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Originally published: 2013-03-12 11:30:38
Last modified: 2013-03-12 11:30:38

Afterschool program to expand hours

Watauga County Schools plans to extend its afterschool program by 30 minutes and raise monthly fees by $29.50 next school year, director Pam Shirley said Monday.

Shirley said she hoped the change to a 6 p.m. closure would allow parents more time to pick up their children after leaving work.

"I think we've heard from parents across the county that this will be a valuable improvement to our programs," she said.

The afterschool program also will operate five extra afternoons next year due to a state law requiring five more school days be added to the calendar.

To account for the extra staff salary, along with projected overall increases in the cost of health care and retirement, the monthly fees will increase from $137 to $166.50.

That will make the per-hour care rate $2.57, Shirley said, or an increase of 3 cents per hour from the current rate.

The increase is still well below the market rate for child care centers in Watauga County, she said. Watauga County Schools is currently allowed to charge up to $225 per month for its afterschool program.

"I certainly commend you for working on this plan, and I know, especially in the western part of the county, that additional half-hour can make a lot of difference for people who work here in Boone," Chairman Lee Warren said.


Calendar changes

The board unanimously approved a recommendation to make March 21 and March 22 regular student school days to help make up for closures due to winter weather.

The days were previously set aside for staff professional development.

Watauga County Schools have completed 120 student days so far this school year, missing 15 days due to weather and road conditions. The schools also have used eight, two-hour delays.

The final student day is tentatively set for Monday, June 10.


Copier replacements

The board also approved the replacement of all school system copiers and the outsourcing of copier maintenance to Systel Business Equipment.

The quoted per-copy rate will result in annual copying costs of about $80,598 per year if copying volume remains at August 2012 levels, said Bob Auton, who has maintained the schools' copiers for about 20 years. The proposal did not come with a request for additional funding; the current funding will simply be reallocated, he said.

The school system also will upgrade to multi-function devices that copy, print, scan and fax.

"This is one of our biggest 'pain points' in the schools," Superintendent David Kafitz told the board.


Other business

At its meeting Monday, the Board of Education also:

-- Recognized numerous students and staff, including the Watauga County Teachers of the Year, Principal of the Year Toby Cone, school counselors and social workers, principals who participated in the Flapjack Flip and five schools who recently won awards for their Positive Behavior Intervention and Support programs. They also recognized band and orchestra students for recent achievements.

-- Approved field trip requests, an application for N.C. Education Lottery funds, a budget amendment and personnel changes.

-- Approved changes to the "Shared Accountability Standards" and "Grading and Reporting for Elementary Schools" policies and received proposed changes to the "Wellness Policy," "Elementary Attendance," "Threat Against the General Population" and "Substance Abuse" policies.

-- Met in closed session to discuss student records, criminal activity, personnel and attorney-client matters.