A Report to the Citizens of Dare County
From the Chairman of the Board of Education
February 2008

It has been over a year since my last report to you. During that time, a number of events have occurred involving your Board of Education. This letter is an effort to update you in these areas.

Arty Tillett - Regional Principal of the Year
We were recently notified that our First Flight High School Principal and County Principal of the Year, Mr. Arty Tillett, has been selected as the Northeast Regional Principal of the Year. As such, he will move on as one of eight finalists to compete for recognition as the North Carolina Principal of the Year. The fact that Mr. Tillett was selected for this regional honor came as no surprise to our Board. Mr. Tillett’s performance as Principal of First Flight High School has been truly outstanding and has left little to be desired. Mr. Tillett epitomizes all of those characteristics that are so necessary to be a successful high school principal in the 21st century. Our Board is elated that his performance is being recognized statewide and we wish him every success as he competes for North Carolina Principal of the Year, a recognition he truly deserves.

Affordable Housing For Teachers
On Dec. 17, an affordable teacher housing project was approved for Dare County to be located on the First Flight School campus in Kill Devil Hills. The Dare Education Foundation, under the leadership of Lynda Wood, has obtained a no interest loan in the amount of $2.25 million from the State Employees Credit Union Foundation (SECUF) to finance this project. The SECUF has taken the bold step to support public education in North Carolina by making these no interest loans available to counties in North Carolina where teacher housing is either unavailable or not affordable, as in the case of Dare County. The SECUF recently completed its first housing complex, a 24-unit project in Ahoskie for Hertford County Schools. Several of our Board of Education members had the opportunity to tour this housing and immediately recognized the value of a similar project for Dare County. For the past six years our Board has been wrestling with the housing situation for teachers in Dare County. We have recognized that affordable housing would provide a formidable recruiting tool, both in obtaining young, high quality teachers and in retaining teachers currently employed. This project will do just that. It is our goal to do a similar project in Hatteras next year. Our board is extremely grateful that the Dare Education Foundation has taken on this project that will provide affordable housing for our teachers. Needless to say, this is a huge administrative undertaking for their board, and we are assisting them where we can. We know they will be looking for contributions to help fund this effort, and we ask that those of you who can support this worthy project.

Elementary Spanish
A pilot program to teach Spanish to all kindergarten, first and second grade students was initiated during the 2007-08 school year.  Students in all five Dare County elementary schools now attend a weekly Spanish class.  This program will better prepare students for the 21st Century as they learn another language and culture.  Research studies show that young children benefit greatly from exposure to a second language. We plan to expand this program to grades 3 through 5 next year.

More at Four
After the winter break, Dare County Schools opened three new sections of More at Four Pre-K classes. This brings us to a total of five sections. This program offers a quality pre-k experience for students who are at risk of not meeting with success in kindergarten. Students are immersed in a literacy rich environment. This is an exciting program that has delivered a measurable positive outcome. During the five years of operation of this program, all of the at-risk students who attended More at Four were promoted to the next grade and scored comparably to their classmates in reading and mathematics. This is a tremendous program that has had very positive results for our at-risk students.

Modified Block Schedule for High Schools
All three of our high schools have adopted a modified block schedule for 2007-08. The modified block schedule offers a combination of year-long classes and semester classes. Students have the potential of earning seven credits yearly. The schedule was adopted with the recognition that students do not all learn the same material at the same pace. Some courses are better taught using different time frames. Classes of 90 to 95 minutes are available for subjects requiring longer periods at one time or for students who learn material more quickly. Classes of 60 to 75 minutes are available for subjects requiring more instructional time over the course of the year or for students who need more time to digest the material. We have also adopted a more time-intensive scheduling process, with individualized, student-centered scheduling rather than random schedules by computer. As a result of this, our high school principals reported a smoother opening of school and semester change, fewer course conflicts, and fewer requests for schedule changes. 

AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination)
This program targets students who may be in the first generation of their family to go to college. It provides academic and social support for “students in the middle” to be successful in honors and advanced placement courses that will assist these students in gaining college acceptance. In its third year in Dare County Schools, AVID is now in place at MMS, FFMS, MHS and CHSS, with plans to expand to FFHS in 2008-09. All of our AVID students have passed their honors classes with a C or better. Currently, 98 students are in the AVID program at the four schools. We are extremely grateful to the Dare Education Foundation for providing major support for the AVID program in our schools.

County Wide School Construction And Renovation Program
Our construction and renovation program is finally complete with the exception of some finishing touches at Cape Hatteras Secondary School. Over the past eight years we have completed construction of four new schools: Cape Hatteras Elementary, Nags Head Elementary, First Flight High School, and Manteo Middle School. We have completed major renovations at Manteo High School, Manteo Elementary School, Kitty Hawk Elementary and Cape Hatteras Secondary School. Our Alternative High School has relocated into renovated spaces at the old Manteo Middle School, which is now the COA Campus. A new wing was added to First Flight Middle School to provide for an increase in student population at that site. Finally, an administrative building was constructed adjacent to the Nags Head Elementary School, which houses all central office staff. It has overall been an extremely successful construction and renovation program that has provided our students, our teachers and our staff with first-class facilities. We are indeed fortunate to have had the requisite funding to make this possible.

Our challenge now is to maintain these wonderful facilities, including our grounds and athletic complexes in such a manner that will ensure their top-notch condition for many years to come. Our Board is working hard to ensure that no stone is left unturned in finding ways to accomplish this goal and to ensure that adequate funding is provided for this purpose.

Board of Education Meetings
The Board of Education meets on the second Tuesday of each month. Our meetings begin at 7:30 p.m., except when we are touring schools when our meetings begin at 6 p.m. We meet at a different school each month. This affords the public the opportunity to attend a Board meeting at a school in their neighborhood. At each meeting, we have a short period called “Instructional Highlights” where, with student participants, we highlight some educational activity at the host school.  I would encourage you to attend our meetings and keep informed as to what is going on in our schools. The meeting schedule for the next several months is as follows:

February 12, 2008  6:00 PM Manteo High School
March 11, 2008 7:30 PM First Flight Middle School
April 8, 2008 7:00 PM Cape Hatteras Secondary School
May 13, 2008 6:00 PM Nags Head Elementary School
June 10, 2008 7:30 PM Manteo Middle School
Our Teachers and our Administrators
Whenever I visit our schools and have the opportunity to interact with our teachers and our administrators I am reminded of how fortunate our Board is to have the opportunity and the privilege to work with such a tremendous group of educators. Day in, day out they do a superlative job of teaching our children. Our number one priority must be to support them in every way we can. We must continue to work to ensure that they are adequately compensated for the job they do. We implore each of you to visit our schools, watch them in action and express your appreciation for what they do.

In closing, let me thank all of you for your continuing support of our schools. We have come a long way over the past ten years and our progress is a direct result of the great support our Board of Education receives from the citizens of Dare County. Thank you for your continued support.

Very Respectfully,

David E. Oaksmith, Jr., Chairman
Dare County Board of Education



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