The board passed a policy entitled "Professional Personnel Reduction in Force."
"We were advised by the North Carolina School Board Association that we needed to update that policy," Superintendent Greg Firn said. He said the policy was adopted in anticipation of a need to reduce the school's work force.
The policy lays out the grounds for determining if a reduction is necessary. The grounds are: system reorganization, declining enrollment and financial exigency, or an urgent need or demand. Any of those circumstances are grounds.
First, the superintendent determines whether a reduction is necessary. Then the superintendent must present the recommendation to the board, including the grounds and relevant data along with the number or estimated number of affected employees.
The board must then determine whether or not a reduction shall take place or to reduce terms of employment. Then if the board has deemed it necessary to reduce the force, the superintendent will recommend which individuals should be dismissed, demoted, etc.
Career teachers who are dismissed will have their names placed on a list of available employees with priority for all openings for which they are qualified for three years. If that teacher is offered a position for which they are qualified and refuse, their name will be removed.
The board also passed a policy on employee-issued cell phones. The policy directs employees to compensate the school system for personal calls made using phones issued by the system.
The stated purpose was "to ensure that the wireless phone distribution, usage and reimbursement is essential, prudent and cost effective." The policy states no school employee or non-employee will be reimbursed for the use of their personal cell phone.
It makes department directors responsible for the issuance of phones and their oversight. The finance office is instructed to review bills on a monthly basis, a copy of which will also be supplied to the relevant department director.
Finally, a policy entitled "Prohibition against Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying" was passed.
"The new policy is more comprehensive and very specific," Firn said. He said the policy would standardize procedures by providing a common definition and the procedures administrators would take in reporting, investigating and concluding allegations.
The policy allows students to make anonymous reports of bullying and parents or guardians to make written reports. Teachers or other staff are required to report in writing on any bullying acts they witness or student reports they receive.
Investigation of these reports is mandatory. Parents or guardians of anyone involved in a bullying act must be notified if the act is verified.
In the case of someone who is repeatedly bullied or repeatedly bullies others, a case-by-case intervention must be developed.
The board heard about the use of virtual learning services by students over the summer. The number of students using these services far surpassed expectations.
Firn said if 20 students were to utilize those services, it would be considered a success.
The virtual learning services are being used by 187 students. They are taking 226 courses.
"So some of them are taking more than one," Deputy Superintendent Frances Williamson said.
The school board also passed a resolution that would keep the board operating on a budget of 85 percent of the previous year's budget until the state legislature finalizes the budget.