What is a “Basic Education” Today?

By Dr. Frank Morgan, Kershaw County School District Superintendent

Not long ago, I was talking with a community member who expressed the view that schools should focus more on “basic education.” I hear this a lot. But what is a “basic education” for students who are going to live and work long into the 21st century? (Think about it, a five-year-old student in kindergarten today will be my age, 55, in the year 2058.) Is a “basic education” the same for today’s students as it was for my generation, or my parents’ generation?

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Facilities Program going great!

Anyone in the vicinity of many of our schools would undoubtedly notice all the construction taking place.  During the past twelve months, ground was broken on seven projects that have been undertaken as part of Phase I of our Facilities Equalization Program.  An eighth project is still in the development stage.  These projects represent a tremendous public investment in the future of our school district and will help to bring our facilities up to the level necessary for the educational needs of the twenty-first century.  The bids for the projects were extremely favorable.  The School Board and the staff are extremely conscious of their obligation to manage these projects effectively and efficiently.

Following is a summary of the projects and their current status:

  • Blaney Elementary School – This project includes renovation of the entire building, a new fire lane, total replacement of the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system, a new kitchen hood, a new roof, a new front canopy, new rear canopies and a new bus canopy.  During the project, 12 temporary mobile units will be used as classrooms while the various sections of the building are renovated.  The planned completion date of the work is August, well ahead of the original schedule.
  • Camden High School  – This project includes a new auditorium, a new auxiliary gymnasium and wellness center, renovation of existing locker rooms, kitchen replacement, dining area addition and upgrades, a new student parking lot,  a new practice field, a new track, three concession/restroom buildings to serve outdoor athletic facilities and related site work.  The planned completion of the work is November 2008, and the project is on time.
  • Lugoff-Elgin High School – This project includes a new auxiliary gymnasium and wellness center, renovation of existing locker rooms,  new practice fields, a new track, three concession/restroom buildings to serve outdoor athletic facilities  and related site work.  The planned completion of the work is October 2008, and the project is on time.
  • Lugoff-Elgin Middle School –This project encompasses the construction of a 133,000 square foot middle school to accommodate 750 students.  The planned completion date is October 2008.  The planned occupancy is January 2009, and the project is on time.
  • Midway Elementary School – This project includes the demolition of the old gym, addition of a multi-purpose building that includes art and music rooms, some renovation to the existing building, replacement of existing exterior canopies, a new kitchen hood, HVAC replacement and related site work.  During this project, three mobile units are being used as classrooms while various sections of the building are renovated.  The planned completion of the work is August 2008, and the project is on time.
  • North Central High School – This project includes a new auditorium, a new competition gymnasium and wellness center, renovation of existing locker rooms, a new student parking lot, a new practice field, new tennis courts, new football stadium visitor parking, a new field house and related site work.  The planned completion of the work is November, 2008, and the project is on time.
  • Camden Middle School – This project is a school of similar design to that of the new Lugoff-Elgin Middle School, but with 148,000 square feet and a capacity of 950 students.  The planned completion date is March 2009—with occupancy in the fall of 2009—and the project is on time.

Although the site for a new Jackson School is still under consideration, design work for the project is underway.  The Board is also reviewing a recent report it received on long-term facility needs in the West Wateree area.

The excellent progress on such a large amount of construction is a credit to the work of our project management staff, which includes Ross Beard, Leroy Haskins, and Paul Teasley.  I am also extremely appreciative of the faculties and communities of the impacted schools for their flexibility and sense of humor as the construction has progressed. (The folks at Blaney, for example, have named the area where the mobile units are located “Treasure Island” and dubbed the mobile units “learning cabanas.”  You have to love that kind of ability to have some fun with a temporarily inconvenient situation!)

I’m always pleased to talk with folks about our schools.  My phone number is 432-8416 and my email is morganf@kcsd.k12.sc.us.  Citizens can also contact me through the “Ask the Super” link on the homepage of the district website.  I also invite community members to read my “blog,” which can also be reached through a link on the homepage of the district website.

More About the Budget

In a column during the fall, I discussed the issues that will impact the development of the FY 2008-09 Kershaw County School District budget. As I stated then, I firmly believe that the budget is the most important of all public processes of the school district because it determines what we can do for our young people. Too often, the process passes by without the public fully comprehending the impact of the decisions under consideration. As Superintendent, I really want the public to understand the budget. Continue reading

Moving Forward

In early December, our community experienced an unbelievably tragic event. In the early hours of a Saturday morning, a young member of our community, Michael Smith, was killed in what has been determined to be a gang-related incident. I want to express my grateful appreciation to the Camden Police Department and the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Department, and especially to Chief Joe Floyd and Sheriff Steve McCaskill, for their support in the days that followed. Their professionalism under these difficult circumstances did much to calm our students, their families, and our staff. Continue reading

What makes An Excellent School?

January 2008 – Earlier this school year, the State released Report Cards on our local schools and school district. While these should be documents of great value to parents and community members, they often do not receive much attention. Why is that? Continue reading

Comparisons Aren’t “Apples to Apples”

Would it seem fair to parents in Kershaw County if the school district decided to judge students in the West Wateree area on one set of criteria while children in Camden had more rigorous standards and students in the North Central area had even tougher criteria? Although that seems easy to answer, you might wonder why I would even pose the question. Because that represents what we have in place across our country with our current system of educational accountability. Continue reading

The 2008-09 Budget

November 2007 – As adults, we all have to live within personal budgets. Across the year, we make major decisions about how much money we spend on housing, clothing, food, utilities, transportation and other items. Of course, an increase in one area means you have less to spend in another—although that decision is something that you review and adjust as needed. Continue reading