By JONAH LOSSIAH
One Feather Staff
After discussing a report on Cherokee Central Schools’ (CCS) remote learning, the Board of Education voted to strike it as a learning option following Christmas break.
Superintendent Michael Murray gathered the remote learning numbers at the request of the School Board following their last meeting. The report offered a breakdown for each of the three schools by students who are in remote and virtual learning. Virtual learning signifies that the student enrolled in an online academy through the supervision of CCS. The following numbers were pulled:
High School – 38 remote students, 21 of which are failing. Two virtual students, one of which is failing.
Middle School – 38 remote students, 27 of which are failing. Only one virtual student, they are passing.
Elementary School – 29 remote students, 5 of which are failing. 10 virtual students, 6 of which are failing.
In a letter to the Board, Murray expressed his concerns about the work produced by the remote students at the high school:
“They are not picking up their materials, so the social worker is delivering many of the packs. Then we are not getting anything back. Our social worker is on top of things, and she has made every effort to reach every family. This is on top of teachers attempting to make contacts.”
Superintendent Murray said that the decision was up to the Board, but that he strongly encouraged removing remote learning as an option after the Christmas break.
Co-Vice Chair Tara Reed-Cooper questioned why the Board shouldn’t make this move as soon as possible, pointing to the idea that these students were losing ground in the classroom every day.
Murray and Chairperson Jennifer Thompson shared their sentiment, stating that they understand the basis of Reed-Cooper’s thoughts but that it would be extremely difficult to do with such short notice. Murray said that November and December are already shortened with holidays and that allowing teachers the time to prep for an influx of students would make the transition much smoother for the school.
The School Board voted unanimously to remove the remote learning option for CCS starting in January. Those students must attend class in-person if they are to remain at the school.
The first guest to the meeting was Trish Tramper, who was there on behalf of her son to request a donation. They have been selected to attend the National Youth Leadership Summit for the summer of 2022, but the family cannot afford the cost required to attend. Tramper said that they had already received a donation from the American Legion Auxiliary for $200.
The School Board voted to offer Tramper a one-time $250 dollar donation from the Board. They also provided some information of how to request funds from executive and the Tribal Council.
The next guest was Laura Pinnix, who gave an update on her program and sought approval for the upcoming events of the school’s pow-wow and Christmas bazaar. Pinnix brought in Cherokee High School student Cadence Smith to discuss all of the activities involved with the pow-wow.
To maintain safety, the Board and Pinnix decided it would be best to separate the pow-wow into two separate events for the different age groups. Pinnix also said they would be unable to serve food due to COVID protocols.
The Board approved the events but agreed that they would continue to monitor community COVID numbers leading up to the dates that they were held.
A finance report was delivered by CCS finance director Howard Wahnetah and Cherokee Boys Club finance director Ashford Smith. They said that the numbers are currently where they’re supposed to be for this point in the fiscal year.
Smith said one change would be that health care costs are increasing 12.6 percent for CCS, with employees having a 2 percent cost increase. He said that increase will occur on Jan. 1, 2022. The budget accounted for just a 10 percent increase, but that was for the full fiscal year. Smith said this would not be a problem for this year as long as they accounted for the increase next fall.
The Board then moved to the consent agenda, which they passed unanimously. This approved the following positions:
- James Wolfe Jr. – Independent contractor Cherokee High School Arts and Crafts Instructor.
- Mary Bernice Bottchenbaugh – Independent contractor Cherokee High School Arts and Crafts Instructor.
- Pamela Bryant – JV Girls basketball head coach
There were also three walk-in resolutions. Taylor Brooks was approved as the varsity indoor track head coach and Raeline McMillan as a teacher assistant for Cherokee Elementary School. There was a split vote on the one of these walk-ins, and that led to a discussion in closed session. No decision was made on Nov. 1, and the resolution has been tabled until the Nov. 15 meeting of the Board.
The Monday, Nov. 1 meeting of the CCS Board of Education was called to order at 4:45 p.m. with Chairperson Jennifer Thompson; Co-Vice Chairs Tara Reed-Cooper and Melanie Lambert; Secretary Kristina Hyatt; Board members Regina Ledford Rosario and Berdie Toineeta; Tribal Council Rep. Bo Crowe; Superintendent Michael Murray; Assistant Superintendent Beverly Payne; HR Director Heather Driver; and Administrative Assistant Terri Bradley all in attendance.
The next meeting of the School Board is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 15 at 4:45 p.m. Meetings are being held in the conference of the new administrative building on the CCS campus. These sessions are considered public meetings and are open to public attendance except for closed sessions.