Weldon City Schools Board of Education

The Weldon City Schools Board of Education members held a meeting Thursday night.

The Weldon City Schools Board of Education discussed matters on increasing the district’s stipend and superintendent search update on Thursday.

The board held two separate meetings, a work session and a specially called meeting, virtually in one sitting.

An item on the agenda was a board stipend.

Chairman O.D. Sykes opened discussion on the topic by reminding board members of the time both Weldon City and Halifax County schools came to the Halifax County Board of Commissioners in 2017 to request changes to their board stipends. Sykes read from a letter sent to the school district boards from County Attorney M. Glynn Rollins Jr. stating, “The commissioners have declined to exercise their authority to fix the compensation and expense allowances for school board members.”

Sykes continued reading from the letter saying the commissioners made it clear through unanimous action on Sept. 18, 2017, when both WCS and HCS board members made the request for an increase in compensation. The letter also noted the requests were not denied, but the commissioners declined to take action over school board compensation and expense allowance, he said. According to the letter, Sykes said the commissioners needed a local act from the General Assembly in order for the commissioners to take such a position.

“If we’re going to pursue that, we need to start talking with them now,” he said.

Skyes continued and said previous conversations with Sen. Milton “Toby” Fitch Jr. (D-4) and Rep. Michal Wray (D-27) indicated that a resolution bill would be required from the board of education in order for the two officials to assist.

Board Attorney Rod Malone suggested that if the board was interested in a change of the stipend, they should reach out to the HCS board members for a joint request after referencing local legislation that required WCS to receive the same compensation and expense allowances. The pact would work with the local delegation to get a document drafted to increase a more reasonable number, Malone said, and agreed that the school board’s compensation is low compared to what other school boards receive.

“And just how much more difficult it’s become over the years to be a school board member,” he said. “There’s a lot more work involved — a lot more preparation time involved. This year is a great example of that.”

The board members agreed to pursue the endeavor and reach out to HCS for further discussion.

In the specially called meeting, Staff Attorney Nancy Black of the North Carolina School Board Association returned to board members an update regarding the school district’s search for a new superintendent. Black presented survey results from school staff and the community on the qualities desired for a new superintendent. With the search beginning in September and an application deadline in November, she said the school district had a great response with individuals interested in the position.

Black said there are 40 applicants from 13 states, with many from across North Carolina and locally.

The presentation showed the community survey responses ranking what was desired in the next superintendent:

1. Has strong human relations or “people skills”

2. Communicates well with people of all races and socioeconomic status

3. Knows how to get staff, students, parents and community to work together to help children learn

4. Understand how to provide safe environments for students and staff

5. Communicates well with all community groups

6. Has ideas and approaches to improve graduation rates and prevent dropouts

7. Understands how to effectively advocate for resources needed to operate the schools

8. Has ideas and approaches to close achievement gaps

9. Supports the use and development of technology in teaching and learning

10. Is willing to take new approaches to teaching and learning

Staff responses showed a ranking of desired experience and qualifications:

1. Experience as a superintendent with a proven record of success

2. Experience in finance, budgets and acquiring outside funding

3. Experience as a classroom teacher

4. Experience in instruction and curriculum development

5. Experience in North Carolina education

6. Experience as a principal

7. Experience in facility management

8. Experience in human resources

9. Doctorate or terminal degree

10. Experience as an assistant superintendent

The report had more information during the presentation, but Black highlighted the WCS leadership profile.

“It looks like to me that the board agrees with the public and the staff pretty much that they want somebody that knows how to handle finance, can collaborate, someone that cares about the people in the community, who can focus on getting resources to help teachers,” she said. “They’d really like a local person who’s familiar with the needs of the children in this rural community.”