Doby’s Mill Named A National Finalist

I was extremely excited to learn that Doby’s Mill Elementary had been named a national finalist for recognition as a “School of Character.”  Doby’s Mill and its community have done a truly exemplary job of fostering character development within the school’s program.  A well-deserved honor!


Really enjoyed being interviewed yesterday by WPUB’s Patty Rose for the Truvista program, “Dishing the Issues.”  Special thanks to Kirk Mays of KM Productions for making this opportunity to talk about our school possible.

Director of Operations Billy Smith also had a great time Wednesday evening talking with the folks at Lyttleton Street United Methodist Church about Phase II of the Facilities Equalization Program.  An excellent meal (you can’t beat pancakes!) and wonderful fellowship!

Betty Turner Recognized

Special congratulations to Baron DeKalb Elementary Principal Betty Turner, who was a finalist for the State Reading Administrator of the Year.  Betty was recently recognized as the Kershaw County Reading Administrator of the Year.  These are well-deserved honors!  Betty has done a super job with literacy at Baron DeKalb!

Celebrating The Arts

Just saw the program for the “Celebrating the Arts of Kershaw County” program that will be held this coming Thursday evening at Lugoff-Elgin High School.  The program will include a visual arts exhibition in the gym from 5:30-6:30 p.m., followed by music and dance presentations in the auditorium starting at 6:45 p.m..  This is going to be a great event!

State Superintendent Visits Kershaw County

We were honored to have Superintendent of Education Dr. Mick Zais visiting our District this past Friday.  Dr. Zais spent time at Pine Tree Hill, Jackson, ATEC, and North Central Middle, where he talked with principals and toured the schools.  Students in the Culinary Arts class at ATEC did a super job of preparing and serving lunch!  I deeply appreciate Dr. Zais taking time from his very  busy schedule to spend time in our schools. 

Story about the visit from WLTX:

Legislative Update – February 22


Yesterday, the Ways and Means Committee adopted the 2013-2014 state appropriations bill.  The House budget process will continue for the next few weeks. The appropriation bill will be printed Feb. 26-28.  The following week, March5-7, the printed budget is placed on each House member’s desk for their review.  Finally, the House floor deliberations will begin the week of March 12-14.  Once the budget is completed in the House, we start the entire process over in the Senate.

The following provisos were adopted:

1.64 (Impute Index Value) The proviso was changed to update the fiscal year reference to 2013-14, meaning imputation will continue.

1.70 (EFA-IDEA Contingency Reserve) The proviso was amended to update the fiscal year reference to 2013-14, meaning the $36,202,909 allocation will still be distributed using the current IDEA methodology.

1.71 (Lee County Bus Shop) Proviso was deleted that required SCDE to continue the bus shops operations.

1A.33 (Incentive for National Board Certification) Suspends salary supplements to any new applicants.

1A.36 (SDE-EIA Carry Forward) Sets aside $1,000,000 of SDE’s carry forward funds to EOC for innovative reading partnership.

1A.43 (Teacher Salaries/SE Average) Stipulates that the minimum teacher salary schedule will be the same as currently in use. Requires all districts to provide one step increase to eligible certified teachers and deletes waiver language.

1A.CERRA. (SDE-EIA:   XII.F.2 – CHE/CERRA)  The Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement (CERRA South Carolina) must review the list of schools eligible for receiving Teaching Fellows Program scholarships to ensure all schools currently on the list of eligible institutions shall meet the necessary criteria as set forth by CERRA. Further, CERRA is directed to add any public institutions that currently meet the criteria so that they may admit students receiving a Teaching Fellows scholarship.

1A.EIA. (SDE-EIA: XII.A.1 – Aid to Districts Draw Down)  For Fiscal Year 2013-2014, in order to draw down funds appropriated in Part IA, Section I, XII.A.1 – Aid to Districts, a school district must work with local law enforcement agencies, and when necessary, state law enforcement agencies in order to ensure that the district has an updated school safety plan in place. The safety plan must include safety directives in the classroom, a safe student and staff exit strategy and necessary safety staff. Notice of completion of the updated plan must be submitted to the Department of Education no later than September 1st, 2013. The department must report to the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the Chairman of the House Education and Public Works Committee, the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee any districts that failed to submit an updated plan by September 30th, 2013.

