By Heather Mullinix
The Cumberland County Board of Education tabled action on naming the football field at North Cumberland Elementary in honor of long-time Cumberland County educator and first principal of the school Estel Oaks, and directed the policy committee to develop a policy for naming of school facilities.
"I do think we need a policy," Director of Schools Donald Andrews told the board during its July meeting. "I'm not negative toward this situation but overall, if we don't have a policy in place, it does lend itself to challenges."
Charles Tollett, 1st District representative, moved to table the recommendation until a policy could be developed. The motion was supported by Sandy Brewer, 3rd District representative. The motion passed unanimously.
Oakes served as principal of North Cumberland from its opening in 1981 to 1987. He also served as principal at Pine View, Tabor and Woody schools during his 30-year career with the school system.
David Bowman, 7th District representative, asked the policy committee to work quickly, as the school hoped to dedicate the field during homecoming activities this fall.
The board also heard an update on the daycare program operated through Homestead Elementary School's Cumberland County Quality Childcare Program (CCQCP). The program finished the year supported by the fees of the four children enrolled in the program. According to Principal Robin Perry, $14,000 was collected in revenue and $12,000 was spent on salary for the one individual employed through the program.
Because there is only one staff member, the program is limited to no more than five children, the maximum allowed by state daycare regulations.
"To maintain funding and operate in the black, we had to have four," Perry explained, adding the fee is $110 per week and parents pay even if their child is not in attendance. The program is open only to employees of Homestead Elementary.
"We checked with other daycares and that rate is comparable," Perry said.
Parents of children enrolled in the program noted it was a comfort to know their child was nearby and it was convenient, as well, allowing the parents to have lunch with their child.
Sarah Kuffel said, "The kids are always happy and playing developmentally appropriate games. We're glad to have this opportunity."
Other schools have reportedly inquired about starting similar programs. Tollett noted having available space was the biggest hurdle for schools. Andrews said it was a program available to all schools that were willing to go through the process and gain approval. Any such program must pay its own way, however, like the before and after school programs at North Cumberland and Homestead elementary schools.
Jim Blalock, 8th District representative, noted he'd objected to the program the year before because it was not available to all the schools.
Bowman said, "I maintain there are plenty of daycares in Cumberland County."
Blalock agreed, adding, "We don't need to get into the daycare business."
Dan Schlafer, 9th District representative, said he believed the program offered a great service to the employees of the school.
"This is a human need we're talking about," Schlafer said. "Anything you do to help people is a positive."
Josh Stone, 4th District representative, noted the board often agreed teachers and staff were underpaid and under-appreciated.
"To me, that benefit, I'd sure appreciate it," he said. "They've got the room and are operating in the black. I don't see a bad thing as a perk to the employees of Homestead and any other school with the desire to start a program."
A complete financial report was not available at the July meeting; however, it was noted bus advertising had brought in $16,565 in revenue. Chief Financial Officer Robert Scarbrough noted few things had been paid for yet from the budget, though purchase orders were being processed as supplies were being purchased for the start of the school year, with students set to return to classes Aug. 7 for an abbreviated day and the first full day for students Aug. 9.
In other business, the board approved disposal of surplus property at Brown Elementary and Central Services. Also approved was a school-wide fundraiser for North Cumberland Elementary through Redemption Marketing Service, offering cookie dough and snacks.