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May 9th 2023 School Matters



May 9th, 2023

The Alexander County Board of Education met for the regularly scheduled board meeting May 9th. The following include actions and reports from the meeting. The meeting opened with the pledge led by 8th grader Peyton Seitz, daughter of Danielle Harris and Macon Seitz.

Honors and Recognitions

Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Hefner recognized several Alexander Central High School students for their recent performances at the SkillsUSA competitions in Greensboro. The motto of SkillsUSA is "preparing for leadership in the world of work" and the organization gives students opportunities to practice technical and professional skills learned in CTE classes. ACHS students competed in Carpentry, Drafting, Electrical Construction Wiring, Firefighting, First Aid/CPR, Information Technology Services, Medical Terminology, Television (Video) Production, and Welding. Teachers Josh Bowles, Roy Hadley, Justin Deal, Kristin Jolly, and Lauren Mull served as advisors in this state competition. School board chair Ramie Robinson who works with Catawba Valley Community College was the advisor for the Electrical and Welding students. 

Information Technology Services: 

The competition yielded one first place winner. Isaak Mauck earned a Gold medal in Information Technology Services. Isaak now qualifies to compete at the National Competition in Atlanta in June. 

We also had several other students who were recognized for placing in the state competition. 


3rd- Bentley Gilbert 

4th-  Heath Bentley 

5th- Harley Grogan

Electrical Construction Wiring: 

2nd-Canyon Echerd

5th-Jesse Anderson 

First Aid/CPR: 

5th-Emily Mull 

Television (Video) Production: 

3rd- Grant Sizemore and Emma Coley 


4th- Devin McCall

Also recognized, students who competed as the district’s first ever representatives at Gravity Games in Lenoir bringing home 2nd and 3rd place trophies. Twenty-four Ellendale Elementary students built box cars with the help of School Board Vice-Chairman Robert Arguelles, School Resource Officer Buddy McKinney and local businessman Brandon Cox.

For Ellendale’s team, driver John Henry Herman placed 2nd and driver Paisley Teague placed 3rd out of 16 racers.

Teachers Monica Anderson, Macey Icenhour, Chase Ivosic, and Katie Steele helped students with the project.

East Alexander Middle School Report

East Alexander Middle School principal Brett Huffman presented to the board about the school’s academic and behavioral goals. Huffman is in his first year as principal at the school after moving from an AP position at the high school. The school has reduced office referrals for behavior from 414 in the 2021-22 school year to 269 in the 2022-23 year; we have 21 more student days of school in this year.

Huffman also said the school is trying to improve parent communication by having staff make positive phone calls home for each student. The school has also started clubs as of February to help make connections for the students. 

Lastly, he shared what students have learned this year in the Career and Technical Education classes and about the focus on science, farming, and real-life skills.

Old Wittenburg Recommendation

Maintenance and Facilities Director Chris Campbell presented to the board an update on what is called the “Old Wittenburg” property. The empty campus on highway 16 sits on more than seven acres and has served as a school and former offices for the district. The building’s assessed value is $1.37 million and was originally built in 1948. There is an additional lot on 1.5 acres worth nearly $34,000 at the property. An engineering consultant estimates the cost of demolishing the existing structure and setting the land ready for sale would be $212,000. That’s a good deal less than abating asbestos in the building and renovation. Campbell told the board that the building has lead and asbestos in the floor, walls, ceiling, and other. Engineering Consulting Services of Greensboro believes handling the asbestos and lead removal would be nearly a half-million dollars. Then, the refurbishment for the building would be up to $700,000. 

Transportation Update

The interim transportation director Kevin Brittain presented to the board a plan to allow the YMCA to use school buses for the organization’s summer camps. The YMCA will pay a nominal fee and $1.75 per mile for fuel. The agreement also allows the school system to charge more for gas depending on fluctuating fuel prices.

Superintendent’s Remarks

Dr. Jennifer Hefner thanked the people in the school buildings for Teacher Appreciation Week and for what they do for the students in Alexander County. Teacher Appreciation Week has been part of a national celebration since 1944.

Hefner told the board that the North Carolina state legislature appears to be trying to dismantle public education. She shared with school board members the impact of a state bill that would expand private school vouchers in North Carolina. The proposal would take the income limit off families meaning the household could make any income level and still get 45% of a student’s private school tuition paid. When the legislature originally passed vouchers in 2013, they were marketed as a way to give choice to families who were low-income. Hefner told the board that the Office of State Budget and Management estimates that Alexander County would lose 4% of the state funding in the first year if the state expands the vouchers; that amount would be nearly $2.5 million dollars. Alexander County would be one of the hardest hit statewide. Dr. Hefner said that the county commissioners would have to make up the differences if the voucher bill goes through. She said the other options, if vouchers pass, would be to cut staff or close schools.

Hefner called on the public, school supporters, and the school board members to contact their legislators to oppose HB823. The bill has already passed in both houses in the general assembly and is now in the budget committee to see that the house and senate bills match. 

Hefner also reported that the Sugar Loaf gymnasium project is scheduled to receive bids at the end of this month. The architects believe the project can be completed by summer of 2024. The state gave Alexander County $5.3 million dollars in Needs-Based Public Capital School Funds to tear down the existing gym at Sugar Loaf and build a new one.

She also congratulated four winners of a math competition at Catawba Valley Community College. 

Alexander Central’s Michael Brown placed 2nd in the Advanced Math Individual competition. Lily Haney placed 3rd in the Advanced Math Individual competition and the team, which also includes Sarah Hollar and Macy Johnson, placed first in the Advanced Math Team competition.  The ACHS students competed against 22 other high school teams.

Superintendent Hefner also shared the state is allowing some districts to provide salary supplements. 

The Alexander County School system will receive more than $1.5 million dollars to cover supplements and benefits. Approximately 355 teachers and instructional support staff with certain years of experience will be eligible for about $4,000. Remaining teachers and instructional support personnel will receive an estimated amount of $3,000 based on years of experience. The money will be in the June paycheck.

Dr. Hefner also asked the board to hold off on voting whether to close the Alexander Virtual Academy till the June meeting. The school system has asked the county commission to consider funding the school for the next year. She wants to wait to see what the commissioners might do. It would cost $203,623 to keep AVA open. The school is home to about 15 students. 

School Board policies revision 

The board considered several policy revisions presented by Chief Financial Officer Mrs Sharon Mehaffey. 

The board considered the second reading of following policies and approved them unanimously.

  • Policy No. 1510/4200/7270 - School Safety

  • Policy No. 2120 - Code of Ethics for School Board Members

  • Policy No. 2123 - Board Members Opportunities for Development

  • Policy No. 4320/5026/7250 - 100% Tobacco Free Schools

  • Policy No. 5030 - Community Use of Facilities

The board also considered the second reading on two new policies and approved them unanimously.

  • Policy No. 7305 - Professional Standards of Conduct and Performance for Teachers

  • Policy No. 7306 - Professional Standards of Conduct and Performance for School Administrators

The board considered first reading for the following policy revisions. 

  • Policy No. 3220 - Technology in the Educational Program

  • Policy No. 3420 - Student Promotion and Accountability

  • Policy No. 3460 - Graduation Requirements

  • Policy No. 3620 - Extracurricular Activities and Student Organizations

  • Policy No. 4050 - Children of Military Families

  • Policy No. 4100 - Age Requirements for Initial Entry

Those policies will be brought back for second reading at the June meeting after gathering input from the public. Alexander County Board Policies are available for review by the public at or by appointment at the Alexander County Board of Education Office on Liledoun Road, Taylorsville, North Carolina.

Board member Joshua Dagenhart was not present at the meeting.