By JONAH LOSSIAH
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The Tuesday, Feb. 18 meeting of the Cherokee Central Schools (CCS) Board of Education was called to order at 4:45 p.m. with Chairperson Jennifer Thompson; Secretary Tara Reed-Cooper; Board members Gloria Griffin and Regina Ledford Rosario; School Board Assistant Sunnie Clapsaddle; HR Director Heather Driver; Superintendent Dr. Michael Murray; Assistant Superintendent Dr. Beverly Payne; and Tribal Council representative Chelsea Saunooke present. Vice Chair Isaac Long and Board member Karen French-Browning were both late to the meeting.
The minutes from their Monday, Feb. 3 meeting were approved along with the agenda for the day.
Also present at the meeting was CCS’s attorney John Henning. He was there for several reasons. The most pressing of which was his insight on the $22 million-dollar expansion that CCS plans to begin this summer. In May 2019, the school began to converse with Henning about the possibility of hiring Vannoy Construction as the general contractor for job.
Henning said that he had done his research on the company and has a positive history with them. He continued by saying he has no trouble with Vannoy taking the job upon approval from the School Board.
The Board then voted unanimously to approve Vannoy Construction.
In terms of more solidified dates moving forward, Superintendent Murray said that the project is a ‘moving target,’ and that it would be difficult to pin down dates for the time being. Once Vannoy gets to work, there will be more clarity on timelines.
Other guests for the meeting included Howard Wahnetah, Ashford Smith, and William Lowe to provide a finance update.
Given that CCS is in its seventh fiscal month, a target of 58 percent use of the budget was placed for this time. The majority of departments are under this mark for the year, though there is one outlier.
Under Special Education (SPED), the ISEP (Indian School Equalization Program) budget is at 86 percent use of its annual budget. Lowe explained that this had to do with a reclassing of salaries in the program. He said that it makes the numbers look strange for now, but in terms of the overall budget the dollars are there.
Superintendent Murray addressed a Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) audit that has been given to CCS. He explained that it is from the 2017 fiscal year, and that they up to a year to respond. He assured the Board that they planned to address the issues in the audit.
Howard Wahnetah followed up with an update on the Board’s request to increase monetary incentive for academic awards. During the last finance update, the Board said they have received multiple complaints that kids are receiving very small rewards during the end of year academic award presentations. They felt that $3 wasn’t near enough, and that incentives for academics should be raised.
Wahnetah said that he has had discussions with the school principals, and that the reward money will be accounted for in next year’s budget. He said that for this year, there is enough money in the CCS discretionary fund to increase the amounts provided to students. Regina Ledford Rosario proposed to offer some money from the School Board’s discretionary fund as well, if needed.
The final topic in the budget discussion came from Assistant Superintendent Payne, who said that the School Board’s travel the training budget has been increased. In the past couple of years, the entire Board has been attending some of the conferences they used to be attended by one or two members. This has skewed their numbers for this year, so they will be planning to have more training and traveling for upcoming fiscal years.
Following the finance update, the Board moved to approve the consent agenda. It put into place the following:
- Nunnie Davis is approved as a volunteer for the Varsity Baseball Program for the 2020 season.
- Raven Grant is approved as a full-time custodian for CCS.
- Rose Mills is approved as a volunteer for the Varsity Softball Program for the 2020 season.
- Paige Stamper is approved as a volunteer for the Track & Field Program for the 2020.
- Sidnie Yanez is approved as a volunteer for the Varsity Girls Soccer Program for the 2020 season.
There was also one walk-in resolution that was voted for unanimously. This approved Myron Swayney as a custodian for CCS.
The Board then reviewed a new job description for the Volleyball Varsity Head Coach. The topic of discussion was under qualifications/experience. The following has been added to the description of Head Athletic Coaches moving forward:
“Previous successful head coaching experience at the varsity level.”
It was agreed upon that it would be best to have a measure of that success. They said it would be better to have a specific time of which they were coaching with quality results.
Superintendent Murray then provided an explanation to the Board on his position towards the offer to host the World Changers event this summer. He said that while he is in full support of the program, it is not feasible given the current state of the school. Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed had requested that CCS look into hosting the event.
He said that with the construction set to begin this summer to go along with multiple summer programs, CCS simply wouldn’t have the time or resources to appropriately accommodate the World Changers this year. Murray said that it might be something that they should look back into following the construction project in a few years.
The Board also discussed a recent exit review for the full-scale evacuation drill that was held at the CCS. Murray said that overall it was a success, but that there were holes in the drill. He said there were notes on a need to increase communication, and that they will the critiques in mind moving forward.
The Board the went into closed session to discuss security issues. The was nothing reported from the closed session.
They finished their meeting in an Ethics Training led by Attorney John Henning.
The next meeting of the CCS Board of Education will be held Monday, March 2 at 4:45 p.m.