A controversy surrounding Craven County Board of Education members having access to the school system’s principals’ meetings has seemingly been settled.
During their April 13 work session, the Board reached a consensus that going forward, the current principal of the year will update the board monthly with information from those meetings.
The issue was raised last month by BOE member Kelli Muse.
More:Muse cites leadership failure in Craven County Schools transparency, staff vacancy complaints
In a March 25 Facebook post, Muse made public a series of texts between herself and Superintendent Meghan Doyle. In her texts to Doyle, Muse asked why the Board members do not have access to all district meetings, such as principals’ meetings.
Muse, who currently works with Onslow County Schools, said she sent the texts after discovering she did not have access to the Zoom link for a recent principals’ meeting.
Doyle responded that the decision was one for the full board to consider and that she would bring the issue to the board’s chair and vice-chair for discussion for the April 13 meeting agenda.
“You are welcome at principals’ meetings, you are welcome at cabinet meetings, we want you to be there. We want to start having them more in-person but we’ll get the links out there and make sure all that’s accessible,” Doyle told Board members during Tuesday’s meeting.
When asked why the subject was brought before the board, Muse, who formerly worked for Craven County Schools, said she was concerned that Board members no longer attend principals’ meetings.
“And I know that when I worked here in the district, when Cabinet would have a meeting we would receive minutes on kind of what they were looking at,” said Muse. “Principals don’t present to us anymore or any of that kind of stuff, so everything seems very…regulated.”
Board member Frances Boomer said during her 15 years on the BOE she had attended approximately three principals’ meetings.
“It’s always been open, any Board member can attend principals’ meetings. I don’t think we have been told we cannot go, I just choose not to come,” said Boomer.
BOE Attorney Brian Gatchel pointed out that individual Board members have “very, very little statutory authority or power” should they choose to attend other district meetings on their own.
“Your authority comes as a board. As a group you are entrusted with the general administration of the school system…There’s very, very little that you can individually have authority to do,” said Gatchel
“If you are invited to a meeting or there’s an implicit invitation there’s no issue with that,” he added. “But I just want to be clear that your own policies are very clear and the statutes are very clear, that your authority presently flows when you’re in a meeting.”
Another issue raised by Muse, the number of school system vacancies, was also addressed at the April 13 meeting. Muse has blamed the number of vacancies, which currently stands at 134, in large part on Doyle’s leadership style.
Doyle admitted teacher turnover remains a challenge, while pointing to the recruiting problems posed by COVID-19 and a lack of housing resulting from Hurricane Florence.
According to Doyle, the CCS turnover rate has gone from 11.77 % in 2011-12 to 17.3% in 2019-20. Since 2011-12 the county’s turnover rate has been consistently higher than both the state and SE Region’s, which were both at approximately 12 percent for 2019-20.
To help aid retention and recruitment, Doyle said CCS has increased teacher supplements from 9% for all classroom teachers to 10% for all instructional staff, which is currently one of the 10 highest supplements in the state.
“We need to do a better job of advertising that as a point of recruiting teachers to this area. One of the challenges that we have right now is housing for our potential employees, not just our teacher but all staff,” said Doyle.
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