By ROBERT JUMPER
ONE FEATHER EDITOR
Budgeting, school outings, donations and more were discussed at the Cherokee School Board meeting held on Monday, March 18. The meeting started at 4:45 p.m. with Vice Chairperson Gloria Griffin calling the meeting to order. The remainder of the regular meeting participants included: Jennifer Thompson, board member and Secretary; board members, Karen French-Browning, Issac Long, John Crowe, and Tribal Council Vice Chairman David Wolfe (Tribal Council representative on School Board); Dr. Michael Murray, Cherokee Central Schools Superintendent; Sunnie Clapsaddle, School Board assistant; Deborah Toineeta, CCS Human Resources director; and Howard Wahnetah, CCS finance director. Not present for the meeting were Chairperson Charlotte Saunooke and Dr. Beverly Payne.
After roll call and opening prayer, Vice Chair Griffin called in the first request for time which came from Jama Anders who reported on the Iron Braves Games. Eighty competitors participated, and approximately 200 spectators were also in attendance. He thanked the school for the use of their facilities. The project is put on by CrossFit 2232 (a tribal member-owned company). Anders presented Superintendent Murray a donation check to the school for $1,300 for the Central School seniors and $1,200 for the strength conditioning program at the school. He also said that Crossfit donated 10 “slam balls” (valued at $700), a timer (valued at $350), and wooden platforms to the school. No action was required from the Board.
Kelly Canaday and Yona Wade presented the Family and Consumer Sciences Field Trip to New Orleans, La. The trip is scheduled for June 3-7. Canaday presented a detailed itinerary for the trip with a breakdown of costs. No action was required from the Board.
The Board next heard from the school’s CloseUp group. Three students from an Asian-Pacific trip (Hawaii) and two from the recent USET trip (Washington, D.C.) shared their experiences. In Hawaii, they did a simulation on foreign policy. The tour also included a hike up Diamondhead. The students from the USET trip did a presentation on domestic violence in Indian Country. They said they enjoyed meeting and sharing with different tribes and finding out how similar they are to their tribe. They also were more thankful because they met tribes that “don’t get some of the benefits that we get.”
There was a single item on the Consent Agenda regarding annual Christmas bonuses. Vice Chairman Wolfe suggested that this item be held until the budget is complete and everything else is covered. The Board tabled the issue.
Ashford Smith, from the Cherokee Boys Club, provided a brief financial review. He stated that the school’s current spending was where it should be at this time in the fiscal year. A question arose regarding a donation to SPED that seemed to not be in the proper line item for the specified need, which is playground equipment. Wahnetah located and identified the funds and the line item.
A special needs program staff member contract resolution tabled from a previous Board meeting was brought back for discussion. The request was to move an employee from an 11-month contract to a 12-month contract “based on her current step and level.” The Board approved this resolution.
The Swain County and Cherokee Central Schools Boards of Education meeting agenda was reviewed. There was no discussion of the Cherokee Boys Club and Cherokee Central Schools upcoming agreement expiration and signing.
An item of new business was brought by Radonna Crowe. When she was given the floor, she called for the Board to immediately go to closed session. She stated, “I first wanted to ask to go into closed session. This doesn’t pertain to the school system. It will be a board decision and then will need to be taken to Tribal Council.”
The Board also asked the administrative leadership to leave the boardroom for this closed session. On the agenda, the item that Radonna Crowe had brought for discussion was “School Board Retirement Resolution.” The closed session lasted approximately 15 minutes, and when the meeting resumed, there was no open discussion on the issue.
Dr. Murray delivered documents to the Board for signature to allow for submission for summer school grant funding (LEA). Board voted and approved to sign the papers.
He then presented a revised organizational chart to identify the Assistant Superintendent as the “second-in-command” when the Superintendent is out of office. This amendment was done at the Board’s request, and the Board voted and approved this amendment. Murray clarified by saying that it is always understood that the School Board is the ultimate authority about the administration.
Dr. Murray presented a request for the NAYO participants going to Hollywood, Fla. on April 18-20 to receive excused absences for the trip. Vice Chairman Wolfe and Vice Chair Griffin stipulated that the participants get the excused absences only if they have passing grades. The Board voted and passed the request with that stipulation.
Vice Chairperson Griffin then announced that there were “other items for discussion” to be a closed session. The Board voted to go into closed session, and no further reporting is available.