By Anna Phillips | March 10, 2021 at 10:39 PM EST – Updated March 10 at 11:27 PM
NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – New Hanover County commissioners and the Board of Education held a joint meeting for the first time in several years Wednesday to discuss priorities for the next 5-10 years in the school district.
While Governor Roy Cooper announced Wednesday morning legislation that will allow middle and high schools to reopen under Plans A or B, Board of Education Chairwoman Stefanie Adams said they have not yet had the chance to review the new policy and she expects the board will discuss it during an interim meeting next Tuesday.
The joint meeting focused on big picture goals with presentations from Superintendent Charles Foust as well as the head of operations, Eddie Anderson.
Foust wants to see at least 90% of students reading at grade level within the next five years. The district is currently auditing to figure out what percentage of students meet that criteria right now.
He also wants to see the district achieve a 1:1 ratio for students and devices, meaning every student will have a tablet or laptop to use without having to share. The district is still looking at total costs and will plan a multi-year roll-out so that subsequent replacement costs can be staggered as well.
Additionally, Foust wants to improve community engagement with additional bilingual staff.
Anderson outlined facility needs now and as projected over the next several years, including preliminary plans for a new elementary school in the River Lights community as well as renovations and improvements for Pine Valley Elementary and Mary C. Williams Elementary.
Following his presentation, the board of education voted to request just under $900,000 in 2014 bond savings money be allocated to the continuance of these plans. Commissioners, in turn, voted to approve the expenditure.
The early goal is to have the new school(s) and renovations complete by 2025/2026.
“I feel it was very productive,” said commission chairwoman Julia Olson-Boseman. “We haven’t been together in years and just to have everyone sit down and basically agree we need to work together for the best interest of our students and put our students first, I was excited to be here with all the school board members and appreciate them coming.”
“I think its important that we understand each others needs,” said board of education chairwoman Stefanie Adams. “The school system has faced a lot of challenges this last year and in post-COVID life is going to present more challenges. And, as a fiscal partner, the county can support us in some of the needs that we anticipate are coming, whether it’s mental health, nurses, additional facilities.”
Copyright 2021 WECT. All rights reserved.