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Macon County Schools will receive a state budget increase of nearly $540,500 for the 2015-16 school year.

"With minimal local funding, we will be able to provide teacher assistants in all of our K-1 classrooms, and provide some help to our second and third grade classrooms," said Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin. "Additional textbook funding will allow us to address some, but not all of our textbook inadequacies. This budget is a step in the right direction."

The state-approved budget that was passed on Sept. 18 increased public education funding locally to $25,148,879, up from $24,608,382 in 2014.

"The state funding formula for teaching assistants (TAs) was modified this year," explained Dr. Baldwin. "In the past, TAs were funded on a per-pupil basis. Beginning in 2015-16, TAs will be funded as follows: two TAs for every three kindergarten classrooms, one TA for every two first and second grade classrooms, and one TA for every three third grade classrooms. The state average of 21 students per K-3 classroom will be used to determine the number of TAs each LEA will receive. Macon County is negatively impacted by the new formula due to our K-12 schools. Our classrooms do not always come in neat packages of 21."


When the Macon County School District started off the new school year, they did so with three brand new school buses, courtesy of the state of North Carolina.

The new buses came fully equipped with cameras to increase safety for children, but the cameras weren't the only hardware installed.

"We were checking out the cameras around the new buses and noticed another device impacted on the bus, we later learned that it was the hardware for a GPS tracking device," said Macon County Schools Consultant Terry Bell. "All of the new buses had the hardware needed for GPS tracking."

Bell started looking into what steps needed to be taken to implement the tracking devices and found that software was needed to activate them, as well as additional devices for other buses in the district's fleet.


After Macon County Social Workers Annie Wishon and Marci Holland presented to the Macon County Board of Education this summer a report on the number of students exhibiting suicidal ideations, Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin called a group of school professionals together to brainstorm ideas for promoting suicide prevention, responding to students exhibiting suicidal ideation and for promoting school safety.

Macon County Schools IT Director Tim Burrell previewed one step in that process during Monday night's school board meeting when he introduced board members to the We CARE button which will be live on school websites by the end of the week.

"We discussed adding information to our school district’s website regarding suicide prevention and school safety," said Wishon. "Marci and I suggested targeting the topics discussed through a threepronged approach: 1. Providing information about how to access the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline; 2. Providing a means for students, parents, or community members to express concerns regarding school safety; and 3. Providing a means for students, parents, or community members to express concerns about unmet student needs or concerns."


According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a division of the U.S. Department of Education, children who are read to at home expererience a substantial advantage over children who are not.

Since its inception, Read2Me has been working to spread its mission, "Reading matters in Macon," across the county. Each fall, Read2Me teams up with the Western Mountain Reading Council and the Macon County Public Library to host a fun, family-filled parent training event to teach parents the importance of raising a reader.

This year's parent training event is themed "Roll Into Reading," and is entirely free to the public.


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