Teacher of the Year

The annual “Teacher of the Year” ceremony is one of the crowning moments of the school year in Kershaw County.  It is simply a wonderful celebration of the teaching excellence in our District.  Ms. Betty Turner, Principal of Baron DeKalb Elementary School, was formally recognized as our “Principal of the Year.”  Ms. Chrystal Barker, a third grade teacher at Wateree Elementary, was recognized as our “First Year Teacher of the Year.”  And Brian Leininger, a social studies teacher at North Central Middle School, was named as our “Teacher of the Year.” 

Special thanks to Teacher Forum and to Ms. Mandy Sanders and Ms. Mary Anne Byrd from our staff for making this event so special every year.  Thanks also to the many community groups, businesses, and individuals who helped to provide the awards.  Additional kudos to the Kershaw County Show Choir, directed by Ms. Sandy Pace, for providing very enjoyable and uplifting entertainment during the program. 

And I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize this past year’s Teacher of the Year, Ms. Nicole Schnibben, an English teacher at Lugoff-Elgin High School.  She has been an outstanding ambassador and representative of Kershaw County! 

A great evening!!!

Excellent Poetry From LEHS

Some excellent poetry from the students and staff at Lugoff-Elgin High School in recognition of National Poetry Month…


Thanks To The Camden Rotary Club

Many thanks to the Camden Rotary Club for its generous contribution to the Aquaponics greenhouse at Camden High School.  Our District is truly blessed by the support of so many community organizations.  This support has helped us to sustain many programs during difficult economic times.

Legislative Update – April 26, 2013

 The Senate Finance Committee will start their budget deliberations on Tuesday, April 30th.  Next week will be extremely busy as both chambers will be trying to clear their respective calendars to beat the May 1st crossover deadline.  Bills received after May 1st can be received, read and referred to the appropriate committee but are not eligible to be taken up until the next regular session unless the bill receives a two-thirds vote to be placed on the calendar.

 H.3453 (Teacher contracts) The joint resolution extends the deadline for issuing contracts to May 15th and allows districts to uniformly negotiate the salaries of retired teachers who are not participants in the TERI program. The resolution also requires that a teacher being recommended for formal evaluation the following year be notified on or before the date the school issues the written contract.  Both the House and Senate adopted the conference report that moved the date to May 5th and allows districts to uniformly negotiate the salaries of retired teachers who are not participants in the TERI program.  As soon as it is ratified, it will go to Governor Haley, who will have five days minus Sunday, for her signature.  Even though the date extension will not help districts at this point, the salary negotiation piece will still be beneficial.  The negotiation part is also a budget proviso that has been adopted by the Senate K-12 Finance Subcommittee.


 On Tuesday, April 23rd, the House Full Education and Public Works Committee met and reviewed two bills.  The following two bills received a favorable report and are now on the House floor:

 H.3919 (Exit Exam) The bill requires all students, beginning in 2013-2014, to take the exit exam to graduate from high school; however, the student’s score may not be uses as a criterion for graduation and a student must not be required to achieve any minimum score to graduate.  The bill also creates a High School Assessment Study Committee to:

  1. Consider whether the High School Assessment Program (HSAP) test should remain the State’s accountability assessment or to replace it with a difference assessment;
  2. Suggest an alternative assessment if the committee determines that the HSAP should be replaced; and
  3. Review cost associated with a change of assessments.

The composition of the committee was amended by striking the appointments by SCASA and the School Boards Association. 

 H.3893 (Standards and Assessments) The bill requires that any new education standards and assessments adopted by the State Board of Education for use as an accountability measure must:

  1. Be developed and adopted upon the advice and consent of the Education Oversight Committee; and
  2. Not be implemented until approved by a Joint Resolution of the General Assembly.

 The House K-12 Subcommittee met on Wednesday, April 24th, and reviewed the following bills:

H.3383 (Attendance in a Public School District) The bill eliminates the provision allowing a child to qualify if he owns real estate in the district having an assessed value of three hundred dollars or more.  The bill was amended to grandfather students who currently own property in the district and received a favorable report as amended.

 H.3365 (Mental health counseling) The bill requires each public school in SC to employ a licensed school psychologist on a full-time basis.  The bill was amended with a strike and insert that establishes a School Safety Task Force that will meet and report their recommendations to the General Assembly no later than December 31, 2013.  The bill was adopted as amended.

On Thursday, April 26th, the House K-16 Building Need and Utilization Study Committee held an organizational meeting. This committee is chaired by Rep. White and consists of Rep. Kenny Bingham, Rep. Chip Limehouse, Rep. Roland Smith, Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter and Rep. Jackie Hayes. The committee will study current building regulations in K-12 and Higher Ed as well as the prospect of state school bonds.  The committee may meet the week of May 13th.

