Board of Education reduces frequency of board meetings

Interim Superintendent’s contract extended for additional month

RAEFORD — The Hoke County Schools Board of Education met Tuesday, September 12.

The board first approved the first readings of the new NCSBA policies to align with new requirements brought upon by state legislation.

“Senate Bill 49 passed in August, and it’s supposed to be enacted just a few days after it was passed,” said Interim Superintendent Rodney Shotwell. “It became law and effective for schools on August 16. The school board association, because they work with so many school districts and they work with the different attorney groups, they’ve been able to pull this legislation together to tie in our existing policies to make sure they match up with the changes that are required from the state legislation.”

The board also approved their chosen rate for their one-year legal contract with Poyner Spruill, which includes a flat rate of $2,000 per month that will cover one monthly meeting and up to four development workshops and $180 per hour for any additional services.

The board then approved the reduction in the frequency of their monthly meetings from two to one a month.

“I spoke with leadership, with the chair and vice-chair, and we talked about the amount of time that we’re spending meeting and, unfortunately, some of the last-minute changes that come up. Hoke County is not unique,” Shotwell said.

The approval wasn’t unanimous as board member Ruben Castellon was in favor of keeping the current two meetings a month schedule.

“I know we’ve gotten away from the original intent of the work session meetings, but we’ve also had a whole bunch of meetings,” Castellon said. “The old saying, ‘You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.’ So, the way I look at it is that we should truly hold the work session meeting to discuss so we can give repeats on everything, and then we approve whatever we need to from the work sessions at the monthly meetings. Ideally, we’ll be here for 30-45 minutes. If we don’t keep the work session meeting, then what’s going to happen is that we’re going to be here all night giving briefings. I know we all have to sacrifice, but we haven’t really kept up with the work session meeting, so I, for one, am a strong supporter of the work session meeting whether we can be here or not and that we should definitely have a monthly meeting.”

However, Castellon was alone in his thinking, as he was the only member who opposed the reduction of meetings.

“I know we have a lot of things that are coming up, but I believe that we should all be accountable to reading our emails and seeing what is coming up, and people can give us the information ahead of time so we can have an outlook on what is going to be on the agenda,” said Vice Chair Catherine Blue. “Once a month is what we really want because this is taking up a whole lot of time. I just feel like if we could get the emails and information in a timely manner for what’s going to be discussed, then we could look it over, and then we could have our minds made up when we come together.”

The board then approved an extension of the Interim Superintendent’s contract.

The initial extension was supposed to be for just one additional month, expiring on October 31, but the board added a conditional clause of the possibility of another additional week on top of it if the new superintendent so wishes, in order to allow for a smoother transition.

“With all fairness to the new superintendent coming in, I think Dr. Shotwell should be here at least a week or maybe two to have that good transition,” Castellon said. “We’re not talking about an Assistant Superintendent, we’re talking about ‘the’ Superintendent coming in. I really think that maybe with a note that if the new superintendent says that I don’t need you after the first day that we can break the contract, but I really would like to have the new superintendent the opportunity to have the wealth of knowledge that Dr. Shotwell has brought here.”

The Hoke County Schools Board of Education will next meet Oct. 10.