The Jackson County Board of Education began their recent meeting with policy questions from Board member Charles West.

West questioned if the Board needed to vote on North Jackson Middle School football situation prior to voting on coaches for the team. Superintendent Kevin Dukes explained that this was not a board item. He further explained that the board approves coaching supplements, not sports themselves. West questioned the  Board attorney on whether Dukes’ response was correct.
West went on to question if the board has a policy on naming sporting facilities. Dukes replied by explaining there is no policy and that over the years, it has been handled different ways. Dukes stated,  “There has been no consistency. We can look at a policy in the new manual for the future.”
West then stated, “It’s come to my attention that in May, 2016, the board voted to go to ten month contracts for all Tech School Instructors. It’s come to my attention that now we have some hired as nine month employees.”
Dukes replied, “ That is correct. At that point you made those all ten month contracts. After the fact, we went in the red, so we’ve backed them (new hires) off to nine month. “West questioned, “Is that not something the board needed to vote on?” Dukes attempted to explain that the board voted on the contracts of the teachers who were employed at the time of the vote, to be changed. West replied, “I think the Tech School is the center of attention here and Mr. Wright wanted it to go to ten months to get quality instructors. I think that’s what the board intended on doing, we voted on that and I think the board would have to vote to change that, Clara? [Board Attorney Claire Porter Bell]
Board President Chad Gorham said, “I was under the impression that those new employees were hired as nine month employees.”
West responded, “It wouldn’t have made good sense to move them up to ten month if we wasn’t intending on making everyone ten month. That was our intent. I think we should honor what the board intended. We had a work session and talked about that.”
Dukes interjected, “That was prior administration at that time, I was principal at Skyline. “West argued, “You was at the meeting  that was the intent of the board and we should honor what the board wanted.”
Gorham said, “ It is getting harder and harder to find those skill trade instructors.”
“It’s getting harder and harder to find a math teacher and a science teacher and a special education teacher as well,” stated Dukes. West then stated, “ At the time we was talking about that we talked about people at the tech school has things they have to do in the summer and that was part of their ten month contract. Lot of them go to the nationals, they all supposed to go to summer conference and they stopped because they wasn’t getting paid for it. That’s the reason we changed it as a board. I understand that the same thing goes for English teachers and history teachers but they don’t work in the summer.”
Dukes again interjected, “They have things they do in the summer too. There are several that have things to do and do things such as professional development in the summer. I would say it’s fair there’s not a school in the system who doesn’t put in time in the summer, they’re not on ten month contracts.
“West stated, “They understand that when they go in but we made a decision to put these on ten month contracts. The employees that was hired in understands they was on a nine month contract? I know better than that.”
West then questioned, “One more, what is the policy for visitors on our campuses? What’s the board policy?”  Dukes replied that everyone should check in at the front office of each school or board of education facility. West began reading, “5.71 School visitors. It should be the policy of the Jackson County Board of education that all visitors must report directly to the school office for written permission to visit said campus. A visitor is any person who is not a student, employee, or local official of the school. My question is is board members local officials? “ Dukes replied, “Right now you’re a local official. When that gavel is hit, you’re no longer a local official. When the meeting is over you’re an individual citizen. “ West stated, “ Clara I’m looking at you . So board members have to check in as a visitor is that right?” Board member Ken Storey stated, “I never thought that was the rule, I thought if we wore our tags like that gentleman here has on. If you got to the principal’s office to talk to him you’re not a citizen, you’re a board member. I’ve never been asked. I’ve visited every school. “ Dukes responded, “ When you go to the school as a function and you’re invited, that’s one thing. When you walk through a  back door questioning people, that’s another situation,  and we’ve had that situation this year. “ Storey replied, “The board has two or three responsibilities, it’s campuses and buildings. We’re over all the campuses and all the buildings. I believe it says somewhere in the handbook that the board members are responsible for school campuses and grounds.” Dukes argued, “If you’re there and saying hey I’m here looking for what they won’t tell me about, That’s not positive for our schools and you need to speak to me first.” West stated, “ Most principals don’t see it that way. Most principals invite all board members to come in and look around. I’ve not been to one that the principal didn’t go out of their way to make you welcome.” Dukes stated, “I know that to be untrue as well.” West then replied, “ We need to look at that principal if they doing that then. So you’re saying when we come to the central office or any school facility, we need to check in as a visitor?” Dukes responded, “When I go to any school, the first place I go to is the front office to check in.” Someone from the audience interjected, “Check the school governance act. “ West replied to the statement by saying, “I can tell you what the school governance act says. They don’t like elected superintendents and they assume everybody’s got appointed superintendents.” Gorham replied, “ They don’t assume everyone has appointed superintendents, they know which are elected and which are appointed. They may get all appointed at some point, but that’s neither here nor there.”
West then stated, “I got one more. Board policy says we supposed to get the agenda 48 hours before the board meeting. We got three board members here today did not get that agenda 48 hours before the board meeting.” Dukes replied, “ The agendas were emailed on Friday. That was 48 hours in advance. “ West questioned, “ What do you consider 48 hours? Sending them out Friday afternoon at 3:30 , then having a board meeting Monday afternoon is not 24 hours. Not during school time. Chad, the office is not open, you’re supposed to give 48 hours so people can come in and ask questions. You can’t come in during the weekend because the office is closed. “ Gorham stated, “48 hours is 48 hours.” West then stated, “ We gotta start following board policy. We can’t expect everyone else to if the superintendent and everyone else isn’t following board policy. Every month nearly we’ve mentioned it that we not getting it on time.” Dukes stated, “I can have Brad look it up right now, aside from one situation, you have gotten the agenda 48 hours in advance during my 15 months.”  West replied, “When we hired the teacher that didn’t have a teaching certificate. What got me in trouble to start with was emailing the agenda to board members because they weren’t getting it.” Storey questioned the Superintendent’s secretary, “Did you send it on the fax machine? “ She replied, “No. I did not fax it , I sent it on email.” Storey stated,” We don’t have access to getting the email other than the fax machine. That’s alright, something comes up next time, just call me and read it to me. Before I came, I went by the post office and made sure it wasn’t mailed.”
The board then moved on to regular business. A motion to approve the updated maintenance transportation salary was approved; a motion to name the Pisgah High School gymnasium the Carey Ellison Gymnasium was approved; a motion to approve an overnight trip for North Jackson’s Beta Club was approved.
 Prior to ending the board meeting Gant made a motion for the sake of clarification that the agenda be sent to board members 48 hours prior to the board meeting, excluding holidays and weekends. Porter answered by stating that this would be changing Board policy and that would have to sit until the next meeting. Gant stated that he thought it should be the real 48 hours. Porter stated this could be addressed at a work session but policy couldn’t be changed without the proper steps being followed. Gorham questioned Porter about the previous argument of 48 hours, to which Porter replied, “ 48 hours is 48 hours.” Gant withdrew his motion.

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