Thursday, 11 January 2018 00:38

RCS Facing Potential "Hurt" as New Mandate Looks to Shrink Class Sizes; Other Accolades Given at First Board Meeting of 2018

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RCS Superintendent Dr. Cindy Goodman. RCS Superintendent Dr. Cindy Goodman. Photo courtesy of Goodman's Twitter page.

HAMLET – The Richmond County School Board’s initial meeting of the new year was held at the Board of Education Office at 118 Vance Street in Hamlet on Tuesday, January 9, from 5 – 6 p.m.

Following the call to order by Chairman Wiley Mabe and the Invocation by board member Donald Greene, no less than fourteen items of business – most of which pertained to the recognition of personnel talent in the Richmond County School System – were reviewed.

Multiple awards and recognitions were acknowledged by the Board.  Inspiring Excellence awards were presented to Karol Slack and Kim Webb of Washington Street Elementary School; the 2017 Math Award was presented to Erin Norris of East Rockingham Elementary School by Kelly DeLong; and Dr. Emilie Simeon presented an overview of the county’s Principal Development Program.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) Director Sharon Johnson requested approval of particular members for the CTE Advisory Council for 2018, specific budget amendments were similarly presented for Board approval by Tina Edmonds, individual Board members offered personal insights regarding various facets of the ongoing operations of the school system in Richmond County, and Superintendent Dr. Cindy Goodman noted many of the outstanding achievements and ongoing efforts of school personnel.

Some of these efforts were directly recognized beyond a cursory comment.  Indeed, several Richmond County teachers and staff members have been awarded monetary grants to further specified educational endeavors at their respective schools. 

“Bright Ideas Grants” have been bestowed upon several Richmond County schools for programs developed and championed by their staff persons.  Jason Harris of Fairview Heights Elementary School offered an overview of the Lego WeDo 2.0 Robotics program; Meghann Lambeth of Mineral Springs and Ellerbe Middle School provided insight regarding development of an autism resource center.

Leiah Jarrell, media specialist at Ellerbe Middle School, explained the concept underlying a new “Maker Space” program for personalized learning opportunities; and Nikki Covington and Michelle Denham of Rockingham Middle School discussed an innovative “literature circle” that entails blog book reports by individual students.

While the jubilant spirit of the meeting was evident throughout most of the session, there was a semi-sobering report that captured the attention of both the audience and the Board:  the potential impact of the Class Size Reduction Act upon Richmond County School.

Presented by Dr. Julian Carter, the district’s director of human resources, the statistical analysis of the potential effects of this recent legislation revealed the need for our school system to quickly accommodate the proverbial “unfunded mandate” of reducing class size.  

Succinctly, Dr. Carter indicated that, while it could be accomplished, it would not be without pain and focus. 

“General Statute 115C-301 will hurt (the district),” said Carter.  “Simply reducing class sizes to the level required by the General Assembly will necessitate the hiring of additional teachers and associated staff.

“Each new teaching position requires approximately $50,000 – that is money that must be taken from elsewhere,” Carter added.

Returning to a more positive note, the Board bestowed yet another award:  Regional Principal of the Year.  Richmond Senior High School principal Jim Butler was this year’s recipient, and he acknowledged the “tremendous support” and help that he receives “on a daily basis” from his staff and teachers.

The Richmond County School Board usually meets on the second Tuesday of each month at the Administrative Office on 118 Vance Street in Hamlet.  Meetings are open to the public and citizens are always encouraged to attend.