2014 big year for Rowan-Salisbury School System
There’s no way to get around the fact that 2014 was a big year for the Rowan-Salisbury School System.
Here’s a roundup of some of the top stories to come out of the district during 2014.
Resolution at last on a central office
After months of legal mediation and years of disagreement, the school board finally reached a $40.5 agreement with county commissioners that provides funding for a central services office, renovations to Knox Middle School and consolidating Woodleaf and Cleveland elementary schools.
Of the total amount, $6.5 million is for the central office. The property, located in the 500 block of North Main Street in downtown Salisbury, was purchased by Lee and Mona Lisa Wallace. The Wallaces will swap the land for the school system’s current executive office property on Ellis Street in Salisbury when the building is completed.
Mixing it up: School board shifts ideologies
For the first time in 20 years, Kay Wright Norman is no longer serving on the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education. Newcomers Travis Allen and Dean Hunter ousted Norman and L.A. Overcash, creating a new majority.
Dr. Richard Miller retained his seat in a race against Phil Hardin and W.F. Owens.
He wasn’t able to retain his seat as chairman of the board, however. Josh Wagner was elected to take on the position, and Hunter is now the vice chairman.
Knox Middle gets co-principals
After the fourth principal since 2008 left Knox Middle School in the middle of the year, Co-principals Dr. Latoya Dixon and Dr. Michael Waiksnis took the helm the troubled middle school.
Waiksnis and Dixon left principal positions in South Carolina’s Rock Hill School District — Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody’s former district — for the positions at Knox. Both have been principals since 2008.
School board grapples over sex-based clubs and Bible classes
The school board quietly updated Policy 6-8 and removed a clause that banned sex-based clubs, including Gay-Straight Alliances.
After addressing the public outcry, the board looked into its options and decided to uphold its decision rather than reverse it, saying that their only other option would be to ban all non-academic clubs.
Later in the year, the Freedom From Religion Foundation challenged the district’s elementary Bible classes, claiming that young children are unable to decipher between fact and fiction.
The board decided to keep its classes as is for now, but to review the curriculum to ensure it’s in line with state and federal standards.
A new focus
Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody developed a new strategic plan that runs through 2017 and focuses on literacy, technology, problem-based learning and school safety.
One-to-one digital conversion
The district began the process of providing a laptop or iPad to each teacher and student in the third grade or above. Teachers received their laptops at the beginning of the summer, and the high school laptop deployment was executed in the fall. Middle schoolers recently received iPads, and third- through fifth-graders will receive theirs after winter break.
School violence remains top of mind
A Salisbury High School student was shot on campus after classes were dismissed in February. The victim, Shaleek Williams, was treated and released that day.
A 14-year-old brought two butcher knives and a scary Halloween clown mask to West Rowan Middle School in November. School Resource Officer Danny Lindley used his baton to get the student to release the knife.
The school system is working on security upgrades at all schools.
High level personnel changes
Moody wrapped up her first year as superintendent in October. Assistant superintendent of Operations Anthony Vann was hired early in the year, and Assistant Superintendent of Administration Nathan Currie quietly resigned at the end of September. Currie’s replacement, April Kuhn, was named the executive director of administration and legal services, rather than an assistant superintendent.