February Polk County School Board meeting notes
The Polk County Board of Education voted at its February meeting to allow students at Polk County Early College (PCEC) to compete in athletics beginning with the 2021-2022 school year. That reverses a decision the board made in February 2015 to limit athletics to students enrolled at Polk County High School, that policy taking effect during the 2017-18 school year.
The 2015 decision, at a time when only 1-2 PCEC students per year were taking part in high school athletics, aligned Polk County with other school districts across the state in not including PCEC’s enrollment as part of Polk County High School’s total for athletic classification purposes as required by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. It also, said then-Superintendent Bill Miller, reflected the changing nature of the early college at that point in its evolution.
PCEC opened in 2007 as the first virtual early college in the state. The school now has a physical campus, located adjacent to Polk County High School, and offers classes from on-campus faculty as well as online courses. Students can take more than the four classes per semester allowed at PCHS, some taking five or six classes per semester, and many early college students earn a two-year associate’s degree while completing their high school requirements.
The board opened the meeting by expressing its appreciation for the service of long-time member James “Jim” Cowan. Superintendent Aaron Greene read a statement that commended his 30-year service on the Tryon City and Polk County Boards of Education and Cowan’s long history of support for students and schools.
Board members recognized a moment of silence to honor Mr. Cowan after his passing in January. The statement is included below.
In other items:
• Assistant Superintendent Dave Scherping provided updates regarding a significant facility improvement project for Polk County High Schools HVAC system, and the board voted to proceed and partner with Polk County Local Government to secure financing for the project.
• The board adopted a calendar change making the March 5 workday a student day to make up for a day missed in January due to inclement weather.
• The board approved budget amendments and scheduled their annual Budget Workshop for the afternoon of their next regular meeting on March 8.
• Curriculum and Instruction Director Ronette Dill gave updates on mid-year assessment results and the completion of kindergarten early learning inventories.
• The board approved the second reading of its “Title IX Sexual Harassment Grievance Process” policy.
Statement of Appreciation for Mr. James Cowan:
Polk County lost a community icon and significant supporter of children and education when Mr. James Cowan passed away on January 11, 2021.
Mr. Cowan was a long-time Board of Education member, first with Tryon City Schools for twelve years and then for Polk County Schools for another twenty years.
For more than three decades he helped govern and shape education in Polk County. For those who knew him, Mr. Cowan was always giving of his time and resources for the young people of Polk County. He believed firmly in the promise of education and worked hard to ensure our schools and educators were supported and doing their best to serve our students. Mr. Cowan consistently argued for more resources for schools, spread happiness by visiting our students and worked to convince community members that investing in our local education system pays huge dividends. He was truly a champion for young people and Polk County.
It is with this in mind that I now ask our Polk County Board of Education and our entire community to pause for a moment and reflect on Mr. Cowan’s service as a Board of Education member, and what his leadership and support have done for our students and schools. Furthermore, I offer these remarks during tonight’s meeting to ensure Mr. Cowan’s efforts are recognized in an official Polk County Board of Education meeting and recorded for future members and educators to remember.
On behalf of the Polk County Board of Education and our entire Polk Schools Family I offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Jim Cowan, and our sincere appreciation for his service to the Tryon City and Polk County Boards of Education.
At this time, I would ask that we all recognize a moment of silence in memory of Mr. James Cowan.
From Staff Reports