The Yadkin County Board of Commissioners and Yadkin County School Board held a joint meeting on Monday at West Yadkin Elementary School.
County Manager Lisa Hughes gave a brief report to both boards regarding some ongoing projects in the county including the new building which will be part of the Yadkin campus of Surry Community College and the Yadkin County Memorial Park. The new building is expected to be completed next spring. Hughes reported that the county did not receive grant funding for additional trails at the park, but they were continuing to look for other grants to fund the project.
During his report, School Superintendent Dr. Todd Martin shared news about one of the local robotics teams. Yadkin County elementary and middle school students recently competed with each other in a county-wide robotics tournament where the students use computer controlled robots to complete a series of tasks. A team from Forbush Elementary went on to compete in the regional competition at Watauga High School. They will go on the state robotics championship and a chance to compete nationally in St. Louis.
“They are rolling and doing well. We’re extremely proud of them,” Martin said.
Martin reported that the 2016-17 school calendar has been approved. The start date will be Aug. 24, 2016.
The school system was able to get a weather waiver to move back the start date from the state mandated start date of Aug. 29.
Martin said it was a packed calendar for the next academic year and he expressed frustration that the state dictates when schools can begin.
The County Commissioners and School Board members agreed it would be better if the calendar could line up with the community college calendar as many students also take community college courses. An earlier start date would also ensure that students could complete first semester exams before the Christmas break. Martin said the students are the “losers” in the current calendar as the long Christmas break prior to exams puts them at a disadvantage.
County Chairman Kevin Austin said he would continue to speak with local legislators on the topic.
Martin also reported that the school system is working to create some online courses for high school juniors and seniors for 2016. Some of these courses will be a benefit to students who are planning to pursue associates degrees in technical industries or enter the workforce directly after high school. He also noted the courses would be designed and taught by Yadkin County teachers.
The online courses will give students more freedom during the day so they can pursue internships, Martin said.
“We’re excited about that,” Martin said. “We think it’s going to give more choices to our students and we think they, and the parents, will like that these courses are designed by Yadkin County teachers and will be conducted by Yadkin County teachers.”
Martin also noted that Surry Community College would be offering more college transfer courses at the Yadkin campus as well as new courses in megatronics, a specialty field combining mechanical engineering and computer science.
“We’re trying to do some things to supply businesses and industries with some more folks,” Martin said. “We’re trying to do some things that will encourage our students to graduate from high school here and continue to live and work here in some good paying jobs.”
Austin said he was pleased to hear about the new megatronics program as even farming, a major industry in the county, is using more and more technical processes.
“I think that the future of Yadkin County is being built right here in Yadkin County,” Austin said.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.