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Edgefield County School Board Tackles Long Agenda - Home Schooling Issue Addressed

By Anne Waits
web posted August 15, 2014

JOHNSTON   The Edgefield County School Board met Tuesday night with a number of items on the agenda in the first regularly scheduled meeting of the new school year.
At the beginning of the meeting, Edgefield County School Superintendent Greg Anderson presented School Board members with a two-page Policy and Legal Services Advisory with two pages of samples attached. "This is for your information and to let you know that the decision has been reversed by the Supreme Court as to what can and cannot be done on the agenda," Anderson told them.

Under a Special Order of Business, winners of the Scoreboard Contest were announced. "This contest was opened up some time ago for Strom Thurmond High School art students to create the design or logo to go on the back of the Scoreboard facing the highway," said Anderson.

Art Director Beth Robertson Clark announced the winners. First place winner, with a $100 prize, was Bianca White; second place winner, with a $50 prize, was Baylee Sims; and third place winner, with a $25 prize, was Morgan Spaulding.

Anderson also announced that Robertson will be doing a mural on the wall of the Board Room, paid for by donations.

During the Public Comments portion of the meeting, a parent who is home-schooling her children asked the Board to consider allowing her children to take classes necessary to participate in the FFA program at Strom Thurmond High School. This matter was addressed later in the meeting when Anderson and several Board members explained that in order to do what the parent was asking, the Board would have to approve a policy change.

The process would take several months as it would require two readings. At any rate, they would not have a decision in time for the children to participate in the classes this school year. One Board member asked if there were other schools who have done this and the parent named several other South Carolina schools. No action was taken at this meeting.

The Board approved the minutes of the June 10, 2014 Board Meeting; the July 11, 2014 Called Board Meeting; the May 14, 2014 Discipline Hearing; and the May 28, 2014 Discipline Hearing.

There were a number of items under Instructional Services. Assistant Superintendent Donna Strom asked Strom Thurmond Principal Robert Ross to introduce the course addition, "Secondary Literature I." It is a new course offering for ninth grade students that is designed to improve student achievement through vocabulary acquisition and improving reading skills to promote cross-curricular literacy. Ross described this as Step 1 of the long-term focus on literacy.

"You have already approved the leadership class," he said. "This is another component." The Board voted in favor of the new class. Secondly, the 2014-2015 Apex Digital Curriculum Course offerings were approved as additional options for virtual learning opportunities.

Next, a review of Act 155 was given which covers the procedures for seniors who did not receive a diploma due to not passing the last exam. The high school has begun to receive requests for transcript reviews. For any person who did not meet all graduation requirements except HSAP the official transcripts will be presented to the Edgefield County School Board and, upon approval, will be sent to the State Department of Education in order for the diploma to be ordered. Act 155 is retroactive to 1990.
The 2014-2015 Child Development Education Program (CDEP) Parent Handbook was presented.

Next, Policy IHBIB-Primary/Pre-Primary Education passed unanimously on second reading. Then, an updated policy EBBC-Automated External Defibrillators-was reviewed and passed on first reading.

Strom announced that the United Way Association of South Carolina through Americorps has awarded a grant totaling $72,986 for a "MB-Mentors Moving Mountains Program" at JET Middle School for the 2014-2015 school year. Strom stated that Dr. Ann Marie Taylor and Ashley Hatcher should receive special appreciation for the numerous hours they put into designing and writing this grant. Finally. under Read to Succeed Legislation-Elementary Literacy Coaches, Curriculum and Professional Development Plan, Strom announced that Edgefield County has qualified for three and a half literacy coaches and they have hired the coaches, have the curriculum in place that was asked for and a professional plan is in place for teachers involved.

Under Fiscal Services, Chief Financial Officer David Fallaw announced that the School Wellness Policy ADF would have to be updated. He called on Melissa Jackson, over Food Services, to help present the update requirement.

"In order to be in compliance with the USDA Smart Snacks Rule, we will have to tighten the canteen and a-la-carte sales in the cafeteria," said Jackson. She said it has been a lot to sift through and there are a  lot of changes to be made.

Fallaw said there really is no choice in the matter since it involves Federal regulations.
Anderson said that it will severely limit income from canteen sales, one of the ways teachers raised money for projects, and that the State plans to monitor the situation. The rule will limit what is sold in cafeterias, vending machines and outside sales from midnight to 30 minutes after school dismisses. The Board (reluctantly) approved on first reading.

Under the Office of Superintendent, Anderson said on an update of the AdvancED Accreditation Status, all qualifications have been met and it is now accredited. He also announced that diploma covers are in.

For an update on technology, he turned to Jim Jackson who has been working on a Pilot Program for the District over the summer at Merriwether Middle School. Jackson said this technology integration is to help overburdened teachers to use their classroom time more efficiently and to help students with resources and a better learning environment. Their second priority, he said, is to use available resources through 1. Google Apps for Edu-Cloud Storage 2. Linus-on old machines 3. and acquiring more equipment through other sources such as auctions for computers. He talked about Cloud Environment, promoting more App usage, online quizzes/homework, promoting use of Internet resources, Google Apps for learning and YouTube for education. He said he feels they have accomplished the first line of defense including a new Merriwether Middle School Website; rescued computers and Google Apps; and a lab makeover. The district has already updated its policy on BYOD (bring your own device).

Anderson stated that five teachers volunteered for the program and the district has been trying to find out all the information they can on technology and ways to save money.

"We do need an audit if the state of our technology is able to exist right now," he said. "I do know we're in bad shape when it comes to software and hardware."

An Athletic Department Update was given by Doug Painter, athletic director.
He stated they are bringing back girls tennis and have everything ready to go; all the football slots are filled for the first time since 2005; the communication process is updated; they have been signed on by Adidas with huge discounts--will have all Adidas uniforms this year except for football; and Mr. Northrop has started a new program this year where a female will come in from GRU to tech sports medicine in all sports.

Dr. Ross gave a Strom Thurmond High School Update.He said his goals include providing optimal learning experiences and creating the best possible learning environment. He plans to establish the importance of reading in the first phase of a long-term plan. He wants the school to promote safety and academic rigor, and to be part of a team.

He also plans to increase the radio range for the personnel parking lot; to implement the "Student of the Month" award and the "Above and Beyond the Call of Duty monthly award; to establish student exploration assistance scholarships for senior class; to pay for guest speakers throughout the year; to honor STHS alumni to be selected in the Strom Thurmond Hall of Fame through a committee of two Board members, three teachers, two administrators, a student body president and a community member; to implement marketing; and to establish a school slogan of "Stick to the Task."

In a final note, the School District wished to publicly thank the sponsors of the camp hosted by Coach Antwaun Hillary. This allowed the camp to be free to all who participated. A total of 52 participated this year. Sponsors include: Edgefield Fuel & Convenience; Monks Corner BP; Greg Anderson; Doug Painter; Sleeper Recruit; Mathis Lawn Maintenance; Barrett Auto Sales; Edgefield Water & Sewer; Barnes Used Cars, and an anonymous donation.




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