Beaufort County NC School Board meeting – Work Session | Eastern North Carolina Now


The Beaufort County NC school board held its work session for the month of February 2023 on Feb. 7.

Disclaimer Statement

The contents of this post reflect most of what occurred during this session. Please note that it may not be 100% correct or complete. The reason for this ambiguity is relative to having no audio system in the meeting room allowing all participates, board members, and the public in attendance to hear what everyone said during the meeting. If anyone has corrections or additions, please let me know. I have been informed that a sound system with microphones should be in place soon. The first time I was told this was December 2021, 14 months ago. I understand supply chain issues have delayed the installation. A board member reported that this has been resolved and the audio sound system is scheduled to be installed on or by February 21, 2023.

There may be some opinions expressed here that are just observations deduced from the observed limited discussions as it is obvious to anyone that has attended the school board meetings for two years that there are some items where all pertinent information is not disclosed and very little inquiry is expressed by board members. I see this changing with the replacement of three long-term school board members at the 2022 general election.

I will skip over the first three agenda items of 1) Open Session, 2) Approval of Agenda, and 3) Approval of Minutes. I should note that approval of minutes is for previous meetings. However, the publishing of the previous minutes are attached to the meeting agenda in which they were approved, not the meeting dated where they were recorded. (Humm…? More confusion?)

Agenda 4.0 Discussion (No Action)

Agenda 4.1

2023-2024 Budget Preparation Timeline

School board members questioned when they would see the proposed budget? Dr. Cheeseman reported on the presentation to the Board of County Commissioners of February 26, 2023. He went on to report there are three dates in the budgeting process for the school board: 1) February 10, Input from school principals, 2) February 27, Input from administration officials, and 3) March 21, 2023, Report to the board and receive comments. There was some indication there would be discussions of budget items at board meeting prior to May 15, 2023.

Agenda 4.2

State-Funded Certified Employee Supplement – Superintendent Dr. Cheeseman and Assistant Superintendent Mark Doane

This is a supplement provided by the NC General Assembly for all eligible employees. The total amount provided is $1,325,757 providing supplements of $2030.80 before taxes to each recipient for the 23-24 school year. (~677 employees) This supplement will be paid in June in a lump sum payment.

Agenda 4.3

Social Studies Curriculum Adoption Update – Chief Academic Officer Dr. Norris Parker

Board member, Donald Shreve asks Dr. Parker if students would be allowed to challenge historical events presented in the new SAVVAS social studies curriculum. Dr. Parker’s answer was we will have to review later or something to that effect.

Donald Shreve asked if there were parents involved in the review of the SAVVAS curriculum. Dr. Parker responded he would have to follow up with the team that recommended the curriculum. Dr. Cheeseman reported there were 86 school and administrative members, including ten Expert Teachers and 24 middle and high school social studies teachers, which reviewed the approved curriculum providers on the NC State’s DPI approved list of providers. Dr. Cheeseman emphasized the reviewers are all education professionals and are well qualified to assess and select an appropriate social studies curriculum for Beaufort County students. The selection process was a 12-month exercise where many providers were reviewed and this team selected SAVVAS for grades 6-12 social studies.

Donald Shreve commented on a statement made by the selection team that SAVVAS was the only curriculum approved by the state DPI. This has been determined not to be true. There are more than eight approved by the state.

Dr. Cheeseman reported that parents would have an opportunity to review the social studies curriculum prior to approval. I may have misunderstood this comment. The board is scheduled to approve or reject SAVVAS at the February 21, 2023 board meeting.

Donald Shreve reported there have been several comments related to this curriculum and many asked about the inclusion of principles of Critical Race Theory in the SAVVAS proposal. The selection team of professional educators emphasized there is no CRT in the material when they presented it earlier in February.

Board member, Charles Hickman III, commented on the board members of SAVVAS have been involved in writing a number of books, one of which is entitled “Critical Race Theoryin Education” written by Gloria Landson-Billings.

 (Dr. Parker and Dr. Cheeseman were visually agitated by the push back on the proposed SAVVAS proposal.) Dr. Cheeseman reported that by a vote of 7-5 of the state school board the SAVVAS curriculum was approved and there will always be some objections to any curriculum.

