By JONAH LOSSIAH
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The Monday, August 5 meeting of the Cherokee Central Schools (CCS) Board of Education was called to order at 4:45 p.m. with Chairperson Charlotte Saunooke; Vice Chairperson Gloria Griffin; Board members Isaac Long, Karen French-Browning, and John Crowe; Assistant Superintendent Dr. Beverly Payne; CCS Finance Director Howard Wahnetah; School Board Assistant Sunnie Clapsaddle; HR Director Heather Driver; and Tribal Council Representative David Wolfe present. Secretary Jennifer Thompson and Superintendent Michael Murray were absent from the meeting.
John Crowe led the opening prayer, and the minutes from the July 22 meeting were approved.
The meeting began with reports from three CCS summer trips.
They first called in Kelly Canady, Yona Wade, as well as one of the students that traveled to Louisiana for FACS. The trip was fully fundraised at no cost to CCS and allowed the kids to experience new cities and cuisine. The next guest was Spanish teacher Blanca Forester, who traveled with Wade and CCS kids to Costa Rica for a trip to study different cultures. There was nothing but positives to report.
The final trip report came from the HOSA trip, which brought in guests CCS Principal Dr. Debora Foerst and Craig Barker. It was an “interesting trip” according to Barker, who began to speak about the other chaperones on the trip. Before he could get into any detail, the Board made a motion to bring meeting into a closed session to discuss the rest of the HOSA trip. The Board offered no report on the closed session or trip.
After opening the meeting, Athletic Director Sean Ross provided an athletic department update. The meeting lasted about 30 minutes and touched on preseason preparation and imminent plans for the department. A major topic of discussion was the upcoming Battle of the Nations game at Choctaw. The estimated budget is currently $4,372 over the $11,087 budget allotted for the trip.
“I have two major lines that’s creating that negative variance. One would be the food. It’s a big group. There’s a lot of people to feed, and we have to feed them multiple times. So, that’s one of the biggest pieces. And, the second piece, and this where I think we have the flexibility to adjust in some capacity is the transportation piece,” said Ross.
The mode of transportation became a debate around the table. Ross says they planned to take Cherokee Boys Club (CBC) buses to Mississippi, but the rate seemed a bit high at $6,261 for two 55-seat charter buses. Ross attempted to get a smaller bus for the trip, but it didn’t change the price at all.
“Are we exclusive to them? Call Young and see what they can give us,” said John Crowe.
“They’re substantially less than the Boys Club is, I didn’t want to bring that up in here,” said Ross.
“If we violate the contract, what does that do?” asked Crowe.
The topic of exclusivity continued, and the Board decided that they needed to look into the specifics of the contract later.
Ross said, “What I would request is at least some sort of consistency in what they charge us in terms of a rate sheet. I’ve asked on three separate occasions. I’m told we’re charged by mileage. So, I calculate mileage. The mileage doesn’t match what they’re charging us. Ok, so I go back. I say, ‘this isn’t checking out’… So, then I say, ‘well let’s look, it’s an hourly rate.’ Ok so let’s look at the trip distance and length of time. The hourly rate does not check.”
He then recalled that it cost around $450 dollars to take the football team to WCU and back.
“This number that I received for the two buses for Mississippi seemed like an arbitrary number,” continued Ross.
“I definitely don’t propose we get rid of them by any stretch, I just need to have some sort of reasoning. Because I have to do projections.”
Ross then spoke to the idea of renaming Ray Kinsland Stadium to Ray Kinsland Memorial Stadium. He would have the scoreboard redone at the cost of around $1,700. This would include redoing the signage for the scoreboard as well. The athletic department also has plans of honoring Kinsland further by adding an ‘RK’ patch on every CCS sports uniform for the upcoming season.
The Board then welcomed an unscheduled guest, Michael Yannette, CCS Director of choir and musical theater. Yannette brought forward plans to reduce the score for their work “Si Otsedoha (We’re Still Here).” The benefit of this, Yannette explained, is that it would allow for any quintet to perform the music. They would own that composition, and they could travel to do shows. They did this show with the North Carolina Symphony last year and have multiple shows lined up to perform it in the upcoming year. Included in these is a performance with the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., who are offering $20,000 to host the show. The price tag for getting this composition done is about $7,000, which Yannette is planning to fundraise at no cost to CCS.
The final guest to the meeting was Aaron Hogner, the varsity men’s basketball coach at Cherokee High School (CHS). He came to clarify multiple requests to use the high school gym on Sundays. He wishes to host multiple basketball programs at CCS: a skill development program led by himself and other area coaches, the Coast2Coast skill development camp, and the WNC Phenom 150 basketball program. The Board approved each of these.
There were only six resolutions on the agenda, and the Board pulled four of them for further discussion. There were issues with the number of positions being offered compared to availability. They passed the two remaining resolutions:
· Approving John Murphy as a Part-Time Security Guard.
· Approving Sebastien Brun as a CHS Varsity Boys Soccer Assistant Coach.
The Board also accepted and approved two ‘walk-in’ resolutions which filled positions of a High School English teacher and a permanent substitute teacher at the Elementary School.
The final topic discussed before breaking for a meal was an overview of the CCS Budget presentation that will be brought forth to Budget Council.
After breaking for food, the Board finished the meeting in a closed session to discuss the Booster Club report for the 2019 school year and any remaining topics of discussion. Again, they provided no report on the closed session.
The next meeting of the CCS Board of Education will occur Monday, August 19.
Editor’s Note: In a subsequent conversation with Sean Ross, Athletic Director for Cherokee High School, he reiterated that, during the School Board meeting, he was not in any way advocating for using another transportation provider and wishes to continue to use Cherokee Boys Club services.