TARBORO — Edgecombe County Public Schools has been awarded a $311,671 school safety grant, members of the Edgecombe County Board of Education learned on Monday at their regular meeting.
The grant award was for the full amount requested by the school district, Charlene Pittman, assistant superintendent for human resources, told school board members, and $29,580 will be used for school safety equipment, specifically for access control doors for the elementary schools. Another $282,091 will be used to facilitate school safety training, Pittman said.
“We know that our students may have or are currently experiencing tough times,” Pittman said. “With this school safety grant funding, we have $282,091 that can be used toward building the capacity of our staff, so that our staff can help our students who are experiencing these difficulties.”
The school board also approved the acceptance of a Rural Utilities Service Distance Learning Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That grant award is $153,702.
“This money will be used for our distance learning labs at our middle schools,” said Matthew Mayo, director of technology for Edgecombe County Public Schools. “We are getting ready for our high school learning labs and I will be back in a few months to talk to you about our elementary schools.”
The school board also gave final approval to three new school board polices designed to address issues imposed by advances in technology.
The first of the policies addresses the use of personal technology to conduct school business. Teachers and other staff members are expected to use only school-supported technology in conducting school business, the policy states. Using personal technology, such as cell phones or computers, may obligate the school district to review the content on these devices, the policy states.
“The Edgecombe County Board of Education recognizes that employees may use a variety of personal technology devices and accounts in their personal lives,” the policy states. “At times, it may be convenient for employees to use their personal technology devices and accounts to conduct school business. Although such use of personal technology and accounts may be convenient, it is likely to produce a conflict between employees’ interests and the school’s obligations.”
The second policy deals with the use of unmanned aircraft or drones.
“The Edgecombe County Board of Education supports and encourages the use of innovative and emerging technologies, including unmanned aircraft or drones, to further the goals and objectives of the educational program. However, the board also must consider how the use of such technologies may impact the safety, security and privacy of people and property,” the policy states.
The policy then outlines certain conditions governing the use of drones, including banning the use of drones weighing more than 55 pounds on school property or at a school-sponsored event.
The third policy outlines the regulations governing the use of “crowdfunding” on behalf of schools or the school district. Crowdfunding refers to using internet resources to solicit small amounts of funds from many people to support a cause, person or project. GoFundMe pages are an example of crowdfunding.
The new policy prohibits the use of crowdfunding on behalf of a school or the school district unless it is approved by certain parties. For crowdfunding projects up to $500, that approval must come from the principal of the school. For amounts from $500 to $1,000, that approval must come from the principal and the associate superintendent of the school district. Amounts up to $5,000 must be reviewed by the district superintendent, and larger amounts require approval by the school board.
According to the policy, “a crowdfunding campaign is considered to be on behalf of the school system if it uses imagery or language that would lead a reasonable person to assume that it is associated with or would benefit the school system.”
These policies are optional policies not required by the State Board of Education, though they are encouraged, Pittman said.