During Tuesday night’s Mooresville Graded School District Board of Education meeting, Senior Resident District Judge Dale Graham performed swearing-in ceremonies for board newcomer Monica Bender and re-elected members Kerry Pennell and Debbie Marsh.

New board member Monica Bender sworn in surrounded by her family.
Kerry Pennell sworn in for another term.
Debbie Marsh sworn in for another term with the assistance of her granddaughter.

After the ceremony, Greg Whitfield was elected as board chair and Pennell as vice chair.

Device Refresh

The board approved a refresh of Apple devices to replace current laptops that are at the end of their normal three-year life cycle. The last refresh was in December 2020, when the district replaced all iPads, MacBook Airs, and Macbook Pros.

MGSD Chief Operations Officer Scott Smith proposed for this refresh cycle that all 3rd through 12th-grade student devices and all teacher devices be replaced with MacBook Airs (M1 chip). Third through 12th grade teachers will also get ninth generation iPads for more efficient casting and other uses.

Due to the age of the devices, current student and teacher Macbook Airs (Intel 2017 model) have lost some functionality. In addition, the current devices are no longer under warranty.

Smith said high school students will be first priority in the refresh because the current devices will not perform some online testing occurring this year.

Since the grades K-2 iPads and the school and district leadership 2020 Macbook Pros are still up to date and functional for the foreseeable future, they will not be part of this refresh cycle.

The total $6,250,225.60 refresh includes $4,614,400.00 for 5,600 MacBook Air laptops, $251,720.00 for 5,600 MacBook Air cases, $834,400.00 for 3 years of AppleCare for MacBook Airs, $147,000.00 for 500 iPads, $7,998.00 for AppleCare OS Support, and sales tax of $394,707.60.

The refresh procurement is covered under North Carolina’s statewide term contract, and payment of the devices will be structured under a 0.00% lease agreement. The first payment of the refresh will be funded in the 2023-2024 fiscal year utilizing the restricted Emergency Connectivity fund balance as well as unrestricted fund balance in Fund 8.

Lease payment dates are January 1 ($700,000), July 1, 2024 ($1,850,075.20), July 1 2025 ($1,850,075.20), and a final payment of $1,850,075.20 on July 1, 2026.

Finance Director Angela Davis said the bulk prices are guaranteed by the state to be the lowest available. Current devices will also be sold to help offset some of the cost.

MGSD 2024-2025 Calendar

Chief Communications Officer Tanae McLean presented the proposed 2024-2025 calendar, devised over two meetings by a committee comprised of staff members, parents, administrators, and students from each of the system’s schools, to the board.

McLean explained the calendar must have 215 total days in the 10-month calendar, including instructional time, annual leave and holidays and work days.

The proposed calendar contains 175 instructional days, or 1,060.5 instructional hours, well over over the state required 1,025 instructional hours per year, which gives a cushion for inclement weather.

The proposed calendar has a staff start date for staff of July 30 (optional workday), with required workdays beginning on July 31. The student start date is August 7, and the last day on May 21, with graduation scheduled for Saturday, May 24.

First semester is 86 days and second semester 89 days, with full week of fall and spring break aligned to Mitchell Community College’s calendar to accommodate dual enrollment students.

After this initial review of the proposed calendar and a 30-day feedback period, the board will consider voting on the calendar at its January meeting. The proposed calendar is available for review in the Parent Square section of the MGSD website in December Board meeting highlights.


* The board approved a minor revision to the MGSD process for random, suspicionless drug testing for students, which would require an update to the policy allowing saliva samples in lieu of urine samples as part of the primary testing protocol.

* McLean presented policy revisions suggested by the N.C. School Board Association (NCSBA) to ensure the board completes timely revisions of BOE policies. The revisions are specific to Mooresville Graded School District policies and procedures. The revised policies were presented for initial review, with a vote on the changes expected at the January board meeting.

Some policy amendments include Parental Involvement (student survey consent on protected topics), Counseling Program (required peer to peer support programs), Operation of School Nutrition Services (prohibits the use of administrative penalties on a student for unpaid meal charges), Ethics and the Purchasing Function (conflicts of interest training), Leave (parental leave), Family and Medical Leave (parental leave), and School Meal and Competitive Foods Standards (requires boards to strive to offer students 100 percent muscadine grape juice).

* The board approved the Mooresville High School JROTC field trip to attend the Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot on February 14-16 for an Introduction to USMC Basic Training. The trip will involve 22 students and 2 staff chaperones. The cost of this trip is $50 per student.

* The board also the Mooresville High School basketball team’s trip is to attend a holiday basketball tournament in Durham on December 27-29. This no-cost trip will involve 14 student-athletes and three staff chaperones.


Student of the Month
Superintendent Jason Gardner and Board Chair Greg Whitfield present recognition to Kellyse Jenkins.

Senior Kellyse Jenkins, nominated by N.F. Woods teachers David Anselmo and Leanna Coonfield, was honored as Student of the Month. Her teachers said that Kellyse has worked hard in her academic career and is excelling in her classes at N.F. Woods as well as at the main campus. “She is very conscientious and cares greatly about her grades.”

Her teachers said Kellyse always comes to school with a smile, and she brings positive energy to every class. She is an excellent writer and always willing to help other students. “Students like Kellyse make being a teacher very rewarding.”

Kellyse is a senior and plans to pursue a career as a child and adolescent therapist.

Artist of the Month
Superintendent Jason Gardner and Board Chair Greg Whitfield present a certificate to Jose Padilla Arellano.

