Craven County Board of Education member Kelli Muse publicly criticized the district’s leadership in April. Half a year later, there may be a different opinion.
Muse previously questioned the lack of transparency and school staffing vacancies. Superintendent Wendy Miller was hired by the board in July.
For the short time in the position, Miller and the Board of Education have been challenged with protests against mask mandates and disruptions during board meetings.
Muse was asked her thoughts on Miller’s work with CCS as superintendent and she declined to comment.
A different school board member, Chairperson Frances Boomer, spoke up and commended Miller’s this week for her focus on pressing issues.
One of which is bringing a higher level of morale within the system. Morale was said to be low at the end of last school year, previously by Muse.
More:Muse cites leadership failure in Craven County Schools transparency, staff vacancy complaints
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“People feel that she (Miller) values them and values relationships,” said Boomer. “People don’t really know who someone is until they know that they care about them and that has been a strong trait for her.
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So far, all of the ideas Boomer says Miller has presented to the board have been beneficial. One example was the raising of pay for bus drivers and substitute teachers while adding in bonuses for teacher assistants.
The board approved the pay increase at their Oct. 21 meeting, hoping to attract applicants in the hunt to fill 25 open positions for bus drivers, at the time of the announcement.
Another example is being as transparent as possible.
Miller has reiterated to the public of the board’s intentions to lift the current mask mandate once the county’s transmission rate is back in the yellow.
Two things must happen, the number of cases in a seven-day period for Craven per 100,000 has to be at or below 60 and the percent positive rate for cases has to be 7.9% or below.
On Thursday, the cases dropped below 60 and continued the trend Friday at 53 cases, according to the NCDHHS. Boomer explained if the average case count stays below that mark, the mandate could be lifted by later this week.
MORE: Student mask mandates for Craven could be lifted soon
“She is very transparent, not trying to hide anything from anyone,” Boomer added. “In order to build a trusting relationship, you’ve got to be transparent about what is going on. She’ll point out the good but also highlights improvement areas.
Some areas of improvement can be solved with ease, like last year’s low end-of-the-year test scores brought on by virtual learning constraints. Others have more of a complex solution, like why CCS has 178 job openings, according to their website.
More:Reading/Math: Craven test scores show over 50% of 3rd-8th graders failed during pandemic
Holding out hope that Miller continues her strong start as superintendent, New Bern resident Jacob Corley says Miller seems to have more of a pulse on the heartbeat of what teachers need.
“I like giving the kids and teachers an extra day for Veterans Day. I’m hoping she continues to keep the kids and teachers well beings at heart with future decisions and developments,” said Corley.
As for attracting more teachers, Corley added Miller’s efforts will go a long way in creating jobs worth having, along with enticing younger teachers to come and relocate to Craven.
Reporter Trevor Dunnell can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please consider supporting local journalism by signing up for a digital subscription for as little as $1 a month. Newbernsj.com/subscribenow