Stories From Fifth Graders

In February, I spent a very enjoyable hour with fifth graders in Ms. Teri Reno’s class at Doby’s Mill Elementary working on the start of a story for which each student would write an ending.  I sat down yesterday to read what the students had written and was absolutely blown away with the quality of the writing, not to mention the imagination and creativity.  Kudos to Ms. Reno and everyone at Doby’s Mill who has worked with these kids over the past six years.  This doesn’t just happen.  Wonderful writing by any measure!!!

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE – MARCH 27, 2015

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

On Tuesday, March 24th, the K-12 Subcommittee met to address the following items:

H.3775 (Snow Days Greenville) provides that Greenville County School Board may exempt five or fewer days missed due to inclement weather in February 2015.  The joint resolution was amended to apply to all schools in the state.  The joint resolution was reported favorably by the committee.  It was then recalled from the House Education Committee to the full House where it received second reading on Thursday, March 26th, and was schedule for third reading.

H.3390 (Sign Language Interpreters) requires a score of 4/7 or higher on the ‘Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment’ for sign language interpreters used by certain entities of state government, public schools, and hospital systems, and to provide sign language interpretation services to members of the public who have certain hearing and speech impairments.  The bill was carried over until the next meeting of the K-12 subcommittee.

H.3539 (Civics Bill) requires students to take the US Citizenship Test as part of their ½ credit Government course.  The bill also requires that the percentage of students making a passing grade test be reported by the Education Oversight Committee on the district’s report card. The bill was reported favorably by the committee.

On Wednesday, March 25th, the Full House addressed the following bill:

H.3041 (Superintendent Appointment) removes the Superintendent of Education from the list of elected officers and makes the office an appointment of the governor, as well as setting forth requirements to serve as Superintendent of Education and means for removal.  The bill was approved on second reading, but was then recommitted to the House Judiciary Committee.

SENATE

On Wednesday, March 25th, the Senate Education Committee addressed the following regulations and voted to return them to the Department of Education for changes conforming to the Education Accountability Act:

Document Number: 4529 – Assessment Program
The State Board of Education (SBE) proposes to amend Regulation 43-262. This regulation delineates requirements for assessment programs managed by the Office of Assessment. Amendments are being proposed to merge language from Regulations 43-260 and 43-262.4 into this regulation so that regulations governing assessments are in one regulation. Duplicative language resulting from merging the three regulations is deleted. In compliance with Section 59-18-310 of Act 155 that states that “students are no longer required to meet the exit examination requirements to earn a South Carolina high school diploma,” references to passing an exit examination as a condition for receiving a South Carolina high school diploma have been deleted.

Document Number: 4530 – End-of-Course Tests
The State Board of Education (SBE) proposes to repeal Regulation 43-262.4, End-of-Course Tests. The requirements of this regulation are to be merged with Regulation 43-262, Assessment Program.

Document Number: 4532 – Use and Dissemination of Test Results
The State Board of Education (SBE) proposes to repeal Regulation 43-260, Use and Dissemination of Test Results. The requirements of this regulation are to be merged with Regulation 43-262, Assessment Program.
Document Number: 4531 – Test Security
The State Board of Education (SBE) proposes to amend Regulation 43-100. Test Security. This regulation defines test security violations.

Also on Wednesday, March 25th, the Senate Education Committee addressed the following bill:

S.533 (Teacher Employment and Dismissal) amends the “Teacher Employment and Dismissal Act of 2015” so as to change the deadline to before May 1 for issuing teacher contracts.  It also amends sections relating to notices of dismissal and conduct of related hearings, so as to provide that the board may utilize a designee who must be a lawyer admitted to the South Carolina Bar and certified as a Mediator in South Carolina.  It provides that this designee serves on behalf of the board with duties of evidence gathering and determination of admissibility of specific testimony in accordance with the law.  The final determination in termination is still up to the board.  This bill also amends sections relating to the scheduling of teacher dismissal hearings to extend the period for scheduling a hearing to forty-five (45) days, and to provide that hearings are quasi-judicial, and to permit the use of hearsay evidence in certain circumstances.  Also amends the statute to reflect that appeals from the board will go to the administrative law court. This bill received a favorable report but a minority report was placed on it from one member.

