Jim Smith

I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Mr. Jim Smith after a long and courageous fight with illness. Mr. Smith first came to Kershaw County after serving our country in the military as part of the first faculty at ATEC, where he also later served as an administrator. Mr. Smith’s vision and leadership in the early years at ATEC were critical to the school’s growth and development.

After retirement from ATEC, Mr. Smith served for a number of years on the Kershaw County Board of School Trustees. He was also active in the community through youth sports, rodeos, and many other areas. You could always find Mr. Smith at school fairs and other school events with his hay wagon or one of his horses for children to ride. He provided a lot of joy for countless children over the years doing this, and I believe he got as much joy as the kids did. (He once got me to sit on a bull at the Midway Elementary Rodeo…One of my favorite memories.)

During Mr. Smith’s tenure on the School Board, the District began a concerted effort to upgrade facilities and implement technology, among many other accomplishments. In working with Mr. Smith as a School Board member, I tremendously valued his straightforward honesty, his common sense, and his tremendous ability to promote discussion and build consensus. You always knew where Mr. Smith stood, but he was always willing to listen and compromise. Mr. Smith was an individual who loved this community and did much to give back to it. He will be missed by many. I will miss him a lot.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Smith’s family.

KCSD News: Families able to register stu

KCSD News: Families able to register students online with web-based system; KCSD Registration Days to be held July 26-27 [ http://ow.ly/Rv6K30dHvvX ] #myKCSD #backtoschool http://ow.ly/i/wQ4t5

All-Midlands Teams

Kershaw County was well-represented on The State newspaper All-Midlands Baseball and Softball Teams! Zac Branham and Chase Roberts from Lugoff-Elgin High and Devin Beckley from Camden High were named to the Baseball Team. Kelly Graham, Savannah Grigsby, and Bailey Douglas were named to the Softball Team. Congratulations!!

Letter About Planning For Growth

I wrote this letter, which was published in today’s Chronicle-Independent.  I believe that planning for growth in Kershaw County is a critical issue….

Now that all the budgets in Kershaw County have been adopted and we’re a year away from the next budget process, there’s merit in thinking about the budget issues facing Kershaw County moving forward.

Growth, whether it be general population growth or school enrollment growth or both, are increasing the demand for services. Kershaw County’s ongoing struggle with funding growth was seen very clearly this year, especially in the areas of public safety and education. The pressures of growth are exacerbated by the state’s failure to fund its obligations for schools and the local government fund and a highly flawed state tax structure. The state is very good at limiting how localities and school districts can raise money while at the same time fobbing off an increasing level of financial responsibility on local governments and school boards.

At one point in time, I thought the state might eventually step up to its legal financial responsibilities to schools and local governments. I don’t necessarily think that any more, although our local legislative delegation has consistently fought very hard to compel the legislature to meet its legal obligations. What is now in place now relative to state funding is probably the new normal. Therefore, making the tough decisions on how to deal with the costs of population and enrollment growth in Kershaw County will be left to local leaders. We need to understand that the long-term problem in Kershaw County won’t be solved by simply shifting costs for areas like school safety from one government entity to the other, which seemed to be the thrust of this year’s short-term fix.

There needs to be a long-term plan. It’s not in the community’s best interests to keep kicking the growth can down the road and relying on duct tape solutions. I am pleased and excited that County Council has publically committed to sitting down in partnership with the School Board to plan for meeting the costs of future growth in the schools. Since schools are a significant part of local finances, this is a great first step. Having a fiscal plan to meet the needs of population and enrollment growth will also make Kershaw County a more attractive economic development prospect, which is certainly consistent with the vision of our County’s leaders.

We need to be thinking long-term.

 

Dr. Frank E. Morgan, Superintendent

Kershaw County School District

 

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s yearly report, “Kids Count,” has been released. This year’s report shows that South Carolina ranks 39th in the nation in terms of child well-being. This is an improvement over previous years. While 39th is certainly not where we need to be, you have to be careful in terms of the statistics used in the report. They’re not always “apples to apples.”

The most significant example of this phenomenon is reading. The report states that over 60% of South Carolina third graders are reading below grade level, but this data is based on one of the most rigorous state reading tests in the country. A few years back, a report by the Thomas Fordham Foundation, a conservative think tank, indicated that a student reading below grade level based on the South Carolina state test would be assessed as reading on grade level in multiple other states.

Graduation rates are another area that can be difficult to compare. South Carolina requires 24 credits for graduation while many other states require fewer credits.

While the “Kids Count” Report is certainly interesting and useful to some degree, it needs to be taken with a grain of salt, so to speak.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE – MAY 15, 2017

                    LEGISLATIVE UPDATE – MAY 15, 2017

The adoption a state budget has not yet occurred, and the budget is now in the hands of a conference committee. It’s always a bit of a “wild card” when this happens. I’ve seen some unexpected stuff come out of budget conference committees. We’re obviously watching this very closely.

The other important educational matter that is in conference committee is the accountability legislation. There are some pretty significant differences between the two chambers.

  • The House versions specifies a very expensive product to measure student academic growth. The Senate version leaves more latitude.
  • The House version requires all 11th graders to take both a college ready assessment (like the ACT) and career ready assessment (like Workkeys). The Senate version requires a college ready assessment to be offered and requires all students to take the career ready assessment. I’m still wondering why all students need to take the ACT.
  • The House version mandates school performance ratings on a numerical scale from 0-100. The Senate version does not specify a numerical scale.

As I have said and continue to maintain, this legislation does decrease testing some, but still requires testing beyond what is required by the federal government. The numerical scale is also problematic. As I have said all along, this proposal, even with the positive revisions made in the Senate version from the original Education Oversight Committee (EOC) proposal, is still an example of education mandates coming from folks who really don’t want to hear what teachers have to say and who have structured the EOC so that educators are marginalized.

 

KCSD News: KCSD Superintendent Morgan fi

KCSD News: KCSD Superintendent Morgan finalist for SC Superintendent of the Year Award [ http://ow.ly/SZRT30bt3u5 ] #myKCSD