School board creates 2 positions despite opposition, split votes

Sarah Willets Staff Writer

December 10, 2013

LUMBERTON — The Public Schools of Robeson County’s Board of Education voted to create two executive director positions at a meeting on Tuesday night, doing so in split votes.

The board approved a motion to advertise for executive directors of Curriculum and Instructions as well as Support Programs/ Title 1 although three members, Dwayne Smith, Steve Martin and Severeo Kerns, voted against the Curriculum and Instructions position and Bosco Locklear joined the three in opposing the Title 1 position.

Both positions would come with two-year contracts. Kerns expressed concern that the first position would extend beyond that time period, making the system’s central office “top heavy like a fattening hog.”

“I believe in operating lean and mean. We’re beginning to be like a helium balloon; we’re getting blown up too much at the central office,” he said. “I think this is going to be a permanent position. I think it’s going to be here 30 years from now … once you create something, it’s hard to un-create it.”

Following the meeting, Kerns sent an email to The Robesonian that provided more detail to his objection.

“This is a $100,000-plus position with salary and benefits — money coming from Title I that could be used for things closer to educating our students,” he wrote.

Superintendent Johnny Hunt and Loistine DeFreece, the board’s chairperson, reassured board members that the positions were temporary and would be reviewed when the contracts end.

The position have been vacant in recent years, but are being reintroduced because of an increased need for support in those areas, according to DeFreece.

The executive director of Curriculum and Instructions would assist Linda Emanuel, the assistant superintendent in that area, and help that department transition when she retires.

The board also approved technology plans for the 2014-2015 academic year.

According to Everette Teal, director of Technology, the plans include expanding schools’ wireless capabilities to make classroom technology as mobile as possible and increasing distance-learning options.

Distance learning enables students to attend class via video, Teal said.

The Public Schools of Robeson County received a $2.6 million from the federal government to cover technology costs, including Internet, phone service and their websites, for the current academic year and the 2014-15 year, according to Teal.

In other business, Hunt and DeFreece honored 18 students of all ages with certificates of Performance Excellence for their participation in this year’s Christmas card design contest. The cards, which students created in class, will be on display throughout December at Biggs Park Mall as part of the Public Schools of Robeson County Holiday Exposition.

Sandi Carter, Arts Education supervisor, said the board used to recognize just one or two student artists.

“There have gotten to be so many wonderful artists we’ve just had to grow and grow,” she said.

The meeting began with a performance by Stephen Love, musical director at Fairmont High School, who sang two Christmas songs.

In other business, the board:

— Recognized board member Mike Smith for his appointment to the All-State School Board last month. The board is made up of eight peer-nominated board members throughout the state.

— Named Patricia Ann Hunt the Bus Driver of the Month. Hunt, who drives for Fairgrove Middle School, has never had an accident in her 33 years on the job, according to Assistant Superintendent Stephen Gaskins.

— Named Denise Cartrette the Certified Employee of the Month. Cartrette teaches as Rosenwald Elementary in Fairmont.

— Named Sharon Ray the Classified Teacher of the Month. Ray teaches at Peterson Elementary in Red Springs.