 Status of Bills in the House:

H.3853 (Alternative Education Campus) The bill allows a charter school sponsor to create an Alternative Education Campus and also dissolves the current Charter School Advisory Committee. A committee amendment changed the period for closing an underperforming school from two to three years.  The bill received third reading and will now go to the Senate.

S.10 ( Sell or lease of school property)  The joint resolution allows school districts to  sell or lease district property for the current school year without the approval of county council. The bill has been enrolled for ratification.

 H.3752 (Expanded Virtual Learning Act) The bill changes the name of the program to the SC Virtual Education Program in order to eliminate confusion between it and the Virtual Charter School Program.  It also eliminates the cap of 12 credit hours that can be achieved through the program.  The bill is in Senate Education.

 H.3725 (Safe Access to Vital Epinephrine Act) The bill allows a school to maintain a stock supply of epinephrine auto-injectors and to authorize school nurses and other designated school personnel to:

    (1)   provide an epinephrine auto‑injector to a student to self‑administer the epinephrine auto‑injector in accordance with a prescription specific to the student that is on file with the school;

       (2)   administer an epinephrine auto‑injector to a student in accordance with a prescription specific to the student on file with the school;

       (3)   administer an epinephrine auto‑injector to a student or other individual on school premises whom the school nurse or other designated school personnel believes in good faith is experiencing anaphylaxis, in accordance with a standing protocol of a physician, an advanced practice registered nurse licensed to prescribe medication pursuant to Section 40‑33‑34, or a physician assistant licensed to prescribe medication pursuant to Sections 40‑47‑955 through 40‑47‑965, regardless of whether the student or other individual has a prescription for an epinephrine auto‑injector. 

 The bill also instructs DHEC in consultation with the Department of Education to develop and make available guidelines for management of students with life-threatening food allergies.

The bill received third reading and will now go to the Senate. 


 H.3091 (Charitable Funds) The bill will exempt parent-teacher associations, local chambers of commerce, and school-related organizations and booster clubs from the provisions of the Charitable Funds Act, which requires those organizations to pay a $50 charge for registration with the Secretary of State. After much debate, the bill was amended to maintain the fine for violating the Act at $200, rather than increase it to $2000. 

 On Thursday, April 25th, the Senate K-12 Subcommittee met and adopted new provisos. Two of provisos are being sent to the full Finance Committee without a recommendation.  Please note that in proviso 1A.SCSP, located below, the department may use up to $3,500,000 of the local assessment funds to fund the proviso. 

  1.49.        (SDE: Prohibit Advertising on School Buses)  The Department of Education and local school districts are prohibited from selling space for or the placement of advertisements on the outside or inside of state-owned school buses.

 1.61.          (SDE: Student Health and Fitness)  Funds appropriated for Student Health and Fitness shall be allocated to school districts to increase the number of physical education teachers to the extent possible and to provide licensed nurses for elementary public schools.  Twenty seven percent of the funds shall be allocated to the districts based on average daily membership of grades K-5 from the preceding year for physical education teachers.  The remaining funds will be made available through a grant program for school nurses and shall be distributed to the school districts on a per school basis.  Schools that provide instruction in grades K-5 are eligible to apply for the school nurse grant program.

        1.sn.  (SDE: Salary Negotiation)  For Fiscal Year 2013-14, school districts uniformly may negotiate salaries below the school district salary schedule for the 2013-14 school year for retired teachers who are not participants in the teacher and employee retention incentive program.

 1.dim.       (SDE: Digital Instructional Materials)  Utilizing the funds appropriated for digital instructional materials, the Department of Education shall determine a per pupil amount using the prior year’s 135 ADM.  These funds shall be made available to all school districts using the following procedure:

        (1)       The Department of Education shall create a digital instructional materials list composed of those items which have been requested by districts and that have received Board approval;

        (2)       Districts may request that the State Board of Education review digital instructional materials for inclusion on the list when the material has been reviewed by the district, received approval by the local board of trustees for use in its district and been found to reflect the substance and level of performance outlined in the state adopted grade specific educational standards, contain current content information, and are cost effective;

        (3)       Within 30 days of receiving the request, the State Board of Education must approve or disapprove the district’s request.  Those materials receiving approval shall be placed on the department’s approved digital instructional materials list.  Once items are placed on the approved list, all districts may choose items from that list; and

        (4)       On a form provided by the department, a district may request an allocation by denoting the number of students, grade level, and subject for which the digital materials will be used.  Districts may only request digital materials in one subject area and may not receive textbooks for the students using digital materials in that subject area.

