School Board addresses recruiting, retention and repairs

RAEFORD – The Hoke County Schools Board of Education met Tuesday, Feb. 13, addressing the February 2024 vacancy report as a top priority.

It showed 50 certified teacher vacancies, 14 certified staff vacancies and 35 classified employee vacancies.

“One of our biggest areas that we see that we are struggling to actually find teachers for is our [Exceptional Children],” said executive director of career and technical education Dana Chavis. “That’s just hard across the state and not just with Hoke County. As we begin to start our recruiting, that is one of the areas that we’re trying to hit the hardest so that we can try to get those positions filled so that our students will have the right teachers in place so they can get the education that they deserve.

Hoke Schools began recruiting at several different universities earlier this month. “We changed our strategy this year. Typically, what we do is actually get the resumes and bring them back to the principals,” Chavis explained. This year, “if we see somebody that could fill a role and be a best fit, we call the principal right there, hand them the phone and they’re talking to that individual on the spot.”

In other business, Hoke County Schools will be conducting a capital outlay survey this month in order to create a ranked list of necessary repair and safety projects.

“Capital Outlay surveys have been sent out to principals and directors,” said Interim Finance Officer Willena Richardson. “We’re asking that they be returned to us by February 23. After we get those back, then the superintendent, operations and maintenance will get together and decide which capital outlay projects take precedence. We’ll try to get as many in as we can, but of course, safety is going to come first.”

The survey is meant to ensure that every building in the Hoke school system is considered.

The board also approved the use of capital outlay funds to repair roof damage at Hoke High School.

Repairing the damage, caused by a June hail storm, will also see the roof treated with a silicone roof coating restoration system. While the damage is covered by the district’s insurance, there is a $5,000 deductible that will be paid. The total quote for the roof repair is $426,852 and will be performed by ACI Systems, Inc.

Finally, the salary scale for school treasurers was updated, adding $26,298.11 per year including benefits.

“By fiscal year 2025, all of our salary scales have to be updated and we have to be very cautious about doing that because we’re unsure if the state is going to allot more money to change the salary scales,” Richardson explained. “We’re looking at the salaries because we believe that if someone starts today, they should not be making the same amount as someone who’s been here 20 years, so we had to look at our salaries.”

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