By ROBERT JUMPER
ONE FEATHER EDITOR
Cherokee School Board meetings are open to the public and routinely occur on the first and third Mondays of each month. The School Board met for its first regular meeting of the new year on Monday, Jan. 6. In attendance were School Board Chairwoman Charlotte Saunooke, John (Dick) Crowe, Jennifer Thompson, Karen French-Browning, Sunnie Clapsaddle (Clerk), School Superintendent Dr. Michael L. Murray, Assistant Superintendent Beverly Payne, Howard Wahnetah (Finance), and Deb Toinetta (Human Resources). Absent from the meeting were Gloria Griffin, Isaac Long, Vice Chairman of Tribal Council David Wolfe and Wolftown Rep. Bo Crowe. Those absent had been recorded as excused absences due to illnesses and prior commitments.
After roll call and prayer, there were presentations from those wishing to address the Board. Cherokee High School Principal Dr. Debora Foerst present four of the Cherokee Varsity Cheerleaders for recognition from the Board. The troupe did cheers along the 3-mile parade route during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. The young ladies expressed that it was a fun and interesting trip. They said that they had a closer bond with each other because of the trip and were glad to be on television. One cheerleader said of New York, “It is a big and exciting totally new world”. The Board thanked them for doing a good job representing their tribe in New York and to the millions who watch the parade.
Sylvia King and Kristy Maney represented the Cherokee Paranormal Activity Society (CPAS). They explained that their organization investigates and publicly reports publicly, via their social media page, incidents of paranormal activity. The presented audio and video examples of their work, including a dramatic recording of something controlling an unattended flashlight during an investigation at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. Their request was to be allowed to do an investigation of any possible activity at the Cherokee Central Schools. The investigation would take place during the closed hours of the school and would involve audio and video recording to capture any activity. After the presentation, the Board discussed options for allowing the group to perform their investigation. They approved the group to do their investigation with the stipulation that the Board be able to review and approve the group’s findings prior to publication.
Another business on the agenda concerned an action titled School Board “Resolution 119-148”. The requested regulation asked for the “test pilot program for the SP. ED., E.C.T. program for teacher assistants’’ continuing education for the SP. ED., E.C.T. student population be approved. C.C.S. employees participating in this pilot program will continue employment at C.C.S. after completing their degree for four consecutive years or pay a penalty of $4,000 should they leave employment. For each full year completed, a $1,000 will be deducted from the penalty payment. After the completion of the fourth year of full term employment, the employee shall not owe any penalty payment”. The Board voted to pass this resolution.
Dr. Murray commented, “We are looking at a lot of ways to invest in our school system. We encourage our people to go on and get their degrees and serve here and not lose them to other systems”. He said that teacher shortages are an issue in many school systems and fewer people preparing to enter the workforce are choosing to become teachers. “We are going to continue, in our school system, to be proactive about making sure we get a right fit here, and especially if there is somebody that is homegrown that we can work through, and the Board has also directed me to look at mentoring future administrators, because that is another area where there is a leadership void in North Carolina right now”.
Last item on their agenda was a Facilities Use request from Jama Anders to hold an event titled “Iron Braves Games II” on Saturday, Feb. 16 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Chairwoman Saunooke stated that he is anticipating approximately 80 participants for this year’s event. Board approved Anders’ request for use.
The Board adjourned. The next scheduled meeting of the School Board is Tuesday, Jan. 22 beginning at approximately 4:30 p.m.