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School Matters - February 2020 Board of Education News

            School Matters – Feb. 11, 2020

Eight educators recognized for National Board Certification

Alexander County School Board members and administration recognized 8 certified staff members who completed National Board Certification at the school board meeting.

Two teachers from Alexander County Schools obtained certification for the first time, Joshua Bowles (Alexander Central High School) and Melanie Watson (East Alexander Middle School).

Six staff members were honored for renewing their national certification.  They include Anna Bedzinski (Bethlehem Elementary School), Michelle Motley (Bethlehem Elementary School), Jessica Eckard (Ellendale Elementary School), Shelly Mitchell (Alexander Central High School), Melissa Pierce (Alexander Central High School), and Heidi Biddle Minton (Central Office).

North Carolina continues to lead the nation in the number of teachers that have earned certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.  The certification is a rigorous performance-based assessment that typically takes from one to three years to complete and measures what accomplished teachers and counselors should know and be able to do.

Teachers in North Carolina that achieve certification receive a 12 percent salary supplement to their regular pay that is good for the 10-year life of the certification. They also are awarded eight continuing education credits (CEUs).

Board chairman clarifies previous public comment statements
School Board Chairman Brigette Rhyne read the following statement from the legal team at Campbell Shatley, PLLC.

This legal memorandum is in regard to an allegation that Alexander County Schools (ACS) discriminates against pregnant employees in its policies and procedures that result in employees not receiving full pay while on parental leave. The legal team at Campbell Shatley, PLLC has reviewed pertinent ACS policies and they are in compliance with the law. We have also reviewed with staff the procedures followed to implement state law and board policies regarding parental leave and see no evidence of discrimination. It is important to note that neither federal nor state law provides for paid parental leave benefits for NC public school employees.

Alexander County Schools utilizes the North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA) policy manual service as do most school systems in North Carolina. These policies are vetted by NCSBA attorneys to ensure that they are in compliance with the law. In order to implement board policies in a fair and consistent manner, it is sometimes necessary for the administration to develop procedures in order to carry out board policies.

ACS Board Policy #2470 supports this practice by providing that the Superintendent may establish “formal administrative procedures or use less formal” procedures in order to implement board policies. ACS Board Policy 2470 also provides that the Board may review administrative procedures and directs the superintendent to “modify, expand or omit” procedures. Procedures used to implement state law and board policy vary from school system to school system and may reflect long-held practices in that system and the amount of administrative support available. Thus, a North Carolina school system is able to develop procedures to implement board policy as long as the procedures are not in conflict with the law.

After reading the legal memorandum, Mrs. Rhyne commented on behalf of the Alexander County Board of Education. “Lastly, the Alexander County Board of Education is committed to ensuring that all employees are treated justly and fairly and to this end, we continually work with the administration to review and refine our policies and procedures to make sure they are in compliance with law and allow our employees to receive all of the benefits to which they are entitled. As a governing body for the Alexander County School System, our Board of Education members review policies and procedures on a routine basis. Our policy committee will continue to work with the appropriate school system staff to determine if any changes need to be made with the parental leave policies and procedures currently being used in the school system.”

To see the presentation, tune in at 7:35 (min:sec)

Ellendale Elementary School update
Ellendale Elementary School Principal Crystal Hoke presented, Letting Our Light Shine: Learn, Lead, Serve, Succeed during the meeting. She began by highlighting the school’s performance grade of B, the school met growth, and continues to use rigor focused/learning focused lessons and high yield strategies.

Ellendale Elementary received Lighthouse status in May of 2019. Four staff members will present sessions at the Leader in Me Symposium in Asheville Feb. 27-28.

Mrs. Hoke detailed three promising practices at the school: WIGS (Wildly Important Goals, Genius Days, and Family/Community Involvement.


To see the presentation, tune in at 11:04 (min:sec) 

Communities In Schools of Northwest North Carolina

Communities In Schools (CIS) Executive Director Glendora Yarbrough presented an update to the board regarding the lack of funding for the program in Alexander County. The program funded through the Extended Learning and Integrated Student Supports (ELISS) Competitive Grant, will not be awarded due to the governor’s veto of the budget in late 2019. This particular funding budget will be reviewed again in the long session of 2021.  School site coordinators paid through the program were notified that due to lack of funding they would be laid off.

Three of the five schools were able to cover their site coordinator’s salary with Title 1 funding. Mrs. Yarbrough stated that CIS will continue to apply for grants to reinstate the program.


