Congratulations to Camden High School students Alyssa Buschman and Mathias Schreiner, who finished in the top 10% of all students in the state in the recent AP Biology Bowl at Clemson. Kudos also to their teacher, Mr. John Wolfe!
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
On Wednesday, April 25th, the House K-12 Education Subcommittee met and reviewed the following bills:
H.4764 (Unexcused Absences) The bill allows principals to offer course credit for students who have more than 10 unexcused absences if the student passes a knowledge based test prepared by the teacher. If the student passes the test, he/she must be reinstated in the course with all unexcused absences to date waived. After hearing much discussion and testimony, the subcommittee adjourned debate on the bill.
H.4953 (School Calendar) The bill allows a local school district board to advance the opening date of school for any school year by no more than one week. Therefore, the school year could not start earlier than the second Monday in August. After hearing much discussion and testimony, the subcommittee adjourned debate on the bill.
On Thursday, April 26, 2012, the full House Education and Public Works Committee met and reviewed Regulation Document #4198 (Accreditation Criteria). After much discussion the Committee voted to file a joint resolution to disapprove the regulation. This action, by the committee, effectively stops the clock for the regulation.
H.3235 (Freedom of Information Act) The bill received second reading as amended which makes it applicable to legislators.
H. 4610 (School Bus “Decentralization) The bill was amended to add two additional appointees. The Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tempore, in addition to their 3 other appointees, will each appoint one school finance director. Rep. Leon Stavrinakis offered an amendment to direct that a school district may not require or charge a fee to a parent or guardian of a child for access to school bus transportation to and from school. The amendment passed. The bill then received second reading and will now receive third reading on Tuesday.
S.1267(School District Choice Program and Open Enrollment Program) The bill establishes a school district choice program and open enrollment program within the public school system. It provides standards and criteria for sending and receiving schools and school districts. The amendments included:
1) Allows local school boards determine capacity for the district,
2) Eliminates establishing the Office of School Choice at the SDE,
3) Districts can receive a waiver from the State Board for an alternate implementation schedule,
4) Districts, in the process of consolidation, can receive a waiver from the State Board that relieves them from the requirements of this bill until consolidation is complete, and
5) Districts may receive a waiver from the State Board regarding the 3% cap of out-of-district students.
The Senate gave second reading to the bill. Sen. Larry Grooms amended it further by adding a student who qualifies to attend a school in a school district pursuant to Section 59-63-30, including the requirement that the student own real estate in the district that has an assessed value of three hundred dollars or more, may attend the schools within the attendance zone where the property is located without having to apply for enrollment to schools in that attendance zone pursuant to this chapter and the receiving school may not deny the student permission to enroll at the school.
S.149 (Equal Access to Interscholastic Activities Act) The bill permits home school students, Governor’s school students and charter school students to participate in interscholastic activities of the school district in which the students resides if a roster spot is available. The bill received second reading and unanimous consent to get third reading today. The bill now goes to the House for consideration.
H.3241 (Charter School Bill) The Senate voted, 39-0, to send the bill back to the conference committee over the issue of charter school students being allowed to participate in extracurricular activities. In the original conference report, the committee adopted the House version which limited participation to charter schools that are not members of the SC High School League. The Senate version of the bill had no limitation and would allow charter students to compete for and if selected, participate at their resident school if the activity is not offered at their charter school.
On Tuesday, April 24th, the K-12 Education Finance Subcommittee met and reviewed provisos; however, they have not finished and will meet again on Tuesday, May 1st. Proviso 1.80 (Education Foundation Supplement) The funds in this proviso at distributed to public school districts which would in the current fiscal year recognize a loss in the State financial requirement of the foundation program by utilizing an Index of Taxpaying Ability which imputes the assessed value of owner occupied property. The proviso was deleted out of the House budget and the Senate Subcommittee has not put it back in the budget.
Even though the South Carolina Department of Education decided to eliminate the Superintendent’s Writing Competition, through the efforts of Mr. Tim Hopkins of the District Office staff and many others, we in Kershaw County decided to continue it on our own. Congratulations to Morgan Kelly, an eighth grader at North Central Middle School, and Tierney Peterson, a fifth grader at Jackson School, who were the two winners! Special kudos to everyone who stepped in to fill the void when the state opted out!
The yearly art exhibition by the students at Lugoff-Elgin Middle School is always a “must see.” This year’s exhibition was simply outstanding! I particularly enjoyed the project involving the use of white shirts, which was really creative, and Jackson Pollock-style spaghetti painting. The “trash can percussion line” playing in front of the school was also a lot of fun. Congratulations to art teacher Holly Stiles and her students for their excellent work!!
I appreciated being invited to the Spring Instrumental Music Showcase sponsored by the Camden Music Association this past Tuesday evening. I heard some very good piano solos, in addition to the young people and adults involved in the “Strings in the Afternoon” program. I also got a big kick out ot the Doby’s Mill Rockin’ Recorders. (I actually didn’t know that there was more than one size of recorder.) The highlight and finale of the evening was a marimba solo by Zack Truesdale of North Central High School. Zack played a very complicated and nuanced piece that required him to use four mallets at once. How do you do that? A very pleasant evening of excellent music!
Five years ago, the Kershaw County School District did not have a track. Through the vision of the School Board at that time and my predecessor, Dr. Herb Berg, the necessary teps were taken to get all-weather tracks installed at each of our high schools. It was a great pleasure, therefore, for me to see regional track meets held at North Central and Camden this week. This was undoubtedly a red letter week for athletics in Kershaw County!