WINNSBORO — During his superintendent’s report at the first school board meeting of 2013, J.R. Green brought up the potential for law enforcement officers to be added to area elementary schools.
The increased school resource officer presence is a response to a security review conducted in the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The Newtown tragedy caused many districts to revisit security.
“Right now, the sheriff’s department is working on a plan to present to me,” Green said.
After that presentation, Green will bring options to the board. Some things being discussed are using retired sheriff’s deputies as elementary school resource officers or possibly using off-duty officers as school resource officers. Green said they hope to increase the police presence in all of the county’s public elementary schools.
The Board of Trustees of Fairfield County School District also shared collaboration that came out of a recent retreat. The top five pluses for the district, as determined in a breakout session of board members, were STEM early college magnet program, the graduation rate, academic initiatives in the district, the superintendent’s visibility and accessibility, and partnerships with Midlands Technical College.
In other business:
• Teachers from Fairfield Middle School and from Geiger Elementary School gave presentations on the one to one Google Chromebook initiative. The Google Chromebooks enable teachers to be learning facilitators and offer extended instruction opportunities in a virtual environment. Social studies and English/language arts are two areas the Chromebooks are being used in right now.
Denise Clark-Wilson from Geiger Elementary said classroom success has increased by 30 points since the initiative began. Her students read 68 books last school year but this year her students already have read 300 books with a 100 percent participation rate. “The Chromebooks already have driven the kids (to excel),” she said.
Meeting common core standards, teaching keyboarding in the classroom and using the Pixlr software application that allows students to create their own e-note cards are some of the ways the Chromebooks are making an impact. There are about 580 of the machines in the district at this time, according to Dr. Claudia Edwards, assistant superintendent of academics.
• Certified hires passed unanimously as did district certified resignations.
• The board unanimously approved $500 professional development stipends for certified personnel who are taking a course provided by Winthrop University. Title 2 funds will be used to pay for the 25 teachers to receive these stipends.
Annual board retreat
At the annual retreat, the board listened to a building project archetype presentation about potential placement and programs for a new career center, but chairwoman Beth Reid cautioned that it was a preliminary discussion.
A synopsis of pending legal matters was presented to the board by the district’s legal team. The S.C. School Board Association also gave a presentation informing the board members of what their roles are. The board also discussed a superintendent evaluating instrument, noting that they can conduct a mid year evaluation of the superintendent.
The board also discussed security updates as well as received a refresher on Robert’s Rules of Order for conducting meetings. As part of the retreat, board Reid asked each member to bring forward two wishes and two positives about the district. Those were shared during a brainstorming session. The top five wishes the board had for the district were improving on safety and discipline concerns that lead to a lack of focus on education; improvements being made to inventories and procedures in the district; avoiding PR complications, such as those related to documentation of board expenditures; providing more achievement updates; and working for facility improvements.
All members had an opportunity to voice opinions at the retreat. Reid said her goal as chairwoman is to foster an atmosphere of transparency with regard to how the board operates. She appreciated the process and discussion.
“We want to make sure that we spend tax dollars in an efficient way,” Reid said.
Board member Annie McDaniel said it was a good retreat. She requested an advisory committee be set up to review when students are being transported to DJJ.
“We should be in the business of saving children,not in the business of introducing them to the penal system,” McDaniel said.
However, the superintendent stands by the district’s current policy and no plans were made to honor McDaniel’s request for the creation of a new committee.
The next meeting of the school board will take place Feb. 19 at Kelly Miller Elementary School.