By JONAH LOSSIAH
One Feather Staff
The Cherokee Central Schools (CCS) Board of Education decided in a 5-1 vote that all their schools will return to ‘Plan A’ starting on Monday, April 26.
This means that all students will be in classrooms four days a week with COVID-19 precautions. The discussion was held at the Board’s meeting on Monday, April 5.
Board secretary Tara Reed-Cooper, who has been the primary advocate for opening the schools for months, pushed for this move. The decision was made three weeks after CCS reopened to students under hybrid ‘Plan B’.
“I believe that our numbers are low right now. They could go up, but you can walk into Food Lion. People don’t have masks. You can walk into Wal-Mart. People don’t have masks. And there’s kids all over the place at either one of them. They’re all over the community. They’re at the beach. They’re in Tennessee. They’re playing sports, contact sports without masks. Even though it’s just been two weeks, for me, we’ve got kids that are still virtual that really need that assistance,” said Big Y School Board Rep. Reed-Cooper
The final move took some time to develop, as not everyone was initially convinced.
“That’s my opinion. Be still, not change anything, and just see what happens. I know that other people may be upset, and I understand. But for me, it’s too confusing in my brain for me to make one decision versus another. And right now, everything’s stable,” said Chairperson Jennifer Thompson in her opening statements on the situation.
Big Cove Rep. Karen French-Browning, who has been heavily pushing safety since the beginning of the pandemic, pleaded with the Board not to open directly after Spring Break. That break for CCS is set for April 12-16.
“I understand what Tara’s saying. But I also know that what we got right now is working. We know it’s working. We haven’t even been in school with Plan B for two weeks … well three weeks,” said Rep. French-Browning.
“You would have that week after Spring Break to know if the numbers came up or not. If you waited till the 26th of April, you would have five weeks face-to-face before school’s out. That would also give Dr. Murray and the staff time to be ready. They’re gonna have three days if you say come back after Spring Break.”
Rep. French-Browning made the formal move to go to Plan A the week after returning from Spring Break, and that move was seconded by Birdtown Rep. Gloria Griffin. Painttown Rep. Regina Ledford Rosario was the lone vote against the motion. She stated that she would not vote on any full return, and said she wished to leave Plan A until next semester.
This move with additional cautions is what eventually prevailed, leaving the final month of CCS’s school year to be open to all students.
There is an additional measure. If any parent that wishes to keep their student home virtually, then they may continue to do so. Any student that previously chose to stay remote may also have the option to return to school.
In this meeting, the Board also finalized the 2021-22 school year budget proposal. Ashford Smith from the Cherokee Boys Club announced that the proposed budget is up about 9 percent from last year to $36.9 million. He described how the previous budget was very slimmed down, and many of the cuts caused by the pandemic are back for this next year. Many of those cuts were employment vacancies.
The increase also allows for a 2.5% raise for teachers’ assistants and a 5 percent raise for non-instructional support staff. This is paired with the 5 percent increase for teachers.
The consent agenda was also approved, setting forth the following:
- Policy 7050 Internal Transfer be added into the CCS Personnel Policy Manual
- Sebastien Brun approved as a varsity girls assistant coach.
- Ahli-Sha Stephens is approved as the varsity softball assistant coach.
A walk-in resolution passed allowingFrancis Panther Oocumma to be approved for the position of accounts payable travel processor for the CCS Finance Department.
The Monday, April 5 meeting of the 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; Superintendent Michael Murray; Vice Superintendent Beverly Payne; HR Director Heather Driver; School Board Assistant Sunnie Clapsaddle; and Wolftown Tribal Council Representative Chelsea Saunooke all in attendance.
The next meeting of the CCS Board of Education will be held Monday, April 19 at the 4:45 p.m. at the Chief Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center.