School Board discusses closure at March meeting

by Mar 17, 2020NEWS ka-no-he-da





The Monday, March 16 meeting of the Cherokee Central Schools (CCS) Board of Education was called to order at 4:45 p.m. with Chairperson Jennifer Thompson; Vice-Chair Isaac Long; Secretary Tara Reed-Cooper; Board members Gloria Griffin, Karen French-Browning, 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. 

Tara Reed-Cooper lead in a prayer before the minutes from the March 2 meeting were approved. 

The first guests to the meeting were Howard Wahnetah, Ashford Smith, and William Lowe to provide a finance update on CCS and School Board budget. 

Wahnetah was first, showing that through March 15, the Board had used 58.8 percent of its annual budget. He said that they are well on schedule, with the target being 71 percent or less for this time. 

Smith and Lowe, of the Cherokee Boys Club, said that the CCS budget was also on target, with very little variance from their last meeting with Board in February. The Board said that they will have to adjust over this next period while CCS is closed and will have to see if that might effect the budget. 

Following their guests, the Board then quickly passed the consent agenda. Although these individuals will not be immediately reporting to their duties due to the closure, they decided to pass the resolutions just in case the school can still open soon. They passed the following:

  • Taran Swimmer approved as a volunteer for the women’s soccer team for the 2020 season. 
  • Paige Stamper approved as the varsity girls track assistant coach for the 2020 season. 

The longest discussion of the open session had to do with the current operations of the school. Assistant Superintendent Beverly Payne has been doing the math based on the days missed and what to expect moving forward.

“On Friday, we were missing 11 days total. We were still on track.  We were going to be fine with all the BIE, and the CFR has a threshold of instructional hours that we have to meet. We were well above that, even with our 11 days,” said Payne.

“We’re closed for two weeks, but that’s really 11 days,” she said. “Because it’s from the 16th to the 30th, right? So, it’s 11 days, which puts us up to 22 days. We’re still above the threshold that’s in the CFR if that’s all that we miss. It’s going to start to get a little trickier if this were to continue.”

Payne then spoke about work packs that CCS sent with students on Friday, March 13 in preparation for this event. She is hopeful that this can count as a supplement for some of the time lost in school, but that is up to the higher powers. 

As of Monday, March 16, all the CCS staff was required to be at the school. 

Superintendent Michael Murray said it was ‘all hands on deck’ to ensure that the school had as much material ready as possible and that everyone was on the same page. He said that he hopes to get to a point very soon where staff can work from home, and only essential personnel will be at the school. 

The school is looking to do whatever they can to help students with their work. Murray said that he is very understanding that network connectivity and access can be very limited in this area, and he is assessing options to offer more Wi-Fi availability and other resources through the school. 

The next guest was Yona Wade, CCS director of community affairs. He was at the meeting to discuss the plan for food distribution at the school starting Tuesday. He discussed the pick-up system that they were planning to use and noted they were going to keep a strict eye on numbers throughout the process in order to limit food waste and maximize outreach. They plan to run this program until the school reopens. 

After Wade said his piece, the Board moved to new business. They quickly worked through the first two items before moving into a closed session for the remainder of the meeting. 

They approved the job description for an interim counselor position at CCS. This is only a year-long position in response to approving a sabbatical request last meeting. It will hold identical duties, the only difference being that it is only for the 2020-21 school year. 

The Board’s last action in open session was to review the 2019 Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey which CCS middle schoolers and high schoolers will be taking this year. 

They then moved into a closed session to discuss a ‘personnel issue’, as well as the contract for Superintendent Murray. There was no report sent to the Cherokee One Feather about any actions taken. 

The next meeting of the CCS Board of Education will be held on Monday, April 6 at 4:45 p.m.