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Summer school work

Posted: June 13, 2014 12:08 p.m.
Updated: June 16, 2014 5:00 a.m.

I was talking with a community member recently who asked me what we do all summer since school is out. Although summer is obviously a time that schools are closed and teachers and assistants are off, the level of activity across the school district is actually pretty intense. Preparing to open school in a district with over 10,000 students and twenty buildings with a comprehensive instructional and extracurricular program is a huge undertaking that actually begins long before the previous school year has ended.

Facilities maintenance is a huge part of summer work. Although our custodial contractor does a very good job with day-to-day cleaning during the school year, really deep cleaning—especially in terms of tile floors, gym floors, carpeted areas, locker rooms, high duct work, windows and bathrooms—has to be done over the summer. Last summer, we were able to start addressing maintenance and repairs that had been deferred during the economic downturn. More such work will occur this summer. These kinds of projects—especially painting, paving, parking lot work, cafeteria and kitchen upgrades and HVAC repair—have to be done for the most part when buildings aren’t occupied. I have to give a big "shout out" to the members of our maintenance staff who do a super job of creatively stretching funds to complete as many projects as possible within the identified budget.

Technology is also in the forefront during the summer. This year, we will be making improvements to bandwidth between all school sites, strengthening network connectivity in several schools, replacing laptop carts in elementary schools, replacing a number of teacher laptops and doing normal maintenance on approximately 3000 high school ElitePads. We will also be preparing for districtwide implementation of Google Apps for Education, which has been very successfully piloted at Lugoff-Elgin High School, to support both teacher productivity and instruction.

A huge amount of instructional work takes place every summer. This year, teacher resources for the implementation of the Common Core will be finalized. (I am particularly proud of the work we have done in this area.) Work on the Instructional Strategic Plan and preparations for our annual August Instructional Fair will be another priority. Summer is also a time for a variety of professional development workshops and classes to be offered. From my standpoint, though, the most important instructional activity of the summer has to be the in-depth conversations I have with principals and other instructional staff to review data and discuss areas of focus for the coming year. I always look forward to these conversations!

Although much of our hiring is done by mid-June, some hiring will be done in July and August. A major priority for our Human Resources staff during the summer is to prepare for new employee orientation and to help new employees make choices about their benefits. Our Human Resources folks also spend a lot of time helping new staff, especially those relocating here, to get settled in. It’s important that these new employees feel welcome and comfortable as they begin their work in Kershaw County. I am very grateful that our community is an extremely welcoming place.

With the end of one fiscal year and the start of a new one, a lot of work is required of our finance staff. Even as the legally-mandated audit of the FY 2013-14 budget is taking place—a huge undertaking—the FY 2014-15 budget also has to be loaded into the computerized finance management system. A significant number of state and federal finance reports also have to be completed and submitted. Payroll under new contracts and pay scales must also be generated. The complexity of these tasks is really hard to describe.

An added task this summer will be preparing for the November referendum for Phase 2 of the Facilities Equalization Program. I am quite proud of the way our district has worked in a very transparent way with our community to develop this proposal. I’ll be talking more about this in a future column.

So that’s some of what we do all summer! Monday, August 18 will be here before we know it!

I’m always pleased to talk with community members about our schools. The district phone number is 432-8416 and my email is frank.morgan@kcsdschools.net. Citizens can also contact me through the "Ask the Super" link on the homepage of the district Website. I also invite folks to read my "blog" and listen to the podcast I record after each school board meeting with meeting highlights. Both of these, and a whole lot more, can be accessed at on our award-winning website, www.kershaw.k12.sc.us.

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