School Board recognizes students for competition achievements

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By David Meade

During their meeting Tuesday, the Anderson School District One Board of Trustees recognized several groups of students for recent accomplishments and announced that award winning theater teacher and director Will Ragland will be starting a new program at Palmetto High School.

Students at the Career and Technology Center were recognized including Codie Sloan, (Wren High School) who won best Public Service Announcement and best newscast at the national High School Radio Conference in New York City.

Also reconginzed were four VEX Robotics teams that competed in the State Tournament in Columbia. Two teams, Team 415B-ARES and Team 415C-The Black Widows, were tournament winners and will compete in the World Championships in Kentucky in April.

Team 415A-Helios was the tournament runner up and Team 415D-Techtronics was the Robot Skills Champion.

CTC Culinary Arts competition team members were also recognized. They recently were named state champions and will be going to Anaheim California to compete on the national level.

The programs are under the direction of CTC Director Hollie Harrell.

Members of the Cedar Grove Elementary Razor Rockets Jet Toy Challenge recently placed second in the state and will compete in Detroit at the international competition in April.

District One Superintendent David Havird said “They (The Career and Technology Center) are constantly doing things to force students to collaborate and partner on robotics and technology.” Team members are from all four District One High Schools, Havird said.

Mill Town Players Executive Director Will Ragland thanked the Board for allowing use of the Pelzer Auditorium for the inaugural season of the local theater production company. “We had a fantastic inaugural season,” Ragland said.

He reported the company had won first place at a state theater competition in Aiken and received outstanding set design and outstanding lighting design at a national competition held recently in Tennessee.

Ragland said the organization surpassed attendance of the Fountin Inn Youts??? program which had 6000 in attendance for their first year. Ragland said the Mill Town Players have had 6500 people attend productions so far and are expecting 10,000 when the season ends.

It was also announced that Ragland will be joining School District One and will start a theater program at Palmetto High School.

Superintendent Havird said the district will be announcing several elementary school teaching position openings. Havird said the openings are due to teachers relocating and some on maternity.

Havird updated the board on instructional fee expenditures and balances at several schools.

Finance Director Travis Thomas reported EFA and state money coming in. Fed Title 1 and IDEA money has been slow, he said. Thomas and Havird are beginning to work on the 2015-16 budget and expect to have a first draft to present in April.

At present, depending on the final state budget, the 2015-16 District One budget is expected to be based on revenues and expenditures of $62,313,619, up 2.4 percent or $1,450,644. The increase is based on an increase in the base student cost of $100 by the state.

Other revenue highlights include an expected increase in EFA of $690,000, Ad Valorem increase of $363,000 and fringe benefits increase of $359,000.

Expense highlights include a proposal to increase intstruction items funding by five percent to $52,000; an energy increase of 6.2 percent at $94,770 and water and sewer increases of $72,000. Employee step increases and raises mandated by the state are still being looked at, Thomas said.

During the instructional report, Jane Harrison, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, reported that the state department will be providing some money for e-materials. The district is using the Discovery Education Science Text book which is an all digital text book on IPads.

She said it is all interactive and allows streaming. According to Harrison the e-materials allow “hands-on real world instruction” which is aligned closely to District One standards. The program is being used in grades three through eight.

Harrison said using programs on IPads allow students to download content and use at home without having to be on the internet.

Harrison said District One is providing training, virtual labs and simulations which result in “state of the art learning.”

Robbie Binnicker, Assistant Superintendent for Administration reported the Student Nutritional Program is about $19,000 in the black, but far below where it was last year.

Binnicker said weather related snow days and Federal mandated serving sizes for fruits and vegetables is also contributing to the difference.

Havird said at some point he hopes to see the Federal reimbursement rate increased to cover the costs associated with the federal mandates for healthier eating.

“Healthy eating and additional regulations are costing more,” he said.

There was some discussion about farm to table and using local farmers to provide fruits and vegetables.

The problem, according to Binnicker, is local farmers do not have truck or shipping for regular delivery.

Havird said several school districts are looking at combined purchasing which may lower costs.

The Board unanimously approved a recommendation by the Superintendent to sign a Forestry and Timber Managment Contract for 54.25 acres located at Hwy. 81 and I85.

According to Havird, Guy Thurmond and Associates have been managing the timber on the property and they have recommended it is time to thin every fifth row. The timber should bring in $8000 to $10,000. Ten percent of the proceeds will go to the management company, Havird said.

The board also approved personnel recommendations. (See separate story)