        District requests must be submitted to the State Board of Education for consideration not later than August 15 of the current fiscal year.  Any funds appropriated for digital instructional materials which have not been encumbered by January 15, shall be distributed to school districts which have not previously received an allocation  These districts shall receive a per pupil allocation which must be used for technology infrastructure needed to prepare the district for using digital instructional materials.  These funds shall not be subject to flexibility.

 1.sba.       (SDE: School District Activity Bus Advertisements)  School Districts may sell commercial advertising space on the outside or inside of district owned activity buses.  Revenue generated from the sale of commercial advertising space shall be retained by the school district.

 1.dpp.       (SDE-EIA: Defined Program Personnel Requirements)  Administrative positions requiring State Board of Education teacher or administrator certification, may be filled either by an individual receiving a W-2 from the hiring school district, or in the case of a charter school authorized under title 59, Chapter 49, an individual employed by an entity under contract with the school district may fill such a position.  However, if such a position in a charter school is filled by an individual that does not receive a W-2 from the hiring school district, the total compensation for the individual shall not exceed the total compensation of the highest paid individual in a similarposition at a school district of the same or lesser size of the charter school in the state of South Carolina.  If such total compensation does exceed that amount, the school’s EFA and/or EIA allocation shall be reduced by the amount which such compensation exceeds that amount specified in the previous sentence.  Compliance with this requirement will be made part of the single audit process of local public school districts as monitored by the State Department of Education. 

 The following two provisos will move forward to the full Finance Committee without recommendation:

 1.ewr.      (SDE: Early Warning Referral and Monitoring System)  For Fiscal Year 2013-14 the Department of Education, utilizing funds appropriated to or authorized for the department, is directed to enter into an agreement, not to exceed $360,000, with Beanstalk Innovation to pilot in up to five school districts (to serve between 40,000 and 60,0000 students) an early warning, identification, referral and monitoring technology for students showing signs of academic, behavioral or emotional risk.  An interim report on the results of the pilot project, including the number of students referred to and accessing academic, mental health and other services shall be submitted to the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and the Chairman of the House Education and Public Works Committee, by March 1, 2014.

 1A.scsp.    (SDE-EIA: South Carolina Success Program)  From the funds in specific appropriations Assessment/Testing, the Department of Education shall issue a request for proposal to provide a statewide South Carolina Success Program, a program to be available to all public school districts and open-enrollment charters in the State of South Carolina.  The department may use up to $3,500,000 of the local assessment funds for this program.  This program shall provide academic support to students and teachers to help ensure on grade level achievement in reading by making available for grades PreK-8 an online-delivered, interactive reading assessment and research-based intervention program for use both at school and at home.  This online program must automatically place students into an individualized on-line curriculum and instruction, provide teachers and administrators with immediate reporting, provide recommendations for interventions and teacher lessons, and provide small group instruction lessons.  The program must provide computer adaptive assessments at least eight times per year, and teachers, principals, and districts must have immediate on-line reporting to identify those students who are not reading on grade-level and those that are at risk of failing the state reading assessment pursuant to Section 59-18-310 of the 1976 Code, as amended.  The program must make available to parents reporting and resources regarding student participation via a home portal.  To ensure effective implementation of the program in conjunction with the beginning of the academic school year, the Department of Education shall issue a request for proposal to carry out the requirements of this provision no later than July 5, 2013.  Implementation of the program must begin no later than August 15, 2013.

 On Wednesday, April 24th, the Senate K-12 Education Subcommittee met to review two bills.

 H. 3229 (Student Athletes) H.3229 The bill sets up the following additional guidelines for the SC High School League:

  1. Provides a range of sanctions that may be applied to a student, coach, team or program;
  2. Guarantees that individuals and private or charter institutions are afforded the same rights and privileges that are enjoyed by all other members of the association;
  3. Sets up a third-body appellate panel;
  4. Provides for an emergency appeals procedure; and
  5. Requires that within one year after the effective date, the compositions of the executive committee must be geographically representative of the state.

The bill received a favorable report as amended with the following language in section 59-5-170:

 (2)   (a) Guarantees that individuals and private or charter institutions schools are afforded the same rights and privileges that are enjoyed by all other members of the association, body, or entity.  Individuals and Private or charter institutions schools may not be expelled or denied membership in the association, body, or entity or restricted in their ability to participate in interscholastic athletics including, but not limited to, state playoffs or championships based solely on their status as a home‑schooled individual, private school, or charter school.  The association, body or entity shall set reasonable standards for private or charter school admission.  A private or charter school denied membership must be provided, in writing within five business days, the reason or reasons for rejection of its application for membership.

