By JONAH LOSSIAH
One Feather Staff
Cherokee Central Schools (CCS) will be returning to full numbers starting Monday, Aug. 9.
In the CCS Board of Education meeting on Thursday, July 15, Superintendent Michael Murray stated that all three schools on campus would be offering full capacity learning on a normal school schedule for the upcoming semester.
CCS opted for safety throughout the first year (2020) of the COVID-19 pandemic, and remained in remote learning until March 15, just over a full year. The school transitioned from Plan B to Plan A, full attendance, for the final month of the semester.
“I want to make it clear…Cherokee Centrals Schools is opening this Fall with face-to-face. Right now, the only limitations being facemasks and social distancing. All other measures have been relaxed,” said Superintendent Murray.
Some anxiety was sparked from a survey that was distributed by the CCS administration, polling families about their interest in remote learning for the upcoming school year. Murray insists that this was a move to cover the school’s bases and remain competitive in the region.
“I think it was misread out in the community, and that’s why you got the calls. So, I will take full blame for that. But, I want to clear it up today. The survey was done because we are wanting to know the feasibility of offering, not making it our driving force but offering, a virtual classroom-type option,” said Murray.
“I had talked to several of you about this because I didn’t want you to think I was doing this on my own. I had mentioned earlier that we needed to be competitive…I don’t know of any system that’s not planning to offer some type of it. In order to at least look at that, I needed to get some data.”
It was agreed that offering a remote option would be beneficial for some specific cases and families, as long as the students who signed up were properly vetted. Board member Gloria Griffin said that it would be wise to check the test scores and grades of any student looking to do remote, pointing out that there were many students that suffered greatly by being in a virtual learning setting.
Board Secretary Tara Reed-Cooper had also brought a question forward regarding a vaccination event. Murray said this is something that his team was already working on, and he was hoping to get the ball rolling on such an event in the upcoming week. He said that Yona Wade, CCS director of community affairs, would be leading that push and working with EBCI Department of Public Health and Human Services.
A little over 20 minutes into the meeting, the School Board moved into a closed session to discuss personnel issues.
Coming out of the closed session, the Board went over the contract between CCS and the Cherokee Boys Club (CBC). Over the last few years, the Board has been renewing the CBC contract on a year-by-year basis. Several members of the Board said that this was because of an unease with the partnership in previous years. With those issues primarily remedied, this most recent contract will stand for three years. Gloria Griffin pointed to the work of Ashford Smith, CBC interim finance director, as a key figure for building the trust between the organizations.
Reed-Cooper abstained from the vote because she also serves on the CBC Board. The vote was otherwise unanimously in favor.
The consent agenda saw 12 of its 13 resolutions passed, marking the first resolutions passed for the school year 2021-22. All of these were personnel hires or adjustments. The one resolution pulled was 22-008, James Gregory to be approved as a full-time custodian at CCS. This item was discussed in closed before also being unanimously passed.
The Board said they had gotten questions about a CCS supply list for the upcoming semester, and Superintendent Murray clarified that there would not be a list distributed. He said that the school had the funds, thanks to COVID relief payments, and that not requiring a supply list was a way to alleviate stress from families.
Future guests were also discussed, with Board members requesting invitations be sent to the Cherokee Indian Museum and Tribal Alcohol Law Enforcement to attend meetings in the near future. They hoped that both could offer educational programs to their students and want to see what opportunities could be organized for the upcoming school year.
Before adjourning, the Board moved their next meeting from Monday, July 19 to Monday, July 26. This was to accommodate the schedules of everyone involved in the meeting. The Board still plans to meet Monday, Aug. 2, which will be the last meeting before school begins.
The Board was meeting on Thursday because members felt that the agenda needed more discussion on the agenda that was distributed via email poll on Monday, July 12.
The Thursday, July 15 meeting of the CCS Board of Education was called to order at 4:45 p.m. with Chairperson Jennifer Thompson; Secretary Tara Reed-Cooper; Board members Karen French-Browning, Regina Ledford Rosario, and Gloria Griffin; Superintendent Dr. Michael Murray; and School Board Assistant Terri Bradley all in attendance. Vice Chair Isaac Long, HR Director Heather Driver, and Wolftown Tribal Council Representative Chelsea Saunooke were a few minutes late to the meeting. Asst. Superintendent Dr. Beverly Payne was absent to the meeting.
The next meeting of the School Board will take place on Monday, July 26 at 4:45 p.m. Meetings are once again being held in the conference room in the CCS Administrative building.