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January is School Board Appreciation Month in North Carolina, so this week’s Yellow Jacket Report celebrates the vital role that our Roanoke Rapids Graded School District Board of Trustees play in our schools and community. 

Members of the board of trustees contribute countless hours of their time and talents investing in public education in Roanoke Rapids as they govern the school district. 

Without a doubt, their actions and decisions affect the present and future lives of our children and our community.

Chairperson Michael Williams and Vice-Chair Valencia Davis lead the RRGSD Board of Trustees, who include Tammy Colston, Carol Dean, Steven Ellis, Henry Ford, Cathy Keeter, Ed Liverman, and Michael Salanik. 

These individuals exemplify local citizen control and decision-making in education as they contribute hundreds of hours every year leading RRGSD by crafting policies; hiring top-notch administrators; listening to community, staff, and student concerns; approving a district budget; and recognizing outstanding programs and people. 

Through it all, as board members, they are always tasked with keeping their eyes on the goal of student achievement to ensure a bright future for every child in the school district.

Serving as a board member is a huge responsibility as they represent all community members in shaping public education today and our community’s tomorrows. 

The time that board members spend in board meetings represents just a small fraction of the hours they spend in leading the district. 

North Carolina General Statute 115C-50, RRGSD Board Policy 2120 Code of Ethics for School Board Members, and RRGSD Board Policy 2123 Board Member Opportunities for Development require all members of the board of trustees to attend at least 12 hours of seminars and training sessions every two years to keep abreast of the latest trends in educational leadership. 

Board members are also deeply involved in community activities, visiting the schools in our district, and attending extracurricular events to support our students and staff.

In 2023-24, RRGSD’s Board of Trustees is focusing on three strategic areas: 

(1) Board committees 

(2) School safety

(3) Student discipline and procedures. 

Each of these areas has a specific goal, with objectives, strategies, and a timeline. 

Beginning tonight the new structure utilizing monthly board committee meetings instead of board work sessions begins. 

Committees will determine which items on their agenda will be passed along to the full board for information and which items will be presented, with a recommendation from the committee, for full board action at the board meeting — the next board meeting is January 16. 

The committee chairperson will present all items, along with the committee’s recommendation on action items, at the meeting of the full board, but all items, both action and information, may not be presented in detail, given and provided that an explanation of each item has been provided in the agenda package.

There are four board committees. 

Each board committee is led by a committee chairperson — elected tonight — with three other committee members plus two RRGSD cabinet members serving as non-voting members. 

Every board member is serving on two committees, with Williams and me as superintendent serving as ex-officio members of all four committees. 

Committees will meet the second Tuesday of the month at either 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. in Building A of the Central Office. 

All committee meetings are open to the public.

The Curriculum Committee consists of Valencia Davis, Carol Dean, Cathy Keeter, and Michael Salanik and is supported by Lauren Hinnant, executive director of Instructional Services, and Krissy Martin, Coordinator of MTSS and COVID-19 Interventionists, and meets at 7 p.m. Tonight, the committee will discuss math curriculum adoption, calendar committee updates, the Media and Technology Advisory Council, professional development updates, and preferences on data presentations.

The Facilities and Safety Committee consists of Tammy Colston, Steven Ellis, Henry Ford, and Ed Liverman and is supported by Sara Council, director of Student Services, and Robbie Clements, director of Facilities and Operations, and meets at 7 p.m. 

Tonight, the committee will discuss December 2023 school-level student discipline reports, athletic conference changes, school safety focus area updates — district and school safety teams, safety walks with RRPD, and request for proposals on the school security risk assessments — domicile and residency updates — policy and procedures for establishing domicile and meeting residency requirements — and the long-range facility needs assessment.

The Finance and Personnel Committee consists of Steven Ellis, Cathy Keeter, Ed Liverman, and Michael Salanik and is supported by Andrea Midgette, chief finance officer, and Tracy Kidd, director of human resources, and meets at 6 p.m. 

Tonight, the committee will discuss the personnel report, acceptance of a gift, finance reports, and planning for the RRGSD budget — overview of salaries, new state salary schedules, and transportation funding.

The Policy Committee consists of Tammy Colston, Valencia Davis, Carol Dean, and Henry Ford and is supported by Jean Thompson, board clerk, and Felicia Few, executive director of CTE, Accountability, and Testing, and meets at 6 p.m. 

Tonight, the committee will discuss NCSBA Fall Policy updates, two other policy revision requests for Policy 7510 — Leave Policy — and Policy 2315 — Opening Invocations before Board Meetings — and updates to the RRHS Student Handbook.

“School boards are essential to a strong public education system,” North Carolina School Boards Association Executive Director Leanne Winner said. “They provide the local governance and oversight that makes it possible for school districts to serve students, including establishing a strategic plan, adopting policies, approving a budget and selecting and evaluating a superintendent. It’s fitting that we celebrate them in January as their leadership is key to the success of every school district in North Carolina.”

I hope that you will join me in recognizing the dedication and hard work of our RRGSD Board of Trustees by thanking them for their hard work and commitment to improving outcomes for students across the district. 

Their service ensures that decisions about local public schools are made by those most familiar with the needs of our community’s children and families. School board members deserve recognition, appreciation, and thanks for their dedication to Roanoke Rapids’s most precious resource – our children!