Perquimans Schools Superintendent Tanya Turner said the school system’s employees are happy in the workplace serving the students and the community.

To learn more about some of those staff who were recognized for their achievements during the Nov. 25 Perquimans Board of Education meeting, see pages A6-7.

During Turner’s report, she presented a summary of the 2019 Local Teacher Working Conditions Survey. Soon after starting as superintendent in May, Turner began talking with teachers, staff and administrators to learn their opinions.

Among the many issues surveyed included questions concerning class size, instructional time, student discipline, leadership, instructional resource accessibility and community support.

Turner concluded that the school system’s metrics met or exceeded state standards – meaning the school system is a good place to work.

“Perquimans County School employees are dedicated to this county and the students of our community,” Turner said. “That is what makes this such a special place to live and work. There is a true sense of family that permeates the school system making it a great place to be. When 96.55% of your employees say that this is a great place to work, you know you are in a great place!. I’m so proud to serve the people of Perquimans County schools!”

In other news, Rube Blanchard, school system’s chief financial officer, provided an update regarding the renewal of property insurance coverage with the NC Public School Insurance Fund. Rates will be slightly increasing primarily due to the addition of the new football stadium to the coverage plan.

Also, Blanchard noted that the system pays out more than $162,000 annually for students to have Chromebook laptops. Vendor has asked for an additional $3,000 to pay property taxes associated with the laptops. Because the laptops are leased, BOE and Blanchard are going to review the contract to learn more about this charge.

In other matters, Dr. Latonia Johnson and Ashley Waters – school district’s mental health counselors – provided a presentation that concluded more attention is needed to better provide for students’ mental health well-being.

Nearly 1 in 5 Tarheel state students have a mental health and/or substance use disorder; of those, 75% will not receive treatment in the current system, according to state statistics. Suicide was the second leading cause of death among people aged 10-24 and, in North Carolina, the total number of youth suicides has doubled in recent years.

In other matters, BOE Chairwoman Anne White spoke highly how inspired she was after attending a recent state conference – “one system, one team, one goal.”

Speaking of inspiration, White told the story of Anthony Johnson, a high school drop-out at age 16, who discovered he wanted to be a teacher later in life – 28 years old. Today, Johnson, an high school teacher in Salisbury, is one of the state’s best teachers and has achieved a score of accolades in recent years including North Carolina’s Southwest Regional Teacher of the Year 2016-2017 and an Apple Distinguished Educator.

Another story White mentioned was that of Barry Williams, Superintendent of Gates County Schools. White said long before Williams entered the teaching profession, he was a railroad man like his father; a good paying job as a train engineer. Williams decided he didn’t like that career track, so he started teaching. Today, Williams is 2020 NC Regional Superintendent of the Year for the Northeast Region.

In other news, BOE adopted a resolution authorizing the Board Chair and Superintendent to execute and file applications for federal and/or state assistance for the purpose of obtaining certain state and federal financial assistance under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief & Emergency Assistance Act, or as otherwise available. Stafford Act seeks to bring an orderly and systemic means of federal natural disaster assistance for state and local governments in carrying out their responsibilities to aid citizens.

Congress’s intention was to encourage states and localities to develop comprehensive disaster preparedness plans, prepare for better intergovernmental coordination in the face of a disaster, encourage the use of insurance coverage, and provide federal assistance programs for losses due to a disaster.

In addition, the BOE resolution authorizes the Board Chair and Superintendent to represent and act for the Organization in all dealings with the State of North Carolina and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for all matters pertaining to such disaster assistance required by the grant agreements and the assurances.

Also, BOE adopted a resolution urging the State to take action to remit civil penalties unconstitutionally withheld from North Carolina’s Public Schools. The state’s criminal justice system charges defendants with mandatory fines and fees for costs related to court, jail, community service, and more.

The resolution challenges the constitutionality of court costs on the grounds that some are being used to fund the court system, not the local school system as required by the constitution.

In other matters, BOE will be exploring a methodology – a combination of state and local metrics – for reviewing Turner’s performance as superintendent when her contract comes up for renewal next year.

Lastly, school administrators will lead school walk-throughs with county commissioners – Wednesday, Dec. 11, between 5-7 p.m. and Thursday, Dec. 12 between 5-7 p.m.

Staff writer Miles Layton can be reached at mlayton@ncweeklies.com