The Scotland County Board of Education extended Superintendent Rick Stout’s contract for another year during its regular meeting this week.
“We as a board support you, and I think you know that we’ve been through a growing process since you’ve been here, but we all have been through a growing process,” said board chairman Charles Brown. “I’m glad that you’re here and we will continue to do the right thing for the boys and girls of Scotland County.”
Stout was hired in 2009, and his current contract was due to expire in 2015. It will now expire in 2016, an extension approved unanimously by the board. Darrel Gibson was not in attendance at the meeting.
Prior to Monday’s meeting, county resident Charles Parker took advantage of the public comment period to question the board regarding possible meetings with the county board of commissioners.
“Some four or five months ago, I came to a joint board meeting between the school board and the county commissioners,” Parker said. “The purpose of that meeting as I understand it was to talk about the school funding. At the end of the meeting it was made mention of that the county commissioners would like to get together with the school board to talk concerning the school funding policy known by so many people around here as the school floor.”
Brown said the two boards have not held discussions on the school funding formula.
“To my knowledge, there has been one meeting with Mr. Bob Davis and Mr. Kevin Patterson, and I attended that meeting, to discuss not necessarily the school floor, but perhaps the boards getting together for a quarterly meeting, that’s all that was discussed,” said Brown. “There’s been no other communication from the board about the school floor at all, so we have not received any requests in writing, nor phone conversations or calls.”
In other business, the board recognized Scotland Early College High School and its principal, Joe Critcher, for the school’s 100 percent graduation rate this year. Statewide, 27 schools achieved a 100 percent graduation rate, with an 80 percent average overall. In 2012, the inaugural SEarCH class graduated from the five-year program, many of them with an associate’s degree in addition to a high school diploma.
The board also nominated Terence Williams, Darwin Williams, Charles Brown, and Jimmy Bennett to represent Scotland County at the N.C. School Boards Association conference in November.
In other business, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Pam Baldwin reported on the school system was making good use of Race to the Top funding for the 2011-2012 school year.
Race to the Top is a three-year federal grant now in its second year, related to professional development and training staff in the new Essential Standards and Common Core curricula.
“We are right in line where we should be as far as expenditures go for the Race to the Top grant and we’re in a really good spot for training because we have a lot of leftover funds that we did not spend in 2012 that we’ll be able to utilize this school year,” Baldwin said.
In 2011-2012, Scotland County Schools spent about $247,000 in Race to the Top funds.
With the death of board member James Underwood last Thursday, the board announced that they will wait to seek a replacement until after November’s elections.
“We as a board have a meeting of the minds that we will try to wait until the election that is going to come up on November 6, because some of our board members are up for reelection and of course there are others that are running, so we are going to try to wait until that process is over,” Brown said.
In November, incumbent board members Terence Williams, Darwin Williams, and Jeff Byrd will run for their seats on the school board, opposed by retired school administrators Pat Gates and Rodney Hassler.
There is no deadline for the board to appoint a replacement for Underwood, and the only requirement is that the successor live outside of the Stewartsville Township, which includes most of the city of Laurinburg.
The last board seat to be unexpectedly vacated was that of Shep Jones in 2006, who was elected sheriff while still serving his term on the Board of Education.
“What they did at that time was they had open interviews,” said Andy Cagle, public information officer for the schools. “They had a board meeting where they interviewed people and that’s how Duke Williams got to be on the board.”