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home : news : education September 19, 2020

5/15/2020 1:23:00 PM
School Board Votes To Hold Second Graduation
School Board Chair Cathy Davis made the motion to hold a traditional graduation the weekend of July 31-August 1.
School Board Chair Cathy Davis made
the motion to hold a traditional graduation
the weekend of July 31-August 1.

Wayne Howard
Staff Writer

Friday's (May 15th) special meeting of the Lincoln County Board of Education was supposed to be for a discussion of the Schools' 2020-2021 budget.  The budget was discussed, but it was purely a presentation of the changes the administration is planning to deal with a big budget cut from County Commissioners.

The big news from the meeting came from an item that wasn't on the agenda, and one that in truth shouldn't legally have been discussed since it wasn't advertised as a part of the agenda, but it's doubtful anyone will object.  At the end of the meeting, School Board Chair Cathy Davis made a motion to hold a traditional graduation the weekend of July 31-August 1.  Todd Wulfhorst seconded the motion and it was unanimously approved.

Davis prefaced her motion by saying that she didn't believe that any member of the board was in any way not mindful of the students and especially the 2020 graduating class.  The board had voted Tuesday (May 12th) to allow each of the four County high schools to choose options including a drive-in, drive-through/parade, individualized, or 'virtual' commencement ceremony the weekend of May 29-30.  That graduation event will still be held, but if the pandemic subsides to a point where it can be done, the schools will also hold a traditional graduation July 31st or August 1st.

The budget discussion centered on steps the schools will have to take to comply with a budget that will be the smallest in three years.  The schools had requested an increase in their budget including an extra $800,000 to update and in some cases replace HVAC and IT systems; not only was that eliminated, but in the preliminary discussion, Commissioners cut the rest of the schools' budget by $1.5 million from what they got for this school year.  

Superintendent Dr. Lory Morrow told the board she isn't sure how many teaching positions will have to be cut--but estimated 11-13.  "We'll probably have some fifth & sixth grade classes with 30 students to a teacher," she said.  "We could have to opt for split classes."  

Commissioners made a preliminary increase to certified classroom teachers only of 2% in the local tenure, but emphasized that it would only be for classroom teachers.  Librarians, guidance counselors and others, although certified, won't be eligible for that increase.  

By comparison, Catawba County Manager Rick Berry's budget proposal released this week, while showing a decrease in the total budget of 4.1%, includes a 2% increase in Catawba County's total per-pupil funding, $5.5 million in school capital funding, and a fourth-year $1.3 million commitment to Catawba County's collaborative K-64 initiative.

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