The proceeds from the third annual Carolina Donut Festival were donated to The Endowment Fund during Monday night’s meeting of the McDowell County Board of Education.

“This year was a huge success,” said festival organizer Morgan Pittman. “We have the best volunteers in McDowell County Schools. Over and over I had people tell me how beautiful our area was and how friendly our volunteers were. We are estimating that we had about 14,000 visitors in downtown Marion that day.”

She and Beth Morgan presented the McDowell County Board of Education with a check of $7,501. Pittman said the Donut Dash 5K sold out for the third year in a row with participants from California, Florida, Arizona, Indiana and across the state.

The Endowment Fund is a non-profit organization that supports local scholarships, homeless students and their families, backpack and food programs. The president is Boyd Phillips. All of the proceeds go back into the programs.

In other business:

-Angela Autrey made her first appearance as an ex-officio member for the McDowell County Board of Education. She thanked the board and her peers who made it possible for her to serve as the Teacher of the Year. “I was totally speechless, and usually that never happens,” said Autrey. “I believe content is important, but what I have learned over the years is educational strategies come and go. However, the strongest one is building relationships with your students. I have watched curriculums change, testing come and go, and uniforms, and the evolution of technology. But the one thing that I have learned is that if I cannot connect with my students, I am not going to be successful in that classroom.”

-Garrett updated the board on the Old Fort project. Since the last meeting, Garrett reviewed the design and development drafts with the architect, and sat down with Old Fort Principal Jill Ward on many of the details. The building is planned for 89,000 square feet. Garrett suggested to the board and building and grounds committee to review the drawings and address any concerns or suggestions they had. Old Fort representative Patrick Ellis asked about the grant due in August. Ellis said he would like to go to Raleigh and talk to officials about the importance of getting the grant for the Old Fort community. Ellis said he asked U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows’ office on any ideas of additional grants and they are supposed to get back with him.

-Under new business, the 2018 retirement resolution was read and approved by the McDowell County Board of Education. Garrett read the names of the 34 recent retirees.

-The board approved employment for Mark Garrett’s wife, Alison Garrett, who is a teacher at McDowell High School, per House Bill 611, “an act to create an employment exception for spouses of superintendents and local school administrative units when the local board of education approves the employment.”

-Garrett gave an update on a school safety grant. Grants provided for school resource officers (SRO) in three to one funding has now been expanded to include any system to apply for grant monies for full-time SRO’s for schools that do not presently have one. He said this would add one SRO in the city and five in the county, bringing the total SRO’s from five to 11. The 2018-2019 total cost for all of the resource officers would $526,785 to add the additional six. Garrett said they have secured the commitment from the county and city to expand this program. Each grant is worth up to $50,000 per position, and the remainder will be split by a local match. In a meeting with the county and city, the MCS would pay $152,168 for 11 resources officer, the grant would cover over $200,000, McDowell County has agreed to pay $100,000 and the city of Marion will cover over $11,000 and Old Fort to cover over $2,000.

The grant has no end date. Garrett said he met with Sheriff Ricky Buchanan to see if there were enough able bodies to cover the possible open positions. The board approved a motion to apply for the grant. Only elementary and middle schools are eligible for the grants.

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