School safety remains priority in District One

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Board to consider additional resource officers

By David Meade

Anderson School District One Board of Trustees recognized students from across the district who had a perfect score on new testing, held first reading on new overtime requirements and discussed school safety during their regular monthly meeting Tuesday.

The Board also announced that they will honor former coach and administrator Dale Martin by naming the Palmetto High Football Field for him. Martin worked in public education as a teacher, coach, administrator and board member for 34 years. He also coached Palmetto’s football team when they won the State 3A Championship in 1970.

Due to the recent shooting incident at Townville Elementary School, Superintendent David Havird told board members that he wanted to have further and open discussion on school safety, which has been a priority for the district.

Havird said additional cameras and new access doors have been installed at all fourteen schools in the district and the District office. The District is also in the process of bidding out a second project for safety and security, primarily cameras for all three football stadiums.

Harvird said the district had violent intruder drills in September.

“We have clearly reminded staff of the importance of following all safety procedures and sign-ins,” he said.

A safety letter was also sent out to parents and is posted on the district website.

“We want to do everything possible to protect our students,” he said.

Havird also said that despite all the attention school shootings across the nation have received, they still continue to happen. Havird said there have been eleven school incidents across the US this year.

He added, “Schools are safer than they ever used to be.”

Havird said he hoped there would be help with funding to provide additional resource officers, but he did not expect it.

He said the district has well trained resource officers with the sheriff’s department and police department, and well trained staff.

But added that even with resource officers, the incident at Townville Elementary would not have been stopped. “There are no easy answers,” he said.

Havird then asked the board for input on a proposal to have additiona visibility and presence of resource officers in the elementary schools in the district.

Currently there are eight resource officers who have a presence in all fourteen schools.

Havird said the District would need six more officers to provide a full time presence in all the schools.

According to the Superintendent, a resource officer will cost $50,000 to $60,000 plus benefits and may require transportation also.

Havird said “Where there is a visibility and presence of a resource officer you just don’t see shooting happen.”

Havird said the district and law enforcement agencies will need to begin planning early for budgeting, hiring and training if additional resource officers are to be added in the future.

Board members generally were in favor of increasing the presence of resource officers.

At the beginning of the meeting, students were recognized for having perfect scores on the new SC Pass test and the SC Ready test which were administered for the first time last year.

Superintendent of Instruction Jane Harrison said the tests are part of a process to get students college and career ready. “They really raised the bar on one of these tests,” Harrison said.

She said the SC Ready Test is “very rigorous” and some District One students had perfect scores on the math and ELA portions of the test.

Parents, grandparents and friends filled the board room for the recognition which included presentation of a certificate and group photo.

Finance Director Travis Thomas said the September Local Option Sales Tax payment to the District for September had come in the first of October. For September, the LOST fund balance had just under $4.5 million with $122,000 paid out in expenses.

Thomas reported the district is in good shape going into the period before tax revenues start coming in November.

He also reported that auditors are working on the annual audit which should be completed by Nov. 9 and presented to the board at their next meeting.

During her Instruction Report, Harrison noted that the Powdersville Band had placed first in Upper State and will be competing in the state competition. Wren High Band will also be in the state competition, she said.

Harrison said continued training is going on for elementary reading course teachers and middle school teachers are working and training to improve scores. Special Ed teachers in the high schools are working hard to help their students be successful, she said.

Harrison noted that because of the very rigorous test and extremely high bar set by the state, test scores for the district on the new testing had plummeted, yet were still way above the state average.

She said the new writing component was very difficult, especially for third graders. According to Harrison, the test is being reviewed to see if it is appropriate for grade 3. The testing is also done in grades 4-8.

Harrison said in District One, of more than 700 3rd grade students, only 22 scored on the test.

School Report Cards and graduation rates will be announced Nov. 15 Harrison said.

Associate Superintendent Robbie Binnicker reported the student nutrition program had served 6756 meals, approximately 100 more than last year. He also said that Cedar Grove Elementary and Powdersville Middle school nutrition program employees were enjoying new dishwashers that had been purchased and installed at a cost of $35,000. The programs are also purchasing band fruit from district bands.

First reading was held on aGDBC-R Support Staff Supplementary Pay/Overtime policy to meet federal guidelines for overtime.

The Board then went into an executive session for personnel and contract matter.