1.SDE. (SDE – District Funding Flexibility) For Fiscal Year 2013-14, districts must utilize funding flexibility provided herein to ensure that district approved safety precautions are in place at every school. (SDE-EIA: XII.F.2-CERRA/Teaching Fellows) The additional funds provided to CERRA in the current fiscal must only be used to support the Teaching Fellows & Teacher Cadet programs.

117.29. (GP: School Technology Initiative)  From the funds appropriated/authorized for the K-12 technology initiative, the Department of Education, in consultation with the Budge and Control Board’s Division of State Information Technology, the State Library, and Educational Television Commission shall administer and determine the method of allocation of the K-12 technology initiative funds.  A portion of these funds shall be used to assist school districts in providing the most cost efficient and effective delivery of technology to the school districts of the state, assist in the effective use of technology in K-12 public schools throughout the state, conduct cost/benefit analyses of the various technologies to include the required bandwidth required to deliver computerized based assessment statewide, and should, employ collaborative efforts withpublic-private sector involvement to include, to the extent possible, private entities specific to various geographic regions of the state when determining the most effective use of these funds.  The School Technology Initiative shall survey the school districts of the state to determine their most pressing technology needs and shall assist districts in locating the most cost effect method formeeting those needs. K-12 technology initiative funds shall be retained and carried forward to be used for the same purpose.

On Wednesday, February 20th the House Education and Public Works K-12 Subcommittee met to consider a number of State Board Regulation Documents. The following documents were all related to antiquated building codes and were passed by the subcommittee.

Document R4303 – State Board of Education: Buildings and Grounds Management – Cleaning Program

Document R4304 – State Board of Education: Buildings and Grounds Management – Defined Minimum Program for SC School District

Document R4305 – State Board of Education: Buildings and Grounds Management – Heating and Lighting

Document R4306 – State Board of Education: Buildings and Grounds Management – Fire Prevention
Document R4307 – State Board of Education: Facility Specifications

The subcommittee raised concerns over technicalities in the following regulation documents. These will be addressed at next month’s State Board meeting and re-submitted to the subcommittee at a later date.

Document 4308 (R 43-220) – State Board of Education (Gifted and Talented) The regulation was amended to reflect changes in terminology, best practices, and accountability.

Document 4309 (R 43-601) – State Board of Education (Procedures and Standards for Review of Charter School Applications) The regulation sets forth the standards for the review of charter school applications.  The regulation was amended to require that charter schools submit annual audits to their authorizer and that academic performance becomes the most important factor to consider for renewing or revoking a charter.

Document 4294  (R.43-234 )State Board of Education(Defined Program, Grade 9-12 and Graduation Requirements) It amends R.43-234 to clarify the regulation for high school graduation.  It also clarifies the correct end-of-course examination for science.  The regulation also clarifies the use of proficiency credit for all schools.

Document 4261 Regulation (R 43-259)- State Board of Education  (Graduation Requirements (Adult Education) Regulation 43-259 provides guidance to school districts and other eligible adult education providers.

Document 4285 43-273  (Transfers and Withdrawals) Amends 43-273 to expedite the transfer of students records to ensure individual students are properly transferred and schools are accountable for students attending their school.

Also on Wednesday the subcommittee gave a favorable report to H.3472 (Private Schools)  The bill eliminates a waiting period of twelve months for a private school that has converted into a charter school so long as it reflects the racial composition of the local school district in which the school is located.

The House Education and Public Works committee also met on Wednesday, February 20th and took up two pertinent bills, H.3229 (Student Athletes) and H.3472 (Private School Conversion).