(b) Guarantees that a South Carolina home school athletic team that is a member of a home school athletic association may not be denied access to preseason and or regular season interscholastic athletics, including but not limited to jamborees and invitational tournaments, based solely on its status as a home school athletic team.

 Also, in (3)(c) it clarifies the definition of guardian as follows:

 Parents, legal guardians, principals, and coaches must be able to appeal a ruling of the association, body, or entity to the panel.

S. 516 (Read to Succeed) The bill would create the South Carolina Read to Succeed Office in order to take a comprehensive, systematic approach to student reading performance.  It also requires the Department of Education to create a State Reading Proficiency Plan by 2014, which would be accompanied by reading plans created by each of the individual school districts. Districts must identify reading insufficiencies in students prior to the third grade and offer intensive in-class intervention and summer reading camps for such students, which must be conducted by reading interventionists who possess an add-on reading endorsement. In order to earn this endorsement, teachers may be required to take up five courses; administrators would be required to take two courses. Higher education institutions offering a master’s in education program with a focus on literacy would be required to offer such research-based courses, and teachers and administrators would have up to seven years to complete this requirement. Beginning in the 2015-2016 school-year, students may be held back in the third grade if they do not demonstrate proper reading ability, unless exempted for good cause. Training and support would be provided to districts by the Read to Succeed Office.  A fiscal impact summary for the bill is pending.  After an much debate, the bill received a favorable report and will now go to the full Senate Education Committee.

Bills on the Senate floor:

H.3091 (Charitable Funds) The bill will exempt parent-teacher associations, local chambers of commerce, and school-related organizations and booster clubs from the provisions of the Charitable Funds Act, which requires those organizations to pay a $50 charge for registration with the Secretary of State. Maintain the fine for violating the Act at $200.   Sen. Bryant (Anderson) has an amendment that adds Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs) to this section.  However, because of an objection to the Bryant amendment, the bill has been put on the contested calendar. The Secretary of State has granted an extension of the waiver deadline until June 15th.  The extension was granted based on a request from Rep. Harry Ott and Rep. Phil Owens.

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 debate, the bill as amended, failed by 16-27 vote because a two-thirds vote was required for passage. Senator Larry Martin moved to reconsider the vote and the motion to reconsider the vote was adopted. No further action this week.

S.521 (State Superintendent of Education) The bill allows the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint the State Superintendent of Education to a four year term. The bill received a favorable report as amended and was sent to the Senate floor.  The Senate took the bill up and it was given second reading with all amendments being carried over to third reading. The qualifications are outlined in the bill. The superintendent must have either:

       (1)   an earned graduate degree from an accredited college or university in education, public policy, or a related discipline, and must possess extensive experience in:

           (a)   the field of education, including but not limited to, service as a classroom teacher, principal, other school administrator, school district administrator, or higher education administrator, school district superintendent, or any combination thereof; or

           (b)   the formation of education policy, including but not limited to, service as a member of a school board or other entity that evaluates, develops, or approves educational policies; or

       (2)   ten years of experience as a practicing attorney. No further action this week.

 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 once a plan detailing the school choice plan is submitted to the SDE.  Sen. Kevin Bryant offered an amendment that mandates “each school district shall provide the means for a child who is primarily educated outside of the public school system to enroll on a course by course basis in a public school course in which the child would otherwise be eligible for enrollment if the child were enrolled in a public school.”  Two senators had placed objections on the bill which was holding it up on the contested calendar.  However, when they removed their names at the request of the South Carolina Education Association, the bill moved to the Senate floor for debate.  Sen. Hayes recommitted the bill back to the subcommittee for further debate which will include Sen. Bryant’s amendment.

Junior Leadership Graduation

The Junior Leadership graduation ceremony is always a special occasion.  This program, which is sponsored by the Kershaw County Chamber, is a year-long leadership development experience for students from each of our high schools and Camden Military Academy.  It’s always fun for me to watch this group grow and come together over the course of the year.  We were honored to have Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin as the keynote speaker.  I was also totally impressed with the student speakers!  Special congratulations to Dree Dubose of Camden High, who received the Robert J. Sheheen Outstanding Junior Leadership Student Award.  A big night!

KCSD In The State Newspaper

Includes some nice pictures from KCSD….


Administrative Professionals

This is the week every year where we recognize our admininistrative professionals.  The work of these folks is critically important .  They are often the first contact a member of the public has with a school or the school district.  They often have to juggle multiple tasks at the same time.  My father-in-law, who worked in school maintenance, told me when I was a principal that if I didn’t show up for work, the school would run just fine.  But if the secretaries weren’t there, things wouldn’t go so well.  He was right.  Many thanks to our administrative professionals!