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School Board Covers Many Issues, Mentions Dangers of Trucks on Sweetwater Road

By Anne Waits
web posted January 17, 2014

JOHNSTON The Edgefield County School Board kicked off its first meeting of the year Tuesday night with two special orders of business presented by Superintendent Greg Anderson. First, in acknowledgment of School Board Appreciation Month/Week, Anderson presented each member with a small gift from all the employees of the district and congratulated them on all the hard work they do.

"I want to take the time to thank each one of you individually on behalf of the teachers, students and employees for all you do," he said. "I know a lot of people do not understand all the work you put into what you do, but I do. I've had the pleasure of attending other school board meetings across the state and I believe we have one of the best school boards anywhere and that you sincerely care about what's going on."

In the second item of business, he recognized School Board member James Bibbs for 10 years of service on the Edgefield County School Board. Anderson read a letter from the executive director of the S,C. School Board Association and presented Bibbs with a certificate and a small gift.

Under Trips and Projects for Approval, Denise Jackson of Strom Thurmond High School was granted permission to take the Mock Trial to Columbia to participate in the state competition March 7-8, 2014, pending advancement in competition.

In other business, the Dec. 10, 2013 Board Meeting Minutes, the Dec. 4, 2013 Discipline Hearing Minutes, the Dec. 11, 2013 Discipline Hearing Minutes and the Dec. 20, 2013 Called Board Meeting Minutes were approved.

Under Instructional Services, Policy JLCD, Assisting Students with Medication, was approved on second reading. Also approved was Policy JLCDB, Use of Epinephrine Auto-Injectors, on first reading.

In further items under Instructional Services, Assistant Principal Donna Strom announced that W.E. Parker Elementary and Merriwether Elementary had recently had a grant approved by the State Department of Education for at-risk students and their families.

This was following a national model and a lot of values were obtained from this model," she said.

She recognized W.E. Parker's assistant principal Derek Forrest and Merriwether Elementary's assistant principal Mandy Lowe (who was not present), as well as Ashley Hatcher, District grant coordinator, for putting the grant together.

"This grant will be worth about $321,000 and is a 30-month grant," she said.
Finally, Strom announced the District Spelling Bee on Tuesday, Jan. 21, at 3 p.m. in the District Board Room and encouraged all to come.

There were no items under Fiscal Services, but the Board gave permission to hear from Director of Fiscal Services David Fallaw on some information he wanted to share with the Board.

"I've spoken with Scott Price with the School Board Association today," said Anderson. "And with School Board consent, we can bring up something not on the agenda, as long as no action is taken."

Fallaw began by saying that as everyone was aware, Gov Haley had released  her K-12 Education Reform Initiative.

"The governor invited Supt. Anderson to a meeting with her last Thursday, and he asked me to go along with him since so much of what was being said impacted funding," he said, then laughingly added, "I  have to give him credit. I wasn't sure I might not have to sit in the car, but he got me in."

Fallaw said so often we sit back and are critical of what goes on in Columbia. "But I have to tell you, I felt a lot better coming out than I did going in. First, Gov. Haley is a very positive force in education and it was a very positive meeting. I feel that for a long time now, all we've heard out of Columbia is negative concerning education, and we need something good."

He mentioned some of the things that will take place if the plan goes through, while acknowledging that it's a big "if" because there's a lot that's not in the hands of the Legislature, those include a reading coach in every elementary school; a much larger focus on technology (he referred to what she calls "the technology divide,") and more money for districts across the state for technology; more money for charter schools (although they did not hear the word "vouchers" one time, he said); increased focus on elementary education and funding for K-5; and more money for districts that have higher level of lower-income citizens and the poorest communities.

"I thought it was a very positive meeting and I felt refreshed coming out," he said. "Whether that means we'll get more money, we'll just have to wait and see."
Anderson added that Gov. Haley has been studying this matter for a year and that she comes equipped with input from superintendents and otherwise.

"She has a lot of good ideas." he said.

Under Office of the Superintendent, Anderson introduced the new athletic director for the district, Doug Painter. A product of Edgefield, Painter graduated from Strom Thurmond High School and is the son of Jimmy and Joanne Painter. He also graduated from the University of South Carolina-Aiken.

"He comes from an honest, hard-working, giving and caring family," said Anderson.
Painter has lots of athletic experience, having served as head football coach at four high schools and served as athletic director of four different schools. he was assistant football coach and athletic director at Strom Thurmond for three years (from 2006 through 2008). He then went to Saluda for five football seasons before he decided to come "home."

I coached all sports here except volleyball," he said. "I want to make sure an emphasis is put on all athletic teams to make them as good as they possibly can be and to make sure that each and every sports program is treated fairly."

Also, Anderson talked about the Border Bowl last Friday night and the fact that six Strom Thurmond players participated. "I thought it was a well-thought-out event," he said. Several others commented that Edgefield County was well-represented.

Board member Brad Covar mentioned that even though it has been discussed before and the superintendent has written a letter to the Highway Department, he still would like to see something done about the tankers breaking the law on Sweetwater Road. He mentioned that Edgefield Chief of Police Ronnie Carter has started his own campaign, encouraging complaints from citizens who see this happen.

"It is a very dangerous road," he said.

In a final item, Anderson mentioned the District Coat Drive had been well-received and thanked those who had donated.

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