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New student mental health app, policy revisions on school board agenda


The Cumberland County Board of Education on Tuesday will consider approving the use of an app designed to support student mental health, decide the use of Gov. Roy Cooper’s one-time pre-K funds and formalize a new partnership with Cumberland County’s swift water rescue team. 

Board members will also review a 28-item consent agenda outlining school policy changes, contract renewals and funding allocation. Here’s what’s on the agenda: 

Student mental health app

The board will consider a three-year $523,041 contract with Alongside, which has created a mobile app that aims to support student mental health by offering resources like trained chatbots, journaling and mental health videos to students. Alongside is intended to supplement schools’ counseling teams and does not provide licensed medical care. In cases of severe mental health issues, the chatbot will connect students with CCS counselors during school hours, and with emergency services and resources outside of school hours. If approved, the contract will last through August 2026. 

Governor Cooper’s pre-K funding

In September, Roy Cooper approved $8 million in federal funding to assist pre-K programs statewide to be used for upgrades to direct classroom services such as equipment, facility maintenance and curriculum materials. As part of the one-time special allocation, Cumberland County Schools will work with the Partnership for Children of Cumberland County to allocate a total of $111,962.6 for the county’s 29 NC Pre-K classrooms.

Swift water rescue 

CCS will consider Cumberland County Emergency Services Swift Water Rescue Team’s use, at no charge, of Max Abbott Middle School during times of emergency to house up to 50 first responders and their equipment. If approved, the contract with Cumberland County will stay in place for the next 10 years. 

ACT prep services

Board members will consider approval of a one-year $181,927.50 contract renewal with MasteryPrep ACT to provide test preparation services to students in CCS. The program will include a “Boot Camp” program, subject-specific lesson sets and a semester-long test preparation curriculum. 

Other items on the agenda 

Board members will also consider revisions to some policies. Key changes include: 

  • Staff-student relations
    • Staff misconduct that results in dismissal, disciplinary action, or resignation now must be reported to the state Board of Education within five days of said dismissal or disciplinary action. 
  • Child abuse and threats to child safety
    • Redefines mandatory reporting of misconduct by staff to the State Board of Education including misconduct resulting in dismissal, disciplinary action or resignation. 
  • Student searches
    • Changed section requiring the search conductor and adult witness to be the same sex as the student being searched, instead of the same gender 
  • Contracts with the board
    • Added section defending installment purchase contracts and rental contracts
  • Purchasing of supplies and materials
    • Sections about surplus property service contracts were added, and perishable goods and pressing needs were added to the bid exception list 
  • Payroll procedures
    • A section offering non-year-round teachers to be paid in 12 monthly installments has been removed 
  • Non-Career Status Teachers-Renewal
    • Language in policy was changed from "probationary teacher" to "contract teacher"

CCS will also consider renewing a year-long landscaping contract with GF Turf & Landscape for $170,400 to provide sports field maintenance.

The board will also consider the approval of the low-performing schools improvement plan. Each school district must submit its improvement plans to the N.C. Dept. of Public Instruction by Dec. 8, according to CCS. 

Board members and CCS Staff will meet at 6 p.m. on Tuesday Nov 21,  at Cumberland County Schools Central Services. Read the full agenda here

Contact Char Morrison at cmorrison@cityviewnc.com.

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cumberland county, cumberland county schools, mental health, education