 H.3229 creates the Division of Interscholastic Athletics within the Department of Education. Rep. Andy Patrick introduced an amendment to the bill that would make this an office instead of a division, and would serve under the State Board of Education. The amendment also gave the office authority to collect fees in a fashion “similar to that of the South Carolina High School League.”  It also allows private and charter schools to have the same rights and privileges of a traditional public school. The amendment was passed by a vote of 12-6. A vote was then taken on the bill in its entirety to send it to the House floor for debate and passed by a vote of 12-6.

Ayes: Reps. Owens, Daning, King, Norman, Patrick, Putnam, Rivers, Stringer, Taylor, Wells, Willis, Wood

Nays: Reps. Brown, Branham, Brannon, Felder, Govan, Mitchell 

H. 3472 (Private School Conversion) As previously stated in the subcommittee report, H.3472 eliminates the twelve month waiting period for a private school to convert into a charter school so long as it reflects the racial composition of the local school district in which the school is located.

On Tuesday, February 19th, the House Judiciary Committee met and heard testimony of H.3163 (Freedom of Information Act) The amended bill will require organizations to maintain a fee schedule to be posted online. The fee shall be based upon the hourly salary of the lowest paid employee that has the necessary training to fulfill the request and allows for a deposit 25% of the total cost. In addition, the amendment will lower the period for notification from 15 days to 10 days (excepting weekends and holidays) and full response to 30 days from the original request. However, for materials more than 24 months old the amendment allows for an additional 45 days.  After much discussion, the committee adjourned debate on the bill.

H.3147 (Workers’ Compensation) The bill modifies the requirements of an employee seeking workers’ compensation for personal injury caused by stress, mental injury or mental illness. It adds mental illness to related conditions that are not compensable if resulting from an event incidental to normal relations between an employee and employer.  The subcommittee reported the bill out favorably as amended.



On Tuesday, February 19th, the Senate Judiciary Committee met to review S.53 (Superintendent of Education).  The joint resolution proposes a constitutional change by deleting the Superintendent of Education from the list of state officers required to be elected.   If in the next general election, the amendment was adopted, the governor would then appoint the state superintendent upon the advice and consent of the Senate.  After much discussion, the motion was made to recommit the bill to subcommittee, but the motion failed by a vote of 5-14.  The bill has been sent to the Senate floor.  Sen. Kevin Johnson placed a minority report on the bill.

The K-12 Education Subcommittee will meet on Thursday, February 28th, to review the following bills and one regulation:

Document 4325 – State Board of Education (Assisting, Developing and Evaluation Professional Teaching (ADEPT)

S.158 (Driver’s License Suspension) The bill suspends the driver’s license of a student who is at least fifteen but less than eighteen who has accumulated ten or more unlawful absences, been expelled or dropped out of school.  The schools will be required to electronically notify the State Department of Motor Vehicles of any student that falls into the three categories mentioned above.  The Department of Motor Vehicles is required to notify the student of the suspended license.  After much debate, the subcommittee carried the bill over to receive further information.

S.291 (First Steps Initiative) The bill amends the Code of Laws of South Carolina by adding a section that defines terms concerning the First Steps to School Readiness Initiative.  It also stipulates that the First Steps Board of Trustees shall develop a comprehensive long-range initiative and strategy for school readiness. The bill was carried over to the next subcommittee meeting.

S.313 (School district choice program and open enrollment program) S.1267(School District Choice Program and Open Enrollment Program)  The bill establishes a school district choice program and open enrollment pilot program within the public school system with full implementation by 2015-2016.  School districts who have a school choice plan in place that provide students and parents with choice options within the district are exempt one a plan detailing the school choice plan is submitted to the SDE.

S.362 (Instructional Resource (eTextbooks) This bill changes the definition of instructional resources and allows may opt out of the state rental purchase system and purchase directly from a vendor who has an approved state contract.

Phase II Meetings

Over the past two months, our Director of Operations, Billy Smith, and I have met with the School Improvement Councils of the schools that would be impacted by Phase II of the Facilities Equalization Program.  We used these sessions to talk about options under consideration and issues that would be important to a successful referendum.  These were really productive conversations!  We gained a great deal of perspective and a lot of good ideas!  I appreciate all the folks that took time to talk with us!