Tracy Brown

On Tuesday evening of last week, Roanoke City School Board swore in a new member to the board to begin a new term.

Tracy Brown had been appointed to fill the unexpired term of Lisa Reed. Roanoke City Council appointed Brown to serve a full five-year term at a recent meeting. Superintendent Chuck Marcum administered the oath of office to Brown and then congratulated him in a social distancing manner.

The board elected Lynn Langston to serve as the president of the board and Steve Burns as the vice president for the 2020-2021 school year.

Contract approval

The board approved for Marcum to enter into a contract with the architectural firm of McKee and Associates to draw up plans for planned renovations. According to the superintendent, the city school system will receive approximately $2 million from a bond issue approved by the state legislature this year.

"When the plans are developed, I will bring them back to you for your approval," Marcum said. "Here are a couple of ideas that I want you to think about. First, we really need new roofs at Knight-Enloe and the high school auditorium. We have new roofs at the high school and the middle school."

Marcum went on to say he would like to see a robotics lab at the middle school. He did not say when the plans would be complete.

Superintendent's report

Marcum said we are gradually seeing signs of "normalcy" returning to the school system. The central office and school offices are open, athletes are doing summer workouts and on that day they had dance line, color guard and drum major tryouts. Please note that social distancing and best practices are being observed to protect students and staff members.

During the 2020-21 school year, parents will be given a choice on whether their child will attend school facilities or receive virtual instruction at home. The system conducted a survey last week asking parents to indicate if they plan to send their child to school or keep them home for virtual instruction. There were 583 responses to the survey - 495 (85 percent) indicated they are sending their child back to school for on-site instruction. This week school officials are seeking to contact parents who did not complete the survey to get their response.

The past two weeks building principals and central office administrators have been working on three plans: 1) on-site instruction; 2) virtual instruction; and 3) blended - some on-site and some virtual. The school system is also developing a professional development plan in a way that will help them to be prepared for these three scenarios. Roanoke City Schools are committed to delivering high-level instruction no matter the format.

Marcum commended Handley High School for delivering a first-class graduation ceremony for the class of 2020, despite the many obstacles presented by COVID-19. This will mean even more to these graduates as the years go by, he said. Marcum admitted he never would have thought during April that the seniors would graduate on their set date of May 21. He thanked Adam Slay and ischoolsports for doing an excellent job of live streaming the graduation. This was important due to limiting graduates to only four guests due to social-distancing guidelines.

Marcum received several compliments about the eighth-grade drive-by Honors Night celebration that Principal Lynn Robinson and her staff provided for these students who are leaving HMS to go to HHS. During the last few weeks of school, grade levels across the system did special things for their students as they returned their Chromebooks. Marcum appreciates the staff going above and beyond for their students during these different times.

Another example of the outstanding work done by the staff during the school closure was that 40,618 meals were served between March 16 and May 21. Marcum thanked Child Nutrition Program director Regina Fulgham and everyone who worked to provide these meals to the students.

Personnel actions

In personnel business, the board:

  • Approved Freda Jorgensen as speech language pathologist for Roanoke City Schools, effective Aug. 6.
  • Approved Debbie Gortney as child nutrition worker at Knight-Enloe Elementary, effective Aug. 6.
  • Approved the transfer of Leslie Daniel from pre-K auxiliary aide at Knight-Enloe Elementary to first-grade teacher, effective Aug. 6.
  • Approved the transfer of Johannah Hand from child nutrition worker at Knight-Enloe Elementary to child nutrition worker at Handley Middle School effective Aug. 6.
  • Accepted the resignation of Kevin Smith from his position as physical education teacher at Handley Middle School as well as his coaching duties, effective June 15.
  • Approved to staff the Summer Kinder Camp Program at KES from July 13 to July 16. Six teachers and the counselor will be paid at 2.5 hours per day with certified staff at the rate of $22.50/hour funded through the Cares Act. The staff includes Jean Smith, Donna Nolan, Donna Owens, Sabrina Meinzer, Jessica Hendricks, Tiffany Potts and counselor Brent Meadows.
  • Approved to staff the Summer Reading Camp Program at KES from July 6 to July 24 with five teachers per day. Certified staff will be paid at the rate of $22.50/hour funded through the Cares Act (not to exceed five hours per day). The staff includes: Donna Owens, Michelle Bennett, Elizabeth Costley and Brittany Brown (splitting the time), Janna Wigley and Autumn Arnett (splitting the time) and Tina Glass and Susan Smith (splitting the time).
  • Approved non-certified staff to work for PD hours or $17.50/hour funded through the College Dream Team Grant (not to exceed five hours per day/three paras per day). The staff will include: Mignon Burton, Sherry Everett, Pam Williams, Stephanie Whaley and Asha Houston.
  • Approved a contract with Donya Beam to provide extended-year services to IDEA students. The fee will be $22.50 per hour payable by Roanoke City Board of Education on a monthly basis upon receipt and validation of time sheets. This service will begin on June 17 and end on July 31. The total amount of this contract will not exceed $700 and will come from IDEA-B funds.

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