On Thursday, March 26th, the Senate K-12 Education Committee addressed the following items:

H.3787 (Snow Days York County) provides for the waiver of two or fewer days that schools in York County closed in February 2015 due to inclement weather.  This Joint Resolution was carried over.

H.3844 (Snow Days Greenwood 50, 51, 52) provides for the waiver of two or fewer days for schools in Greenwood School District 50, Greenwood School District 51, and Greenwood School District 52 that closed in February 2015 due to inclement weather. This Joint Resolution was carried over.

H.3861 (Snow Days Pickens County) provides for the waiver of one day that schools in Pickens County closed in February 2015 due to inclement weather. This Joint Resolution was carried over.

S.508 (CDV in Health Education) amends the Health Education standards to add the subject of Domestic Violence and healthy family relationships beginning with the 2016-2017 school year. This bill was carried over.

Also on Thursday, March 26th, the Senate Finance Education Proviso Subcommittee met to discuss budget provisos for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.  In this meeting the subcommittee carried over proviso 1.3 which funds the base student cost at $2,220.  The subcommittee members stated they wanted to examine the available revenues for the upcoming year’s budget and would possibly amend the proviso to conform to the availability of funding. In the meeting the subcommittee approved the following provisos:

1.20. (SDE: School Bus Purchase)  any procurement of school buses must meet the specifications developed by the School Bus Specification Committee as established by the State Superintendent of Education.  Strikes references to Georgia and North Carolina and adds reference to another state with regards to identifying bus specifications which are, “safe, more economical, and in the public interest.”

1.28. (SDE: School Districts and Special Schools Flexibility) All school districts and special schools of this State may transfer and expend funds among appropriated state general fund revenues, Education Improvement Act funds, Education Lottery Act funds, and funds received from the Children’s Education Endowment Fund for school facilities and fixed equipment assistance, to ensure the delivery of academic and arts instruction to students.  However, a school district may not transfer funds allocated specifically for state level maintenance of effort requirements under IDEA, funds allocated specifically for state level maintenance of effort requirement for federal program, funds provided for the Education and Economic Development Act, funds provided for Career and Technology Education, nor  required for debt service or bonded indebtedness.  All school districts and special schools of this State may suspend professional staffing ratios and expenditure regulations and guidelines at the sub-function and service area level, except for four-year old programs and programs serving students with disabilities who have Individualized Education Programs.

1.67. (SDE: Summer Reading Camps) For the current fiscal year, funds appropriated for summer reading camps must be allocated as follows: (1) up to twenty percent to the Department of Education to provide bus transportation for students attending the camps; (2) $700,000 allocated to the department to provide grants to support community partnerships whereby community organizations would collaborate with local school districts to provide after school programs or summer reading camps that utilize volunteers, mentors or tutors to provide instructional support to struggling readers in elementary schools that have a poverty index of fifty percent or greater. The Education Oversight Committee will document and evaluate the partnerships and the impact of the partnerships on student academic success and make recommendations on the characteristics of effective partnerships and on methods of duplicating effective partnerships throughout the state; and (3) the remainder on a per pupil allocation to each school district based on the number of students who scored Not Met 1 on the third grade reading and research assessment of the prior year’s Palmetto Assessment of State Standards administration. Summer reading camps must be at least six weeks in duration with a minimum of four days of instruction per week and four hours of instruction per day, or the equivalent minimum hours of instruction in the summer. School transportation shall be provided. The camps must be taught by compensated teachers who have at least an add-on literacy endorsement or who have documented and demonstrated substantial success in helping students comprehend grade-level texts.

1.88. (SDE: Teacher Certification Exemption) For the current fiscal year, a teacher certified at the secondary level may teach such courses at the middle grades level without having the add on certification for middle-level education. Districts must report to the Department of Education and the Center for Educator Recruitment Retention and Advancement on the teachers and courses that utilize this exemption.

