Board sticks with calendar, school starts Aug. 25

After the possibility of some calendar changes, Catawba County Schools students will still start school Aug. 25.

Superintendent Glenn Barger encouraged the Board of Education during its Monday meeting to stick with the previously adopted calendar for the 2011-12 school year.

"The General Assembly has not passed the bill that was introduced," said Barger, adding the bill will allow school systems flexibility in their start and end dates. "The bill was delayed because of other things (available for the legislature's consideration)."

It is unknown whether a bill will pass the General Assembly before school starts, but officials will stick with the previously adopted calendar. Barger said there are many employees and parents who have held off making summer plans because they were unsure of a definite start date for the upcoming school year.

School will start Aug. 25 and will end June 8, 2012.

In other business
— The Board of Education unanimously approved a three-year contract to continue clinical affiliations with the Lutheran Home in Hickory.

— Sweetwater Early Head Start is ready to get construction renovations under way.

Sweetwater Director Gail Henson said the school's renovations will create a welcoming atmosphere for parents, visitors and students; establish a secure office area; and add more parking spaces while resurfacing the parking lot.

Henson said the project's cost, which was funded by a federal grant, will not exceed $175,000.

Steve Demiter, CCS assistant superintendent of operations, said the project does not require a formal bidding procedure because the project's total cost is not high enough to be required to start a bidding process. Demiter said five companies were selected from previous projects and an informal bidding process will take place within those businesses. The informal bidding process will allow the board to approve wining bid at its April meeting.

The board unanimously approved to allow the project to move forward with the informal bidding process and design plans. The project is expected to be finished by Aug. 30.

— The board unanimously approved for the entire school system to be on a four-day work week for the summer months — June 20 through Aug. 12.

Barger said each school and the central office will operate on four 10-hour days Monday through Thursday. By changing the schedule, Barger said each building will be without air conditioning and other power uses for three consecutive days. He expects this will save the school system money.

The only exception to the Monday through Thursday schedule is the Fourth of July holiday. Barger said the school system will be closed July 6-7. Staff will work July 8-10 for 10 hours each day.

— Arndt Middle School will receive new lockers along with construction taking place at the school.

During Monday's meeting, the board unanimously approved purchase of 306 athletic and coaches lockers for the boys' and girls' locker rooms in the gym and 704 student lockers, along with 13 maple benches for sitting in the locker rooms. The total price for the lockers is $82,894 and the winning bidder was McDonald Enterprises.

The lockers are expected to be delivered June 13 and installed no later than June 27.

— A member of the NAACP Catawba County branch spoke during the public comments session about school opening on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In a letter signed by the branch president Jerry L. McCombs, the organization requested that in the event MLK Day has to serve as another snow make-up day that the board consider making the day up on Easter Monday or a teacher workday.

In a phone interview Tuesday with The O-N-E, McCombs said MLK Day was considered an excused absence, according to Barger. However, McCombs said when students tried to leave school on the holiday to attend the MLK march, they were told the absence was unexcused.

McCombs said the misunderstanding at the schools was partly because the information didn't reach secretaries in time to allow students to leave. The NAACP's letter was a suggestion to the board to use for future decisions. McCombs added he is satisfied with the relationship between the NAACP and CCS.

Because the NAACP representative spoke during a public comments section, board members are not expected to reply.

Catawba County Schools Board of Education will meet at 5:30 p.m. April 25 at the Annex Building. All meetings are open to the public.