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BDK is small school with a big heart
Also, school board hears proposed policy revisions
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Karen Fitzgerald Jackson doesn’t want to see her grandchildren’s school close. That remains a possibility as part of proposed Phase 2 options in the Kershaw County School District’s facilities equalization plan.

Fitzgerald, the grandmother of 5- and 8-year-old Baron DeKalb (BDK) Elementary School students, spoke during the Kershaw County Board of School Trustees’ meeting Tuesday, which served as the second of two public hearings on a possible Phase 2 bond referendum.

“I have been an active grandparent, volunteering often at BDK,” she said. “I have come to know the principal, secretary, cafeteria workers and teachers. In my opinion, the staff at BDK lives up to its vision which is ‘A small school with a big heart where everyone excels.’”

Jackson praised BDK’s staff in its closeness to all students.

“The staff genuinely cares about the students,” she said.

She noted the school has grant-funded after school programs that offer students extra academic help. Jackson also listed the various awards and prestige the school has collected over the years.

“Baron De Kalb is an excellent school,” Jackson said, “and I am thrilled that my grandchildren are receiving a strong positive beginning to their educational career … in a small, personal environment … Baron DeKalb is a beacon of learning for students and treats her students very well. Please repair Baron DeKalb as was recommended nine years ago. That school has a heart.”

In new business, KCSD Director for Communications Mary Anne Byrd explained several proposed policy revisions. The suggested policies are ones that need updating or implementing for the 2014-15 school year as recommended by the S.C. School Boards Association and administration’s input. Byrd said she was “not asking for a vote,” but just wanted to present them to board members. She suggested that the board be prepared to vote on the policies at its next meeting.

The proposed revisions are:

• Policy JLCDB -- use of Epinephrine Auto-injectors to allow schools to maintain a stock supply of epinephrine auto-injectors in accordance with a prescription issued pursuant to the Safe Access to Vital Epinephrine Act. A plan to manage the administration of the epinephrine auto-injectors would also be in place. Byrd said that epi-pens were removed last year due to state law, but that the state had recently changed that to allow districts to decide for themselves whether epi-pens would be available for trained staff to use in necessary cases.

“Our nurses and principals think this is an important tool that they would like to have back at their disposal,” Byrd said. She said students requiring the use of epi-pen would have to provide prescription documentation.

Trustee Louis Clyburn said he thought epi-pens would be especially appropriate at football practices and games due to the prevalence of fire ants.

• Policy IHBB -- Gifted and Talented Education to reflect updates in terminology, best practices and accountability to adhere to changes in State Board of Education regulation 43-220. “This policy helps us get in line with new state board regulations and brings into our criteria our eligibility for how we deliver the gifted and talented education,” Byrd said. She said there were specific words in the current policy that would need to be removed along with some words that would need to be added.

• Policy IJNDAA, Expanded Virtual Learning Act -- to reflect a change in state law that removes credit limitations for online classes for students in grades 7-12. “There used to be a ceiling on the number of credits students could apply to online classes. This takes that ceiling off. There’s no maximum level now,” Byrd said.

• Policy JFAB, admission of non-resident students -- to include that out-of-county students must attend school in the zone in which their Kershaw County property is located and to also include a citation of a S.C. Supreme Court decision. “We were mindful there was a need to clarify … when students do come in and attend who are out of county who are coming in by virtue of owning property in our district that (it) clarifies that they would attend the school in which their property is located. It’s not up to them to choose which school in our district they’ll attend,” Byrd said.

In a related matter, Board Chair Mara Jones asked whether there are currently any students attending district schools on tuition. KCSD Superintendant Dr. Frank Morgan confirmed there currently are not any students doing so, and said that type of situation occurs “on very isolated circumstances.”

• Administrative rule JIC-R -- student code of conduct and exhibit discipline referral form JIC-E to include students at the bus stop as applicable to conduct code and e-cigarettes in the category of unauthorized substances (Level II offense). Byrd said there were two recommended additions to this code. “The first one being that student behavior at the bus stop is under what we consider appropriate behavior for us, so that’s when your behavior starts is at the bus stop.” Byrd said this was an issue that needed clarification.

The second issue under code JIC-R was to clarify the use of e-cigarettes. “We want to be clear to our parents and families that we are not allowing the use of e-cigarettes,” Byrd said. She also said that e-cigarette use would be treated similarly to tobacco use by a student.

In other news, the board:

• heard an update of education legislation;

• discussed the district’s proposed FY 2014-2015 budget; and

• further discussed Phase 2 proposals.