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Elementary students in Macon County are subject to corporal punishment, or paddling, as a form of discipline.

In 2011, when Macon County Schools added a provision to the county's board policy permitting corporal punishment as a form of discipline, there were 60 districts in the state with a corporal punishment policy. Over the years, that number has dwindled and Macon County stands as one of only three school districts with such a policy. Swain County Schools garnered attention last month when their board of education voted to do away with their corporal punishment policy.

According to Macon County Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin, 27 reports of corporal punishment were recorded for the 2013-14 school year. Of those 27 instances, 24 occurred at South Macon and three occurred at Iotla Valley.

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The North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA) is now accepting Opportunity Scholarship applications for the 2015-16 school year. The deadline for firsttime and renewal applications is March 1.

The Opportunity Scholarship Program is the subject of lawsuits now pending before the North Carolina Supreme Court; the case will be heard starting on February 17. NCSEAA has been authorized to prepare for the 2015-16 school year but cannot disburse funds without further order of the Court. The Opportunity Scholarship Program provides funding of up to $4,200 per year for low-income children who choose to attend a participating nonpublic school.

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After hoping to make it through the 2014-15 school year by the skin of their teeth, Macon County Schools is once again bracing for significant budget shortfall.

In 2014-15, the school district was dealt a hand that consisted of a $188,946 reduction in teacher assistant funding, an additional cost of $131,619.93 to cover the salary increase passed by the state to cover the locally paid teachers, and a salary increase of all other locally paid employees to the tune of $34,224.62. Those budget adjustments came after the school district developed the year's budget, meaning the school system had to scramble to make ends meet to account for the $354,666.52 shortfall.

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Even in the military, Joshua Jones couldn’t recall a training experience quite like what he experienced while working toward his National Park Service-Seasonal Law Enforcement Training (NPS-SLET) certification this past fall at Southwestern Community College’s Public Safety Training Center.

“In the military, they were more animated and angry,” said Jones, who lives in Illinois and works at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, Mo. “The first thing I noticed at SCC is that the instructors are amazing. I never had trainers that talented. Every session we went into, they brought in legitimate experts in that particular field.”

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