the board’s chairman, Dr. Lynn Smith, said.

The board also:

• Honored the Tramway Elementary School custodial staff of Victor Boykin, Robert Baldwin, Larry Harris and Wayne Williams with the Clean School of the Month award.

• Honored SanLee Middle School seventh grade language arts teacher Tony Davis for having the Webpage of the Month.

• Heard a presentation from local school administrator interns Angela Colvin, Crystal Colwell and Wendy Perry.

• Approved the consent agenda. It included nearly $68,000 to seal and restripe parking lots at four local schools, plus plans to auction off the 1,628 sq. ft. house built by high school carpentry students at 5:30 p.m. July 31 at Lee County High School. In recent years, the student-built houses have gone at auction for between $50,000 and $78,500.

The consent agenda also included a technology plan for 2014-16 that looks at ways to cut tech costs and increase access and effectiveness.