To see the presentation, tune in at 40:55 (min:sec)

Award of Honor nominations sought

Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Hefner read the guidelines for nominations of the Award of Honor.  Nominations may be made from the second week in February to the second week of March each year. The Award of Honor guidelines and nomination form can be found on the school system’s website at or the Board of Education office on Liledoun Road.

To see the presentation, tune in at 50:45 (min:sec)

Superintendent’s report

Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Hefner opened her report by thanking board members and central office leadership team members for attending the county commissioners’ meeting last week. She reported the facilities report was well received by the commissioners.

 Dr. Hefner reminded the board of upcoming important dates.

  • Students are not required to attend school Monday, Feb. 17 as it is a required workday for certified staff members. A portion of the day will be for a district-wide professional development.
  • Board members will be able to tune in to the second North Carolina School Boards Association’s webinar Feb. 18. The topic is Political Speech and Campaigning on Campus.
  • Alexander Central High has announced two ceremonies in May. The first is the honors ceremony May 17 and the second is the scholarship ceremony May 22. Both events will be held in the Alexander Central Auditorium.

Dr. Hefner will submit a report no later than Feb. 15 meeting a state requirement of House Bill 75 - Mental Health Support Personnel Reports and Funds. The report requires the total number of mental health support personnel such as school psychologists, school counselors, school nurses, and school social workers employed in the unit (school district). These numbers are reported below as well as the previous year’s numbers and the difference.



Current Year

Previous Year


School psychologists 




School counselors




School social workers




School Nurses





Dr. Hefner provided a summary of the myFuture NC forum which she attended on Monday, Feb. 10.

“North Carolina is at an important crossroad as it finds itself with a predicted 400,000 shortfall of individuals with the job skills needed to fill future jobs by 2030.  I want to share some current statistics for you to think about as we work toward closing the educational gap in North Carolina:

Half of NC employers need more hirable workers

67% of jobs in NC already require high-quality postsecondary degrees or credentials

49% of North Carolinians (ages 25-44) have completed that level of education

Our education system and economy in NC are out of sync.  Job seekers struggle to find jobs and employers struggle to find the talent they need to fill openings.  In the upcoming months, I will work to connect several groups to come together in Alexander County to work collaboratively to ensure our students graduating from our high schools are equipped with the skills (degrees and credentials) needed to obtain the jobs they desire.   Those groups will include the Board of Education, Board of Commissioners, Economic Development, Catawba Valley Community College and representatives from Business/Industry.  I want to prepare our students for the future by empowering them while also strengthening our county and ensuring our economic viability in a global economy,” reported Dr. Hefner.

To see the presentation, tune in at 53:15 (min:sec)

School board policy revisions presented

Four policy revisions were presented for second reading and will be presented again next month for a third reading.

  • Policy No. 4240/7312 - Child Abuse and Related Threats to Child Safety
  • Policy No. 5210 - Distribution and Display of Non-School Material
  • Policy No. 5220 - Collections and Solicitations
  • Policy No. 8220 - Gifts and Bequests

The following new policy was presented for a second reading and will be brought back next month for a third reading.

  • Policy No. 7360/8225 - Crowdfunding on Behalf of the School System

Four new policy revisions were presented for a first reading and will return next month for a second reading.

  • Policy No. 1200 - Governing Principle - Student Success
  • Policy No. 1400 - Governing Principle - School Initiatives
  • Policy No. 1700 - Governing Principle - Removal of Barriers
  • Policy No. 1800 - Governing Principle - Stewardship of Resources


All Alexander County Board Policies are available for review by the public at or the Alexander County Board of Education Office on Liledoun Road, Taylorsville, North Carolina.

To see the presentation, tune in at 1:02:35 (hour:min:sec)

Alexander County Schools Budget approved

The board approved the 2019-2020 School Budget of $51,590,843.

“Our 2019-2020 budget reflects our belief that we are efficient with the funding we currently receive, and we realize an investment in our children is an investment in Alexander County’s future,” stated Dr. Hefner in the superintendent’s budget message.

To see the presentation, tune in at 1:03:38 (hour:min:sec)

Approval of easement for pump station

School board members approved the request for an easement for the pump station at Stony Point School campus for the construction and maintenance of a pump station.  The school is currently the only user of the pump station. It is a gravity-feed pump and would allow for future use by Shurtape.  

 To see the presentation, tune in at 1:06:40 (hour:min:sec)