The Elizabeth City-Pasquotank School Board plans to have a new superintendent in place by next summer.
That’s according to President Sharon Warden, who said the school board is again planning to contract with the NC School Boards Association to help guide the board’s research.
“We will be meeting with a representative from the NCSBA at our October committee meeting to finalize our contract with them,” Warden said in response to a request from the Daily Advance. “We have communicated with them about our intentions to have someone in place by July 1, 2022… We are all committed to finding a great candidate who is a perfect fit for ECPPS and our community. “
Eddie Ingram, an Elizabeth City native who began his career as a teacher at Northeastern High School, has served as ECPPS’s acting superintendent since August 1. Ingram retired earlier this year as superintendent of Berkeley County Schools in South Carolina.
Ingram took over after Rhonda James-Davis, currently the district’s general manager of human resources and ancillary services, resigned as acting superintendent. James-Davis was named acting superintendent after Superintendent Catherine Edmonds left in March to take up a position with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
The council’s search for a new superintendent was brought up at its meeting last week when local civil rights activist Keith Rivers said he feared he had heard nothing of the council’s plans to appoint a permanent superintendent. .
Rivers, who was speaking during the public comment portion of the meeting, said his comments were not a reflection on Ingram’s service, but rather a reminder that he is important for accountability reasons for ECPPS to have a permanent superintendent in place. He urged council to begin the search for the superintendent without delay.
In other public comments at the meeting, Mitchell Coffey, who noted that he is employed as an ROTC instructor at Pasquotank County High School, spoke of low morale among educators.
“There is a communication problem,” he said.
Teachers communicate with each other but don’t have open lines of communication with administrators, Coffey said. “Nothing goes to the top,” he said.
He said his military experience taught him the importance of assessing morale and, “Madam, sir, morale is not good.”
Teachers are happy to be back in school to teach students face-to-face, but also concerned about potential virus exposure, he said. Coffey said there was federal money made available for sick leave, but now it’s unclear where that money went.
“A great way to destroy morale: play with people’s salaries, play with their health, play with their schedule, play with uncertainty,” Coffey said. “And we have everything going on right now.”
Jason Wise, in comments submitted to the board via email, praised board members and Ingram for listening to and responding to teachers’ concerns.
“Now, I think it’s time to have the same willingness to listen to CDC and parents,” Wise said. “My son, like many students, was recently quarantined from school for 14 days. It is unfortunate that my healthy but quarantined junior could not receive instructions to help him complete his homework. While I’m grateful that our teachers’ calls have been heard regarding virtual learning, I’m concerned about how long his quarantine will last.
Wise said he understands ECPPS policy calls for a 14-day quarantine following close contact with a COVID-19 positive person. He said he also understands that the policy does not allow for any possibility of reducing this time.
CDC recommendations state that a negative test administered between days five and seven after exposure negates the need for quarantine, Wise said.
Wise said it was foolish not to follow the CDC’s recommendation. He also said a rapid test result should be deemed sufficient.
Heather Holsinger, also in comments submitted via email, asked how long ECPPS plans to continue quarantining students whenever another student tests positive for COVID-19. She also asked why COVID-19 was being treated as a bigger threat than the flu.
As of Tuesday, the ECPPS District had reported 193 COVID-19 infections among students and staff. Nearly 60% of infections have been reported at four schools: Pasquotank and Northeastern High Schools and River Road and Elizabeth City Colleges.