PITTSBORO — The Chatham County Schools Board of Education will resume meeting at the Chatham County Historic Courthouse for its next regular meeting on Sept. 13.
Over the course of the pandemic, the board has met at George Moses Horton Middle School and the Central Services Office building.
The district will continue livestreaming its meetings, the board decided at its regular meeting last Thursday at Horton Middle. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent gathering size limits, district board meetings were not streamed online.
“There’s an opportunity for us to expand our public engagement,” Superintendent Dr. Anthony Jackson said of the future move to the courthouse. “Before we incur those expenses, (administration) wants to know that the will of the board at this point to continue moving forward with that setting to be able to livestream the meetings from that space.”
The Chatham County Board of Commissioners also meets at the Pittsboro courthouse; it moved back to the courthouse in June after meeting at the Agriculture and Conference Center because of COVID-19 meeting restrictions. The county is using a pre-pandemic system, which uses courthouse cameras, to stream meetings — after using video platform GoToWebinar during the pandemic.
North Carolina law concerning the meetings of public bodies requires official business of a public body to be open to the public, with any person entitled to attend such a meeting. That law also requires remote meetings to be open to the public, though it does not require remote meetings to be offered. So while streaming meetings is not legally required, many bodies are opting to continue to do so after offering them for so long due to COVID-19 meeting restrictions.
“That would be for me consistent with access and wanting the public to have access and be really transparent about our processes and all of that,” board member Jane Allen Wilson said regarding the streaming of meetings. “I know that we’re not the only ones too, the county commissioners also use the space — so I wonder if there’s an effort to collaborate around that.”
Jackson said the district plans to see if collaborative streaming efforts are possible.
“It may well be just moving in equipment like we do here and keeping it going. I’m just not sure what’s available at the space,” he said. “So we just want to make sure that you’re clear that it may take some additional resources.”
The board also on Thursday approved a district contract with Westaff, a professional staffing agency that will serve as an additional source for securing temporary employees in office support positions in which CCS staff members are on extended leave.
“Whenever possible, we identify former district employees to provide this assistance,” the district’s agenda document says. “However, candidates are not always available.”
CCS will be billed based on time worked by the employees, at the hourly rate determined by the district plus 42% for staffing costs. The district’s human resources division will determine needs on a case-by-case basis, Associate Superintendent for Human Resources Janice Frazier told the board.
The contract requires that CCS pay a fee of 20% if it hires a Westaff employee during their term of service or within six months of their assignment, Frazier said. The district could hire the individual without any fees after they’ve worked 90 days.
“Additionally, if we encourage or facilitate a temporary employee to leave Westaff to work for us through another staffing agency,” the agenda document says, “we agree to pay a fee of 10% of the individual’s estimated wages.”
The contract started June 24 and will continue until June 24, 2024, the contract says, “after which point this Service Letter will renew on a month-to-month basis until terminated by either party.”
In its consent agenda, the board also approved an amended budget for the 2020-21 school year, which now totals $154 million. That budget included increased total state revenue, additional funding to cover state paid employee benefits and an increase in capital outlay funds revenue for Seaforth High School, Chatham Grove Elementary and the new central service building.
Related to the new central service building, the board also approved a contract with Summit Design and Engineering Services to provide engineering consultant services for the building project — not to exceed $127,307.
Also as part of its consent agenda, the board approved a contract for mowing and spraying services at 15 of its schools — not to exceed the amount of $205,700 — provided in lieu of additional custodial hours and mowing equipment or when schools have open custodial positions.
The board also approved contracts to replace the ramps for modular classrooms at Bennett, J.S. Waters, Siler City Elementary, and Silk Hope schools. The cost for the ramps, each purchased from the same provider, will be $179,727 — budgeted through the district’s approved Capital Outlay Plan.
“These are aluminum ramps that will replace wooden ones that have been in place for several years,” the agenda document says. Although the ramps will be placed at different schools, they are all being purchased from the same provider.
Reporter Hannah McClellan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @HannerMcClellan.
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