1.89. (SDE: Digital Instructional Materials) The Department of Education shall create an instructional materials list composed of those items (print and/or digital) that have received State Board of Education approval through the normal adoption process . The department shall continue to work with the publishers of instructional materials to ensure that districts who wish to receive both the digital version and class sets of textbooks may be awarded that option. Funds appropriated for the purchase of textbooks and other instructional materials may be used for reimbursing school districts to offset the costs of refurbishing science kits on the state-adopted textbook inventory, purchasing new kits from the central textbook depository, or a combination of refurbishment and purchase. The refurbishing cost of kits may not exceed the cost of the state-adopted refurbishing kits plus a reasonable amount for shipping and handling. Costs for staff development, personnel costs, equipment, or other costs associated with refurbishing kits on state inventory are not allowable costs. Funds provided for Instructional Materials may be carried forward from the prior fiscal year into the current fiscal year to be expended for the same purposes by the department, school districts, and special schools. These funds are not subject to flexibility. Digital Instructional Materials shall include the digital equivalent of materials and devices.1A.38

1A.63. (SDE-EIA: Public Charter School District Hold Harmless) For Fiscal Year 2014-15 2015-16, the South Carolina Public Charter School District must use up to $3,000,000 in prior year carry forward funds to hold its schools harmless from any reduction in funds as a result of changes to the EFA weightings in the current fiscal year.

Several notable provisos were carried over until the next meeting which is scheduled for Wednesday, April 1st.  The committee stated that they wanted to examine the available revenues before passing a number of provisos.  These provisos include:

1.3. (SDE: EFA Formula/Base Student Cost Inflation Factor) Increases the base student cost to $2,220.

1.90. (SDE: Teacher and Principal Evaluation Exemption) To promote candid feedback for continuous improvement of teaching and learning, for the current fiscal year, records relating to educator evaluation that include personally identifiable information are exempt from disclosure under Chapter 4 of Title 30 of the 1976 Code.

1A.39. (SDE-EIA: XII.C.2. Teacher Salaries/SE Average) The projected Southeastern average teacher salary shall be the average of the average teachers’ salaries of the southeastern states as projected by the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office. For the current school year the Southeastern average teacher salary is projected to be $48,892 $49,796. The General Assembly remains desirous of raising the average teacher salary in South Carolina through incremental increases over the next few years so as to make such equivalent to the national average teacher salary.
The statewide minimum teacher salary schedule used in Fiscal Year 2012-13 will continue to be used in Fiscal Year 2014-15 2015-16.

Mechatronics Coming

I am excited that a mechatronics program will be started at ATEC next year. In this program, students will learn to diagnose, repair, install, and service electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, and electromechanical systems. Individuals with these skills are in great demand in the manufacturing sector.  Thanks to Chet Horton and John Thompson over at ATEC for the work they’ve done to prepare a lab area for this course.  It’s looking great!!

KCSD News: Parking area directly behind

KCSD News: Parking area directly behind LEHS football stadium to be closed off [ http://ow.ly/KTzoP ]

Three On Three At The CLC

Congratulations to the students and staff at the Continuous Learning Center (CLC) for staging a 3 0n 3 basketball tournament to raise funds for the Community Playground.  Great event!  It was also fantastic to see so many parents and family members there to support the students.  Kudos to everyone at the CLC!

Great News For Stover!!!

Congratulations to the Stover Middle School Archery Team for finishing 4th in the state yesterday in Sumter.  Congratulations also to the Stover Band for earning a “Superior” rating at Festival yesterday.

A big week for those Tigers!!

 

A Big Day For Kershaw County!!

I was pleased and proud to learn that the Camden Middle Band earned a “Superior” rating at the Middle School Festival today. I also had the opportunity to hear the Lugoff-Elgin Middle Band perform. They did a great job too!

Also excited to hear that the Blaney Archery Team finished second in the state today over in Sumter!