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Two school officials resign

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Saturday, September 14, 2019

NASHVILLE — The Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education formally accepted the resignation of Brian Miller, former chief of staff for Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools, on Thursday night as well as the resignation of Patricia Hollingsworth, former chief public information officer for the district.

No announcements were made about the resignations and all discussion about the matter was held in closed session. The formal announcement of the resignations was posted after the school board meeting adjourned.

Miller resigned effective Sept. 10 and Hollingsworth resigned effective Sept. 9.

It is not yet clear if these positions will be filled. Though an ad was earlier placed for the chief public information officer position, Del Burns, interim superintendent of Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools, said in a telephone interview this week that the communications department is currently being restructured and that the office of chief public information officer likely will be eliminated.

The school district website does not list any vacancies for the chief of staff position and no ads for that position have appeared.

With the resignation of former Superintendent Shelton Jefferies effective Aug. 2, this means that three of the 13 members of the cabinet staff, including the two top officials, have resigned in the past six weeks.

Thursday’s meeting of the school board marked the first time Burns appeared at a regular school board meeting in his new role as interim superintendent. He marked the occasion by recommending a bold change in the policy regarding school calendars, a measure that was unanimously approved by the school board.

Burns recommended “that the board grant authority to the superintendent to revise the current and future calendars as needed in response to closings due to inclement weather, emergencies and acts of God.”

Burns said there is a need for such a change because of the complexities of maintaining the required number of hours for students to attend school and the required time for 10-month employees, including most teachers, to spend working.

“Currently any revision to an approved calendar requires action by the Board of Education,” Burns said. “The 2019-20 calendar as approved does not specify make-up days. Make-up days for 10-month employees and for students, once banked instructional hours are exhausted, must frequently be communicated at the time the announcement to close schools for the day is made. This is necessary to make certain that the contract requirements for 10-month employees are met, and when banked instructional hours are exhausted, that make-up days for students are communicated.”

The current school board policy does not grant the superintendent enough flexibility to deal with these issues, Burns said.

“The superintendent has the authority to delay opening, close early or close school for the day, but not the authority to revise the calendar. Waiting until the next meeting of the board for action could limit options and potentially cause confusion as to whether 10-month employees are to report or not on a day school is closed,” he said.

The information regarding make-up days and whether teachers and other employees should come to school on days school is closed will be communicated by email and other means through the district’s communication system at the time when closures are announced, Burns said.

Burn said he has spent much of his time visiting each school in the district and meeting district leaders, school board members and county commissioners.

“Folks are looking forward to a great school year,” Burns said. “There is a great deal of pride in this community. There is also a great of expectation as well. We have work to do.”

Burn gave a special commendation to school custodians.

“Given the age of most of the schools in this district, it is no small feat to make those buildings sparkle. But they did,” Burns said.

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