The Elkin Board of Education continued its discussion on proposed revisions to the discretionary admission policy for tuition students. The policy looks at the rules and regulations of sending tuition students back to their residence depending on academic, attendance, and behavioral issues. The regulation has been under the microscope for a while and the board discussed issues with the new policy to help clean it up before finalization.
“This is a policy we’ve been looking into for a while,” said Dr. Don Martin. “We need to qualify what a good standing is for a student based on academic progress, attendance expectations, and behavior expectations. These are expectations for people who are a tuition student.”
The policy would state that there is an expectation for conduct that the student attend school regularly and pass at least 75 percent of the course. If a student has ten or more unexcused absences or 30 or more unexcused tardies, the student may be reassigned. One area of debate in the policy is when the student would be reassigned back to their residential area, such as at the end of the school year. The policy also notes that if the student is in high school and has successfully completed two years in that school, they will stay in that school.
The policy in theory states that the termination of a student would be at the end of the grading period but the period could mean different things depending on the school and education level.
“What does a semester mean or what does a block schedule mean?” asked Dr. Martin. “Everyone can go on a lot of semantics on that. Everybody needs to be clear along those lines. How is it different from middle school and how different is it from high school? The main question is at what point will somebody have to be returned to their home district?”
“A student’s standing is reviewed at the end of each grading period when the final grades for the classes are recorded,” said Dr. Jane Riley. “That’s an important time to review their overall status.”
Students in both elementary and middle school also have to be considered differently because of smaller block classes. Many board members believed that decisions regarding students in these schools should be made at the end of the full school year.
The board also discussed the concept of what good standing means.
“It’s a philosophical issue. What is good standing?” asked Dr. Martin. “You can made a lot of little tweaks for that. What does good standing mean?
“I think our administration has done well of reviewing each situation and it’s important for them to have that right,” said Vice Chair Haley Sullivan. “If a child has ten absences at the start of the school year, them it’s not that child’s best interest to get to our school system.”
Martin stated that a family should be on terms of all the factors being considered.
“Unless it’s a discipline issue, on the other levels of good standing, I have a problem with sending a kid back before the end of the grading period. I think it could impact the kid even more negatively making a school change mid semester,” said James Freeman.
“You have to consider the case if something very aggressive when it comes to discipline happens, such as a student bringing a weapon on the grounds. You don’t want to take authority away from principals depending on the issue,” said Chairman Dr. Richard Brinegar.
“There’s a difference between being a bad actor and being a bad student,” said Martin. “Both should be treated differently from one another.”
The board agreed that changes should be made to address a student’s standing at the end of a class, either being a full year for elementary or middle school students, or a semester for high school students.
“Let’s treat misbehaving differently,” said Martin. “The academic portion would be at the end of the grading period. Make the grading period clear in the policy. The punishment for disciplinary situations is the principal’s decision period. They are in charge of the discipline of the school.”
“It’s our responsibility to educate and my perspective is if the child is not being successful, perhaps we’re not being successful,” said Riley. “That’s very different from the way these policies are written. If somebody’s getting sent to the office 10 or 15 times, we need to find an answer for the issue but that answer may not be here.”
Martin agreed to continue working on the policy and bring a sample draft to the next board meeting for further discussion.
In other action, a resolution was passed to conditionally accept a gift of timpani drums for the Elkin School band to be presented as a concert provided by the North Carolina School of the Arts Orchestra in Dixon Auditorium at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 25.
“It’s a great opportunity for all of our students as well as the community at large to see a performance by the NC School of the Arts Symphony,” said Dr. Martin. “Our current drums were purchased in 1988. They have to be tunable. We’re going to offer pizza for kids, give the opportunity to meet the director and the musicians. WIFM has agreed to air the show. We’re looking at a whole series of things. Folks have donated money for the drums. We do believe that the drums can be used by churches and any other local nonprofits. There are some uses beyond the school district.”
In the consent agenda, a motion was made to approve a Field Trip Request Form for a Wilderness in the Smokies trip for 8th graders Beta Club in Sevierville, Tennessee on Sept. 23.
On Friday Sept. 9, the Buckin’ Elk Tailgate Party will be from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
On Monday, Sept. 26, the regular board of education meeting will take place at the Administration Center at 5 p.m.
The personnel report and the closed session minutes for July 25 and Aug. 15 were passed on a unanimous vote.
Troy Brooks may be reached at 336-258