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Trustees to share legislative points with delegation

Posted: October 21, 2011 4:08 p.m.
Updated: October 24, 2011 5:00 a.m.

The Kershaw County Board of School Trustees developed a list last week of legislative positions to discuss with the county’s legislative delegation.

But before getting input from trustees at Tuesday’s meeting, Kershaw County School District (KCSD) Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan said a small list of three to five points would have much more of an impact than a list of several dozen issues.

“I think when you start talking three to five positions … that has a lot of impact and that’s something you can not only use for the legislative delegation but it’s also a means for talking to the community about important legislative issues to hopefully develop citizen advocacy,” he said to the board. “My advocacy doesn’t go anywhere, yours only goes but so far, it’s ultimately up to the citizens … so the fewer number of positions, the better off you are.”

Among the topics suggested were funding reform -- which includes flexibility funding and unfunded mandates -- as well as school vouchers.

Another issue board members brought up during the meeting was the possible future privatization of school buses, a point that was discussed before KCSD Director for Operations Billy Smith gave the board an update on current school bus route times. Currently, the S.C. Department of Education’s Office of Transportation is responsible for the entire state fleet of public school buses.

“The ones who get hit the worst are our special needs kids. Where they are and what programs they’re in and where those programs are located dictate the routes, and we’ve tried … every way we can to get those routes to work the best we can,” Smith said about the bus route times. “We’ve gotten most of our routes under two hours except for about eight of the 93 routes that we have. Everybody asks ‘What is the ideal route time?’ Well, the ideal route time we think would be less than an hour.”

However, Smith said, larger, 70-passenger buses in a rural county have caused the routes to last longer.

Praising the school bus administrators’ staff for its hard work, Smith said the supervisors had also been working with the state bus office and “going over things, pouring over things and trying to stay within the law” when trying to eliminate potential hazards.

In the past, Morgan told the board, S.C. school districts received funding from the state budget for “hazard stops.”

But Smith added that the KCSD allocation used to be $36,000, an amount that was trimmed to $16,000 and then completely eliminated in 2007.

“We’ve got places where kids that live more than three-tenths off of the road in (North Central), those kids would have to walk out in the dark to a property owner’s house, who has at least 12 pit bulls and Rottweilers chained to trees right by where that (school bus) stop is,” he said. “And that’s a hazard. We’ve got those cases all over. We do still have some hazards but we’ve cut 90 percent of those.”

Also during the meeting, KCSD Director for Student Assessment Lavoy Carter presented the board with a report on the school district’s English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program. The number of students enrolled in the school district’s ESOL program has grown from 118 students during the 2006-07 academic year to nearly 300 students during the current school year.

Carter told the board that ESOL students have made AYP at the district level in English/Language Arts and math for the last three years, and outperform some of the other subgroups on statewide assessments.

In other news, trustees reviewed proposed changes and updates to board policy, including changes in the new tiered evaluation system for new elementary and secondary principals, as well as revisions to the communicable diseases, staff health, health education, and prevention of disease/infection transmission board policies. The changes, which are being recommended based on advice from the South Carolina School Boards Association, will be voted on during the next board meeting.

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