By JONAH LOSSIAH
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The first May meeting of the Cherokee Central Schools (CCS) Board of Education was called to order at 4:45 p.m. on Monday, May 6 with Chairperson Charlotte Saunooke; Vice Chairperson Gloria Griffin; Secretary Jennifer Thompson; Board members Isaac Long, Karen French-Browning, and John Crowe; Superintendent Dr. Michael Murray; Assistant Superintendent Dr. Beverly Payne; School Board Assistant Sunnie Clapsaddle; HR Director Deborah Toineeta; Tribal Council Representatives David Wolfe and Bo Crowe; and Finance Director Howard Wahnetah present. There were no absentees.
Opening prayer was led by Superintendent Murray, and the minutes from the April 23 meeting were approved.
The meeting’s agenda and 21 resolutions were then reviewed. Each reflected an open position to be filled, and all the following were approved unanimously by the board:
- Mianna Squirrell, Cherokee Middle Schools (CMS) Girls Basketball Head Coach.
- Norman Beck, CMS Co-Ed Soccer Head Coach.
- Eddie Swimmer CCS Track Head Coach, Indoor Track Head Coach, and Cross Country Head Coach.
- Aaron Hogner, Cherokee High School (CHS) Varsity Men’s Basketball Head Coach.
- Nunnie Davis, CHS Varsity Baseball Head Coach, MS Boys Basketball Head Coach.
- Taran Swimmer, CMS Volley Head Coach.
- Terri Hogner, CMS Softball Head Coach.
- Chris Mintz, CHS Varsity Girls Basketball Head Coach.
- Carr Crowe, CHS Men’s Golf Head Coach.
- David Napert, CHS Football Head Coach.
- Keith Payne, SPED Inclusion Teacher with CCS.
- Kevin Primo, CHS Women’s Soccer Head Coach, CHS Men’s Soccer Head Coach.
- Shelby Parker, CHS Varsity Softball Head Coach.
- Jack Gloyne, JV Boys Basketball Head Coach.
- Sharon Bradley, CCS Women’s Golf Head Coach.
- Matt Maney, CMS Boys Baseball Head Coach.
Two positions were pulled from the agenda for further discussion and have not been filled at this time:
- CHS JV Volleyball Head Coach
- CCS Varsity Volleyball Head Coach.
After addressing the agenda, the Board welcomed its first guests – the EBCI Investment Committee and EBCI Secretary of Treasury Cory Blankenship.
The committee opened with the announcement that a $22 million expansion budget has been set and approved by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. It won’t be a lump sum, but it will be given to CCS “as needed.” The project is expected to span four to five years.
“We’re doing a phase-in program,” said Superintendent Murray. “I’ve already started conversations with our attorney and with the architects that did this school, and we’re moving forward with the process.”
The second matter the Investment Committee discussed regarded the current management of the CCS and Boy’s Club budget.
Pending an analysis, the Board of Education is looking to hand over the financial investment responsibilities to the Investment Committee. Superintendent Murray relayed the Board’s concerns on their yearly return on their money. They feel that with the Investment Committee’s management they can see a significant increase in funds compared to their current situation.
This process would involve the Investment Committee making an investment portfolio for the Board, and possibly adding it into their own portfolio.
“I’m very happy to say that this committee has been together 7 or 8 years now, and we’ve been very successful. Even during our volatile times, because we focus on downside protection.” said Polly Kelley, the chairperson of the EBCI Investment Committee.
Superintendent Murray continued to say that they currently are in negotiations with the Cherokee Boy’s Club (CBC), and that the Investment Committee coming in could be “perfect timing.”
The Committee said that the analysis will take approximately a month, and that they should have a full report by the School Board’s first meeting in June.
“I just want to thank the Investment Committee for taking a look at this. I’ve been pushing for it for several years, since the stabilization fund was actually started,” said Tribal Council Vice Chairman David Wolfe, finishing the meeting with the Committee.
The Investment Committee then left, and the Board held a nearly hour-long closed session with Blankenship. No report was provided of the session.
After the meeting was reopened, CCS Finance Director Howard Wahnetah and CBC Assistant Finance Director Ashford Smith provided the Board with a finance update and the proposed 2019/20 School Year Budget. The Broad requested another document that provided a breakdown of the previous year’s budget, and it was provide by Smith and Wahnetah.
There was a dispute regarding the price of a new monitoring system that was being proposed for CCS. Murray asked the Board to consider the expenses compared to the net security increase. Most of the Board agreed that the expenses seem too steep, and that they would work together to find a better way to spend the money. School Board member John Crowe proposed putting that money towards a security monitoring room.
Another significant topic of discussion was the pay increases to employees at CCS. Wahnetah provided a report with a 5 percent increase to all employees, and this report was rejected due to a lack of funding. Further talks included who exactly should get the pay increase. The Board unanimously decided that teachers should get the largest pay increase. However, School Board member Karen French-Browning didn’t think it was fair that the teaching assistants weren’t budgeted for a raise.
“The teacher’s assistants at the elementary, they do a lot of the teaching,” said French-Browning.
“I know they can’t get what the teacher’s get because they’re not certified teachers, but I still feel they need to get something.”
Murray responded by saying that he agreed with her sentiment, but that North Carolina has completely backed away from pay increases for teaching assistants and that’s why it wasn’t reflected in their model.
This dispute led to the proposed budget being left unapproved for the time being, with the members of the Board agreeing that they wished to discuss wages thoroughly.
There was no previous business to discuss, as talks regarding the CBC Contract were tabled for this meeting.
New business included the approval of this upcoming school year’s supplies listings. Murray said that CCS made a strong effort to cut the supplies lists significantly, and that he wants it to be known that the lists are recommended and optional.
The final topic was supplying the Board members with forms to be a trophy sponsor for this year’s Athletic Banquet.
The Board adjourned after confirming the next meeting date of Monday, May 20.