NF Woods/MHS sophomore Jose Padilla Arellano was chosen by teacher Laura Stone as Artist of the Month. “In my Art Appreciation class, Jose is a stand-out student. He truly loves the different artists and techniques we study each day.”

“Jose takes his time and always does his best on every assignment. Jose stays focused and participates in class discussions on the many visual art forms we have studied this semester. He tries any new drawing or painting technique and is excited to do so,” said Stone.

Above and Beyond the Call of Duty Award
Superintendent Jason Gardner and Board Chair Greg Whitfield present the ABCD Award to Karen Ellis.

N.F. Woods Head Custodian Karen Ellis was chosen as the “Above and Beyond the Call of Duty” recipient for December.

Principal Melanie Allen said that Mrs. Ellis, affectionately known as “Ms. K” to all, embodies the spirit of the five core district values. “Ms. K is selfless in day-to-day interactions with staff and students. She is willing to help in any area of NF Woods without question.”

“The students and staff love her and ask where she is when she is not posted up at break times. Watching her interact with students should be a video for authentic relationships.”

“The students love attention from Ms. K, and she is often found imparting words of wisdom and motherly advice. She sees the goodness in everyone and thinks everyone can be successful.”

“She is the head custodian by title at Woods and proudly makes sure the school is shiny and clean, but Ms. K is so much more than that to everyone on campus. Since school started, she has driven a shuttle bus every day, multiple times a day, all the while supervising any cleaning needs at the school.”

“Ms. K has also taken an active role in planning activities for students and helps all staff in making safety a priority. I could not imagine the school without her,” concluded Allen in her nomination.

Conference Champions

Superintendent Jason Gardner recognized the accomplishments of the 2023 Mooresville High School Blue Devil varsity football team, which finished the season with an 11-1 record. They went 10-0 during the regular season and finished as the Greater Metro 4 Conference Champions for the second year in a row.

The team’s seniors finish their high school careers with a 21-3 two-year varsity record and a perfect two-year 12-0 Greater Metro 4 conference record.

Additionally, for the first time in 20 years, MHS has had back-to-back conference championship seasons under Coach Joe Nixon’s leadership. This season is also the first time since the 2013 and 2014 seasons to have back-to-back 10 plus win seasons.

NCSBA Contest Winners

Each year, as part of their annual conference, the North Carolina School Board Association conducts a poster and video contest for all students in North Carolina.

This year the theme of the elementary poster contest was “What makes a good friend?” and the theme of the high school video contest was “Supporting Each Other to Success.”

The Mooresville Graded School District had several students recognized at the conference this year.

In the elementary grades poster contest, the following students earned honorable mention: Emily Sharpe and Garrison Eller (3rd Graders); Emelia Burleyson, Rylee Philipp -and Zaeli Horne (4th Graders); Alexandra Christensen, Addie Helms, and Jaklyn Cottone (5th Graders).
In the high school level video category, out of 44 submissions across the state, Mooresville High School had three submissions selected for recognition: 1st Place team Maverick Owen and Parker Corder, 3rd Place team Melanie Inman and Lynzee Howell, and Honorable Mention team Adrian Abbott and Benjamin Moore. The video students also received a total of $4,000 in prize money for their school program.


MiWaye/NF Woods staff presented its Individualization and Positive Behavior Support Program as the December instructional highlight.

Counselor Allyson Morris presented information about the school’s case management for students, including discussions of students’ needs in PLCs, student tracking, parental/guardian involvement, and regular check-ins with students.

The program’s individualized scheduling helps students meet their academic goals in small class settings while also meeting their social and emotional needs. The individualized scheduling also focuses on achieving the student’s career plan.

One student’s life was significantly impacted by having access to individualized scheduling and case management.

Ingris, a student on track to graduate in 2024, learned in October that she had to move back to Mexico with her family in January. The N.F. Woods team mapped out challenging plan to allow her graduate in December, which she accomplished with the support of staff and her family.

Teacher Tim Anselmo explained reward activities devised by staff. Students earn Fun Friday activities (such as bowling, LNSP, movie day) if they are passing all their classes and had no absences two weeks prior to the Friday event.

Students enjoy drinks and snacks, earbuds, clothes, jewelry, phone chargers, and art supplies as an extrinsic motivation tool.

Anselmo said that at Campus Community events, all community members are welcome. Students must abide by expectations, including no phones and bringing a “pitch in to help attitude” when helping on set-up and clean-up crews.

These events are full of fellowship and fun and are an intrinsic motivation for students. Anselmo said students chooses and plan events, work as greeters, and volunteer for jobs to feel part of community.

Anselmo said he likes to see the students’ enthusiasm as they build relationships and increase their positivity. Some events include an International event featuring tables with information and foods from each country and a Hawaiian luau.

Teacher Laura Stone said another reward is visiting the school store. Students who are passing all classes and having no absences or referrals in the past 2 weeks prior to shopping day are eligible.

Students can get drinks, snacks, clothes, earbuds, jewelry, makeup, art supplies, and chargers as they get to shop.

Other school store visits are for birthday celebrations. Every student receives a trip to the store for their birthday. The store also provides students’ emergency needs or serves as a reward when a staff members “catches” a student doing a good thing.

Teacher Assistant Bonnie Keating described the voluntary service learning program offered at Woods. The program emphasizes communication skills and the importance of community and seeks to instill a service over victim mentality so students can see others have situations worse than theirs.

Service learning opportunities include beautification projects, turkey boxes and placemats, Christmas socks, campus decorating for events, visiting residents of Summit Place, working with pre-K students at South Elementary, and volunteering at the animal shelter and Habitat for Humanity.


The next board meeting will be January 9.

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