Bryan County Board of Education held a moment of quiet reflection Thursday, a day after three BCHS students died in a car crash.
At the beginning of the meeting, School Superintendent Dr. Sallie Brewer acknowledged the loss of Heather Arthur, Melissa Arthur and Laura Cobb, who were killed Wednesday in a car crash in Pembroke. The driver of the car, Tan Duc Le, remained in critical condition Friday afternoon.
"I can’t think of any greater tragedy than the death of a child," said Brewer, who has a child. "We lost three yesterday. In memory of Heather and Melissa Arthur and Laura Cobb, we need to say ‘I love you’ to our children more often than we do ... We never know when the last day we may have with our children may be."
Brewer also extended the BoE’s sympathy to the teens’ parents.
"Most of us are parents and we know there is no more difficult moment for a parent than the ones these families are going to," she said.
After reflection, the BoE approved the first reading of a proposed new school uniform policy for grades K-12 .
Board member Jeff Morton was quick to request clarification that this is not the final ruling on this to give the public time to react.
Brewer responded the measure is just the first of several steps that need to be taken to make the policy a reality, and this early step is simply to get the ball rolling and give parents plenty of notice in order to prepare for the new clothing requirements.
She added the measure was initially brought to the table as a result of a parent survey.
BoE Chairman Eddie Warren said the board anticipates and welcomes public comment on the proposed measure. Warren also mentioned the opposition a uniform policy received when it was originally brought before the board five years ago.
In a policy statement attached to the BoE agenda, school officials explained some of the advantages they believe the policy will bring, saying it will "provide a learning environment free of distractions, will assist in the identification of trespassers, will help create an atmosphere of equality by minimizing economic differences among students, will lower overall clothing costs, and will control the ‘fashion statement’ aspect of dress."
In other business:
- RHHS band booster president Craig Klebe presented to the board a list of the band’s accomplishment and needs. Klebe summarized that the band is achieving some very high goals and are a growing program and "this growth is resulting in some immediate and future needs."
Among those needs, Klebe included better communication with school officials and a higher band budget to allow for additional instruments, repair of instruments, an assistant director and a larger facility in which to practice.
- The following clubs were unanimously approved: a Step Club at BCHS, a Boosters Club for RHHS wrestling and a Music Club for RHMS.
- A bid from Pope Construction for $3.2 million was accepted for classroom additions to RHPS and CES.
- Richmond Hill Middle School students Elizabeth Crofts, Veronica Fay, Freddi Mehlhorn and April Ward were awarded plaques for making All-State Chorus.
- STAR award winning students Melody Swicegood (BCHS) and Alex Squires (RHHS), along with their chosen STAR teachers Joe Holloway (BCHS) and Karen Clarke (RHHS).
- LPS principal Dr. Patti Newman was awarded the Distinguished Principals award while LPS and BCES were recognized as being Title I Distinguished Schools. Dr. Brewer explained that the requirements of this entail that the school must have three years of recorded progress under the "no child left behind act."
- RHHS teacher Lisa Roberts was awarded System Special Education Teacher of the Year.
- RHMS parent Terry Jarrell requested that the system install running water into the portables at the school, saying that "without it, they are not operating in a safe environment."
She cited messy science experiments and safety concerns with having to walk across the school for bathroom usage as the reasoning behind the complaint.
- In a called meeting prior to the regular start time, system Finance Director Melanie James made a financial presentation regarding staffing needs. One report presented reflects an increase in pay, with a sliding scale based on credentials, for substitute teachers in the school system. A second report reflects a need for more teachers at LPS (1st grade), BCES (4th grade), RHPS (1st and 2nd grade), RHES (2nd and two 3rd grade), CES (two 4th and two fifth), BCMS (added position of graduation specialist), RHHS (graduation specialist, RHMS (6th, 7th, 8th, and graduation specialist), RHHS (9 new teachers). Brewer noted that these figures are subject to change and the increase at Carver is due to more space which will also entail smaller class size. Assistant Superintendent John Oliver noted that RHHS is projected to increase by approximately 100 students. The estimated cost for the new staff is $1.3 million.