Board of Education approves Capital Outlay budget amendment intended to address safety concerns

HCS to increase convocation check amount for employees

RAEFORD – The Hoke County Schools Board of Education met Tuesday, August 22, for its monthly work session.  

The first item the board took on was the approval of a contract for a bilingual psychologist.   

Maria Cain will be hired by HCS on a part-time basis at a rate of $90 per hour for any attorney-involved case that requires her to be present, $500 per cognitive or educational evaluation report, $600 per educational and cognitive evaluation report and $700 per comprehensive evaluation report, to include consultations, conferences and meetings on an as-needed basis with the total contract not to exceed $155,000 per year.  

“Our previous school psychologist contract, her pay was at $755 per contract and $170,000 a year,” said Exceptional Children Director Cariss McLeod. “She was full time, but we didn’t get much production.”  

According to McLeod, Cain is expected to do around 15 cases per month and be available on an as-needed basis.  

“What we’re building is a school psychology team,” McLeod said. “The goal is to be 90% compliant by December 1. You can’t do it if you don’t have the staff. So that’s what this is about. We have two full-time school psychologists, and Maria Cain will also come in as our part-time bilingual school psychologist.  

“The way it’s organized, our school psychologist that just started with us that we got from Moore County will be serving Pre-K through third grade doing all those psychological evaluations, and Maria Cain and another psychologist we’re adding are going to come in to serve all of our secondary.”  

Also, according to McLeod, the only outstanding EC position and service needing to be filled for HCS is a physical therapy assistant.  

“I’m emotional about where we are because it’s great,” McLeod said. “It’s extremely, extremely great. Every time we get a call that there’s somebody saying, ‘I want to come to Hoke County,’ we should be proud. We should be proud of the direction that we are going.”  

The board also approved an increase in the district’s annual convocation check.  

“This started many years ago, and it’s really a way to say thank you to all the employees of Hoke County that first week that they’re driving back and forth from home,” said Interim Superintendent Rodney Shotwell. “Just a little something to help with gas. It’s been $50 since the inception, and there was a request to try and pump it up a little bit to $60 per person.”  

The total economic impact will be an approximate increase of $13,000 in expenses, which according to Shotwell, will come from local funds.  

The board also approved the 2023-24 Capital Outlay Project budget amendment in order to reallocate funding. Initially, the superintendent brought the budget amendment before the Hoke County Commissioners earlier in the month, but the item was denied as the board of education had not been first briefed on it.  

“When we had the opportunity to go back and reassess some safety issues that are across the district, we noticed that there were some issues that really needed to be addressed, and this is what we came up with the funding for those,” said Assistant Superintendent of Operations and Information Systems Chad Hunt.  

According to Hunt, approximately $269,000 will be reallocated towards safety and maintenance issues throughout the district.   

Board member Rosa McAllister-McRae brought up a question of why these amendments were not included in the budget initially, but Shotwell offered an explanation.    

“Those projects were estimates,” Shotwell said. “What has happened is that we’ve gotten hard numbers on projects, which freed up the $269,000 for us to do the next level of projects on here. To be honest with you, everywhere I’ve ever worked, it’s just been budget amendments with the Board of Education, and then you go and give quarterly updates with the Commissioners to let them know where you are on your capital projects, but that was not how I was told things are done around here. All of these things were also talked about in the original budget discussion in the spring.”  

Finally, the board approved the Site Package for the Hoke County High School project provided by Metcon.   

The Hoke County Schools Board of Education will next meet September 12.