Craven County Board of Education
Raynor and I attended the Craven County School Board meeting on 19 November, and it was a little different from the usual ones. When the meeting first started, we couldn’t hear much of what was going on because Chairman Ipoch and Superintendent Mills were huddling over something, and since they were sitting side by side, we in the “audience” could not hear. I asked the Chairman to please use the mikes so we could hear, and he said he didn’t think they were turned on, and asked if I could hear now.  I said I could since he was now addressing us. From then, on we could hear okay.

The part we couldn’t hear was probably about the problem that a quorum was not expected to be present at the evening session. They usually take motions and act on them at the evening session, but since they did not expect a quorum then, they decided to take motions and act on them during this morning work session. School Board Member, Kim Smith, kindly explained that to us toward the end of the meeting.
The agenda clearly showed that they expected to hear from six of their eighty-four (84) administrative staff members on the subjects of child nutrition, transportation, curriculum, finance, human resources, and public relations.

Most of these reports were pretty mundane and contained things like items that need to be removed from the “child nutrition” program (by whose order was not clear) and school buses that need to be retired.

However, when it got to the discussion of approving Action Plans for School Improvement, there was much gnashing of teeth that a plan had to be prepared at all. They railed against the idea that the three schools that scored “D,” which translates to 40 to 54 numerically, should be required to have an improvement plan. The Board member that made the motion to approve the plans (which were not even discussed, nor were they available for review at the meeting), said she did so reluctantly because they had no choice but to approve the plans as they were required by “state.” Chairman Ipock said, “we have to approve the plans, but we don’t approve of the process.”
There were such comments as, “I think it’s a mistake,” and, “Proficiency and growth are confusing,” and, “Our best teachers are in tears over this,” and, “These letter grades hurt the schools.”  There were also objections to the “Testing Advisory Council” that the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) set up.

The Board seemed united in agreeing that “poverty” is the issue, not race, gender, etc.  I would like to have asked them, “If that is the case, why are so many records required to compare performance on the basis of race, gender, country of origin, etc.?”  I know that, when I was growing up, my family was still suffering from “The Great Depression,” but we darn sure went to good public schools.  I believe they were better than most of today’s public schools.  We learned patriotism, how government is supposed to work, about our founders and the settlers of America (who were treated as heroes, not racists) and, by the way, high school graduates either got a job or went on to college, mostly four year universities.

Oh yeah, the Board approved a plan to send students on an “out of Country” trip to Italy in June of 2017.  It was unclear as to what extent taxpayer money is underwriting the trip.  My senior class did not get a class trip, and Raynor’s got to go on a wonderful trip to Philadelphia.  (She paid her own way.)  My how things have changed.

Lastly, there was some discussion of $200,000 the Board of Commissioners gave the school system for computers. There was a question about what happened to the old ones, but the Board seemed to take this for a joke.  They also discussed a couple of other financial matters that they referred to as “Strategic Direction Alignment: Efficient and Effective Operations.”  Don’t they enjoy using fancy phrases?  One might almost call it “puffery.”
Respectfully submitted,
Hal James
CCTA Watchdog Committee Chairman

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