By JONAH LOSSIAH
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The Tuesday, May 21 meeting of the Cherokee Central Schools (CCS) Board of Education was called to order at 11 a.m. 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; and Tribal Council Alternate Representative Bo Crowe present. Tribal Council Representative David Wolfe was the only absentee for the meeting.
Opening prayer was led by Superintendent Murray and the minutes from the May 6 meeting were approved.
Then, the agenda for the current meeting was approved.
The Board then welcomed the first two guests for the meeting – CCS Finance Director Howard Wahnetah and Cherokee Boy’s Club (CBC) Assistant Finance Director Ashford Smith who first introduced the CBC’s new Finance Director William Lowe. The Board was presented with several versions of an updated finance report for CCS. The difference between the reports was the wage percentage increases for teachers and teacher assistants.
The decision that needed to be made was to finalize the school budget now, or to wait for the state. It was stated that the benefit to waiting for North Carolina is that the Board could base their pay increases off the state’s. The disadvantage is the waiting game.
The attention of the meeting was then turned to 21st Century After School Program. Yona Wade, the CCS Director of Community Affairs, came to the meeting requesting funds from the Board for after school program.
Smith spoke for Wade when first presenting this information. Wade has been trying to close a grant for two years but has continually run into issues with the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE).
“Yona at that time [in 2017] was ready to close the grant out,” said Smith. “He said there was no need for it, we’re going to send the money back. We’re funding this locally now. For one reason or other, it didn’t get reported to the BIE that we weren’t still spending out of that fund. So, the BIE wants their money back and there’s not enough money in that account.”
Wade has records of his attempts to pay the money back, but he says there was a miscommunication of how to return the money in 2017. The center of the confusion came from the fact that due to funds being transferred via wiring, Wade and his office could not initiate the payment.
The amount needed from the Board is $54,187.15. The total amount being paid back to the BIE is $189,706. A motion was made to provide this money, and the motion was passed. Dick Crowe was the one member opposed.
This concluded the finance update, and the Board moved to the consent agenda and its 80 resolutions. The majority of those resolutions were in regard to the CCS summer school programs, though there were a few exceptions:
- Bonnie Brown was approved to fill a teacher position for Cherokee Elementary School.
- Amy West was approved to fill a teacher position for Cherokee Elementary School.
- Anna Bartlett was approved to fill a teacher position for Cherokee Elementary School.
- Tina Swimmer was approved as CCS Varsity Volleyball Head Coach.
One resolution was pulled entirely, and two others were singled out to be voted on. The other 77 were quickly passed.
Resolution 19-270 to approve Carolina Hyatt for the 2019 Cultural Summer School Program was voted on separately. Jennifer Thompson abstained from the vote due to a personal relationship with Hyatt, and the resolution was passed.
Resolution 19-272 to approve Crystal Lambert for the 2019 Cultural Summer School Program was the other item voted on separately. Karen French-Browning abstained from the vote due to a personal relationship with Lambert, and the resolution was passed.
There was also an added resolution, 19-308, which was approving another position for the STEAM Summer Camp. This resolution was passed.
There was no old business discussed at this meeting.
Dr. Elizabeth Younce was welcomed to request an increase to the Part B grant. The increase from 2.3 million to 3.9 million dollars would help to add positions, benefits, an increase in supplies, and adding money to the Joey Parker playground fund.
The Board moved to approve these supplemental funds.
The other new piece of business was to approve and sign the Local Education Agency (LEA) Assurance Title 1, which was quickly presented and approved.
In other discussion, Superintendent Murray presented a request from the JROTC to install training poles across the road from the school on CCS property. It would not be of cost to the CCS. The Board approved the motion.
The Board then went into a closed session to speak with a student of CCS. No report was provided for the closed session.
The final topic addressed before adjourning was to confirm the next meeting date of Monday, June 3.