ELIZABETHTOWN — “I know that what I have to say is not going to be popular.” That was the way Bladen County Schools’ Child Nutrition Director Amy Stanley began the action portion of Monday night’s Board of Education meeting, and her prognostication turned out to be correct.
Stanley came before the board to recommend that some nutrition employees’ time be cut from 215 days to 205 days, and board members immediately reacted.
“We would be cutting people already at the low end of the salary range,” stated Board Chairman Wilbur Smith.
“It’s not been long since we hired a trainer because we were in good financial shape, and feedback on that position has not been good,” he added, referring to a recently hired employee whose responsibility it is to train nutrition workers at each school.
Stanley, however, defended the position.
“The trainer keeps us in compliance with the USDA regulations,” she said. “She is telling (the workers) what the USDA and DPI are telling her to tell them.”
“We need to look at the top and work our way down,” suggested Board Member Roger Carroll.
Stanley informed the board that the 10 days that would be cut are days for which the department does not receive revenue anyway because they are not instructional days.
Board members returned to the issue of the training position, inquiring about its responsibilities and how compliance was maintained before the creation of the job.
“DPI said that to sustain compliance, we need the position,” informed Stanley. She added that the department was written up numerous times before the training job took effect and that the USDA is constantly changing the regulations, requiring someone to keep up with compliance. In addition, many of the surrounding counties only pay for 180 days, so Bladen County would still be above average, she said.
Board member Ophelia Munn-Goins inquired what the managers are for if they are not the ones keeping the departments in compliance.
“Are you saying they are not qualified to do that?” she asked pointedly.
Stanley responded that she was not saying that, only that she could not feasibly send 13 managers for training.
After much back and forth, Smith asked directly what the board wanted to know. “Is the position mandated?” he asked, stressing the word mandated. Stanley relented that it was recommended but not mandated.
It was deemed that the department is not in immediate crisis, so the board decided to table the issue in order to gather more information.
In other business, the board:
— Watched a skit about bullying presented by students from Elizabethtown Primary School. In it, all the colors are being bullied by one color until one stands up to the bully. Supt. Robert Taylor commented about the need for awareness at the schools.
— Approved the CTE Executive Summary for 2016/2017. Both Smith and Taylor commended Willa Williams for “tremendous progress” made by her department and the thoroughness of the plan.
— Approved a proposed budget for the 2016-17 school year. Finance Officer Sharon Penny informed the board that they were not passing the budget, only approving it to be submitted to the county commissioners so that the latter could make decisions about their own budget and how they will finance the school system.
— Approved the 2016-19 AIG plan. A change will be made in the qualifications for the program. The IQ requirement will fall from the 92nd percentile to the 90th, the achievement requirement will go from the 92nd percentile to the 90th, and the grade qualification will change from 93 to 90.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.