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Graves takes oath for school board

The Stanly County Board of Education welcomed its newest member Tuesday night.

Anthony Graves officially took his oath of office, administered by Register of Deeds Suzanne Lowder, at the board’s December meeting. Graves, a board newcomer, and Jeff Chance were victorious in the general election.

Unfortunately, Chance remains too ill to begin his board representation. A call for prayer for Chance was among the night’s topics of discussion.

“Hopefully, in a month or two he’ll be able to join us and take an oath,” said Melvin Poole, who was again voted as board chairman.

Ryan McIntyre was selected as vice chairman.

Superintendent Jeff James administered a series of recognitions. First, he recognized Melissa Smith, principal at Central Elementary School, for the school’s designation as a Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) Green Ribbon School.

Next, Stanly County Schools acknowledged its 12 teachers to achieve the Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS) Highest Growth Index, which is an efficiency score. EVAAS examines the impact of teachers, schools and districts on the learning of their students in specific courses, grades and subjects.

Teachers honored were Patricia Whitely – Stanly Early College High School, Nancy Deeck – Badin Elementary, Shannon Sanders – West Stanly Middle, Robert Letto – West Stanly High, Tina Carter – West Stanly High, Mark Rowles – West Stanly High, Jason Huneycutt – Stanly Early College, Joyce Hansen – West Stanly Middle, Tammie Griffin – West Stanly Middle, Krista McGuire – East Albemarle Elementary, Kiyana Wilkins – East Albemarle Elementary and Alexis Fox – Stanfield.

Another recognition included the Citizens for Safer Schools for its charge in helping secure the passage of the 1/4-cent sales tax. After a fifth referendum, county voters finally passed the tax in the interest of making schools safer.

Jeff James

“It takes a community effort to do great things,” James said of the effort.

Principal Damon Rhodes showcased his school, Badin Elementary, as part of the meeting’s academic accolades.

At 513 students, Badin is deemed as one of the district’s largest elementary schools. Its enrollment grew by 39 students over last year.

More than half, or 52 percent, of the school’s students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

Rhodes said Badin Elementary is the system’s first school to score a B on the state’s annual school report card while also exceeding growth.

The board approved the superintendent’s recommendation to make Jan. 23 a make-up day for students. Although students were originally scheduled to be out of the class on the day, they’ll need to report to class.

During James’ report related to auxiliary services, there was a brief debate about textbooks versus digital lessons. Board member Glenda Gibson hinted of concerns about the district’s lack of textbook use.

“We’re lacking in many resources,” James countered, adding that even digital lessons have evolved into a recurring expense for annual subscriptions.

Because of the advent of technology and the numerous devices students use today, a digital format seems to be more consistent with how students consume information, he explained.

“Professional development is the key to getting students to learn,” James said.

Gibson seemed to question the district’s growing dependence on digital lessons as the ideal vehicle. She suggested more textbooks should be available to teachers.

Glenda Gibson

“I’d like to see our teachers have input,” Gibson said of future decisions.

During his first comments as a board member, Graves said the school district needs to focus on providing the public with greater “transparency” and “accountability.”

In what has become an annual tradition in December, the North Stanly High School Handbell Choir entertained the board and those attending the meeting by performing three Christmas classics.