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April 17, 2024 5:31 am

Leatham is new board of education chair

Craig Foucht, left, is the new vice-chair of the Wayne County Board of Education and Wade Leatham is the new chair.

GOLDSBORO — The Wayne County Board of Education held its organizational meeting Dec. 5.

Board attorney Richard Schwartz asked for nominations for chair. Board member J. Tommy Sanders III nominated Wade Leatham and board member Patricia Burden nominated Len Henderson. Leatham was named chair after receiving five votes. Voting for Leatham were board members Craig Foucht, Willie R. Joyner, Leatham, Sanders and Don L. West. Voting for Henderson were Burden and Henderson.

Leatham asked Schwartz to collect nominations for vice-chair. Burden nominated Henderson and West nominated Foucht. Foucht was named vice-chair after receiving five votes. Voting for Foucht were Joyner, Sanders, West, Leatham and Fought. Voting for Henderson were Burden and Henderson.

Adam Scepurek with Anderson, Smith, and Wike presented the Preliminary 2021-2022 Financial Audit Report to help the board understand the district’s financial position as of June 30. Scepurek noted that there were no findings with the audit, indicating that appropriate financial practices were in place for the 2021-2022 school year.

He said that as of June 30 the board has a combined $11.7 million fund balance. In response to a question from West, Scepurek confirmed that federal COVID relief funds were used by the district for allowable expenses, and were not used to build the district’s fund balance.

Scepurek cautioned the board about rising increases in insurance and benefits plans which will impact future budget needs. He noted that the board, district administration and staff will need to continue their efforts to make tough decisions and operate within the budgets of its available funding sources, as local, state and federal allotments may not increase at the same level and/or as quickly as the increased expenses for personnel occur. To view the audit materials, click on WCPS 2021-2022 Preliminary Audit Report.

Later in the meeting, Chief Finance Officer Leslie Rouse presented the Budget Resolution FY 2022-2023, which equates to $255,017,104.00 from local, state federal and other revenue sources. The budget resolution was unanimously approved.

Julie Fail of Grantham Elementary was recognized as a North Carolina Department of Education Exceptional Children Educator of Excellence, students Natalie Allen and Kayle Nielsen of Northwest Elementary were honored for participating in the North Carolina Elementary Honors Chorus and Bertin Avilez of Spring Creek High for participating in the High Point University Emerging Artists Invitational.

Superintendent Dr. David Lewis recapped to the Board information about the Phase II Salary Schedule Options presentation and the recommendation made to the board Nov. 30 for its consideration. The next step for the board and the district is to set salary schedules in order to offer and promote consistent, appropriate and competitive starting salaries and predictable step increases, which take into account years of experience and education for different classified positions.

While the state provides salary schedules and grades for certified positions, school districts are required to establish salaries for classified employees and most do not have salary schedules and salary step increases that occur in the same way. Dr. Lewis reminded the Board that Option 2 will greatly support veteran staff across the classified areas, mainly due to salary compression which has led to a situation where veteran employees are essentially making the same salary as newly hired employees.

Much discussion followed about the district’s maintenance department, the skilled labor shortage occurring in the workforce, and whether the salary levels for the maintenance department are where they need to be, even with the implementation of the salary schedule. Lewis confirmed that information is still being collected regarding the salary schedules for maintenance staff employed by area governmental and education organizations. On Nov. 30, the Board tabled a separate agenda item specific to maintenance salaries until more information could be collected.

Henderson motioned to approve Option 2. After board discussion, Option 2 was approved unanimously. The historic move for the district will impact 606 classified employees.

Dr. Tim Harrell, assistant superintendent for support services, discussed a property purchased by the then-Goldsboro City Schools, which was previously surplussed, for an interested buyer. Harrell reminded the board that the sale fell through and the facilities committee is now recommending selling the property via a public auction. After some discussion, Henderson made a motion to approve the following resolution as part of the next step to sell the property. The motion passed unanimously.

Harrell presented the Rosewood Middle School Architect Initial Contract. Discussion followed about the project committee planning process, the need to remain within the $20 million budget, and next steps in the next phase of architectural design. Without further discussion, Sanders motioned to approve the contract. The motion passed unanimously.

During public comment, Dave Galloway spoke on inappropriate materials in school media centers and Thomas “Moose” Huffman spoke about inappropriate materials within schools.

After unanimously approving the following Purchase Orders and Contracts, Rouse presented a Donation Report with 30 donations, which was unanimously accepted. Monetary donations received totaled $17,765, which ranged from a $20 donation at Northwest Elementary to three $5,000 donations to Goldsboro High, Dillard Middle and Wayne Academy. Non-monetary donations received were valued at $1,500, for items such as school supplies, snacks and earbuds. As noted in the report, WCPS has received $60,389.23 in monetary donations and $55,756.00 in non-monetary donations since the start of this fiscal year July 1.

The board discussed the matter of Anthony Williams vs. Wayne County Board of Education in closed session.

— From the Wayne County Board of Education web site