School District One has high expectations for “Professional Learning Communities”

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During their February meeting, the Anderson School District One Board heard a presentation on a new professional learning program that administrators say “will bring student learning to the next level” and heard an update on the building program.
Assistant Superintendent of Administration and Instruction Dr. Jeff Wilson and his support team presented information on Professional Learning Communities (PLC), a professional development concept the District is embracing. Team members include Director of Secondary Education Dr. Chris Ferguson, Director of Planning & Development Tiffany Estes, Coordinator of Digital Learning Kristen Hearne and Director of Testing & Accountability Christie Shealy.
Dr. Wilson said he believes the program offers a process that will get the District, which is already doing well, “to the next level”.
According to Dr. Wilson, the PLC process includes four areas. It is an ongoing process; Educators work collaboratively in recurring cycles; It includes collective inquiry and there is action research to achieve better results for students.
Shealy said teachers work at learning with students, in a team collaborative environment. Teachers operate as team members, with shared goals and time routinely designated for professional collaboration.
Dr. Ferguson said looking through the eyes of students, there are four questions: What do you want us to know? How can we show you we know the material? What can we do if we struggle to learn? And what can we do if we already know the material?
He said the PLCs help educators establish clear learning targets, give students multiple paths to demonstrate learning, provide opportunities for success for students/reteach material using different methods and intervention programs and provide enrichment or extension acitivities that challenge sudent thinking and knowledge.
Wilson said the PLC process “is how we get there. Teachers will sit around and talk about how to get better. Teachers will work together. It makes a big difference.”
Hearne said the PLCs will focus on essential standards and how to help students move to the next level. “It is not how we taught it, but the way students are learning it,” she said.
She said it also focuses not on my student, but on “all of our students” and looks at “how to get this student to a very higher level”.
Dr. Estes said the program also focuses on a Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS). Under Act 213, the state requires screening for Kindergarten and First Grade reading with a school based team to analyze the screening data. The PLC process takes the requirement one step further and focuses on individual students and “enrichment opportunities on or above core instruction.”
Team members have visited other PLC model schools in Georgia and SC
According to Wilson, a key for District One is how to get time for the professional learning communities during a school day.
Dr. Wilson said the PLCs will be implemented in all schools in the District. Elementary and Middle Schools already have some time built into the school week where teachers can meet and engage in them. High schools will need time built into the schedule.
He suggested an early release of students, possibly on Wednesdays, on a regular ongoing basis, to allow time to be built into the schedule.
Superintendent Robbie Binnicker said, “This is really exciting. It is refreshing to have a team so dedicated to educating our students. They are committed one hundred percent to this process.” He also said he believes it will get District One to the next level.
In other business, District One Finance Director Travis Thomas reported that the Local Option Sales Tax brought in $2.7 million for Anderson County in January. District One’s share at 31.5 percent amounted to $896,000. Of that $717,000 went to capital improvements and $179,000 went to property tax relief.
The Building Fund currently has a balance of $14.7 million.
According to Superintendent Binnicker, there are five major projects still in progress related to the current Building Program that began in 2019.
He said work on the new Wren Middle School should be completed in three to four weeks.
The Powdersville High press box renovation project will start next week and should be completed in a few weeks.
The Transportation/IT Building at Spearman has just started.
A new AgEd Auxillary Building at Palmetto High will be completed soon and the roofing project at Palmetto High is ongoing.
Binnicker also presented building program summary information on each of the schools. The summary reflects savings to both the contractors and the school district as the result of having a person responsible for reviewing all projects. Savings are divided between the contractor and the district.
District wide the program saved District One $2,286,090 and had Contractor savings of $265,471.
In the Nutritional Report, Becky Brady said reimbursable meals are up by 927 meals per day, which will result in Federal government reimbursement of $180,000. New tables at Cedar Grove Elementary and Palmetto Elementary are more safe and provide “a great fresh look,” she said.
The board approved final reading amending policy JICDA-R Code of Conduct.
Board approved first reading to amend policy DJ Purchasing to include the 2022 state Procurement Code, the ASD1 Procurement Working Procedure Manual and the ASD1 Exemptions Policy for purchases. The changes reflect the state procurement codes with the exception of a slightly lower threshold for bid requirements.
Recommended were purchases up to $5000, no bid requirement; $5000 to $20,000 requires three bids, above $20,000 must go through formal quote process with advertising.
The Board also approved ten personnel and eleven administrative recommendations.

(Editors Note: This story inadvertently did not get posted to our website the week of February 24 and is being posted March 31)