Board member Carolyn Walker responded that the selection committee has a 55 page report (or 55 people working on a report – No audio system) that has been in mark-up for some time. (Not sure I heard this correctly) She also indicated the board may want to review the other three finalist not selected during the selection process. There were a 24 Powerpoint slides presented during the January 17, 2023 meeting extolling the virtues of the SAVVAS proposal.

Ms. Walker also reported that SAVVAS relies heavily on on-line instruction and the connection to their servers often locks up or freezes. This must be corrected before required testing is presented.

Donald Shreve asked how many schools in the Northeast district are using SAVVAS social studies curriculum. Dr. Parker reported there is a committee seeking this information.

Charles Hickman asked, what is the definition of “culturally responsive education?” Is this not just another term for CRT? Again, Dr. Parker responded that BCS has a policy that states CRT will not taught in the schools. (A review of this policy is not clear. It appears to say that the principles of CRT may be taught if it is included in DPI approved curriculums.) The excerpt from Policy 3100 reads:

the Beaufort County Schools System will not include social and other theories that are not included in textbooks or other materials approved by the State Board of Education.

Huh? Is this a double negative in one sentence? A literal reading of this statement appears to indicate if Critical Race Theory, Social Emotional Learning, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion principles are in an approved standard of the NC Department of Public Instruction, it may or will be taught in the classroom.

Terry Williams asked about the cost of the SAVVAS proposed curriculum. Dr. Parker reported the estimate is $300,000 - $450,000. (Yet the school board cannot afford to hire a Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning engineer to oversee the schools complex HVAC systems?)

5.0 Discussion (Action)

Agenda 5.1

BCS 2023-2024 Traditional and Early High School Calendar

Calendar was approved

Agenda 5.2

Capital Project Approval

Maintenance Director Jamie Stokes’ back was to the audience and I missed several comments. From the questions asked by board members Carolyn Walker and Terry Williams, it was evident they were discussing five capital projects that were combined and allotted to one contractor. All of these projects involved concrete walk ways or driving surfaces. They questioned the qualification of the landscaping contractor to perform concrete work. They also questioned the wide variance of the four bids. Did all the bidders have a complete scope of the tasks? Carolyn Walker reminded the maintenance director that low bids do not have to be accepted if the contractor lacks experience. (A review of the RFP documents revealed that the specifications for the quality of concrete is not specified nor is the reinforcement wire specified for the largest quantity of six inch thick concrete slab – approximately 62 yards of concrete. Carolyn Walker was correct in asking questions about qualifications of the bidders to perform this work as there were no qualifications asked for in the RFP or included in the responsive bids.)

This project was approved.

Agenda 5.3

Washington High School Auditorium Sound Upgrade

Two bids were received for this job. One from Eastern Theatrical in Greenville, NC and one from PC Sound from Washington, NC.

There was some discussion on why Eastern Theatrical was selected with a bid of $109,254 whereas the PC Sound bid was $88,144. Andrea Lilley, Chief Technology Officer, reported there is more equipment included in the Eastern Theatrical bid than the PC Sound bid. Both suppliers listed optional enhancements to their base bid with Eastern Theatrical having the lower of the two bids in the final analysis. (Eastern Theatrical- $109,254.71 and PC Sound - $115,343.38)

Terry Williams asked how this project got on the capital list as it was not on the list of capital projects earlier in the budget process. Someone on the board or Dr. Cheeseman reported this was added and will be paid for from the contingency funds.

This project was approved.

Agenda 5.4

Field Trip Approval – Dr. Cheeseman

Two field trips were approved for Southside High School

One trip to Greenville, (NC or SC?) and one to Baltimore, Maryland were approved. I could not hear what these were for?

6.0 –Closed Session for Personnel Discussions

Next Meeting

The next school board meeting is February 21, 2023.

Ray Leary


Curriculum/Education Committee

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( February 11th, 2023 @ 11:08 am )
When they are pushing this leftwing SAVVAS propaganda maybe they ought to call it a WOKE session instead of a work session. The education bureaucracy and the education industry are clearly tone deaf to the concerns of parents on political indoctrination of children. SAVVAS would have fit right in with political indoctrination of children in the old Soviet Union.

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