At the special called meeting of the Mitchell County Board of Education on June 25th several personnel positions were approved including Wendy Wiseman as Science teacher at Mitchell High, Marvin “Scott” Jacumin as Social Studies teacher at Mitchell High and Joshua Michael Brooks as Interim Social Studies teacher at Harris Middle School. In other positions Trixie Briggs was approved as Substitute Bus Driver and Kellie Briggs as a volunteer.
A 25 cent increase to school lunches has been approved by the Mitchell County Board of Education for next year. Mitchell County Schools have been selling their lunches at a loss for several years. The vote on Monday to raise the school lunch prices is the first since 2008. Previous school boards have all voted to use local funds to pay for the shortfall so as to keep prices low for students and parents. The lunch increase is a result of rising food costs, dwindling student enrollment, and federal regulations imposed by the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010. This move will increase the prices at elementary schools in Mitchell County to $2 and at the middle and high schools cost will be $2.25. The increase in lunch price will affect roughly 800 students in the school district who pay full price for lunch at school. Around 1,100 of the district’s nearly 1,900 students are in the free and reduced lunch program. School districts across the region are facing similar issues in their child nutrition funds. Despite this new increase in school lunch prices, Mitchell County still has the lowest prices in the region. Yancey County Schools charge $2.05 for elementary schools and $2.30 for middle and high schools. The Avery County School Board recently voted to raise the price of their lunch by five cents to $2.15 for elementary schools and $2.35 for middle and high schools. Madison County schools charge elementary students $2.20 and middle and high school students $2.35.
Mitchell County Commissioners have awarded $88,000 to fund a 1:1 Laptop Initiative for middle school students. This will greatly enhance the newly implemented STEM program, which incorporates Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The system was recently awarded $350,000 from Golden LEAF to implement Discovery Labs in every school. These innovative STEM Discovery Labs will provide students valuable hands-on manipulative and interactive resources, which build a strong foundation of math and science skills. This will integrate with the current economic development plan in Mitchell County which is centered around occupations that are focused precisely on areas of emphasis in the STEM program. The allocation is a reflection of the schools system and county’s efforts to develop a workforce that can think critically and understand and apply engineering design processes. Superintendent Spurling said "I am grateful to our Board of Commissioners for their financial commitment in funding the middle school 1:1 Laptop Initiative. This will enhance our STEM program and provide a laptop for every 5th through 8th grade student. This technology supports the twenty first century classrooms digital teaching and learning which is our school district's objective."