By David Meade
The Anderson School District One Board heard an update on the bond sale and building program, approved second reading on policy related to a drug and alcohol free workplace, tobacco and alternative nicotine use and enforcement and first reading on student absenses and work makeup requirements.
The Board also heard a presentation by a former District One Principal, Dr. Mason Gary. Gary has produced a book about the formation of the Freshman Academy at Palmetto High School, which he oversaw as principal of the school. Dr. Gary said he put to words the concept of the freshman academy process, which he said was instrumental in improving the graduation rate at Palmetto High. The freshman academy was the first in South Carolina, and one of the first in the nation. The book, entitled Creating and Sustaining a Freshman Academy, tells the story of how Dr. Gary, as principal of Palmetto High worked with freshman-level teachers to build the Freshman Academy for incoming ninth graders. Dr. Gary presented a copy of the book to each of the board members.
Superintendent Robbie Binnicker reported that the District’s recent bond sale “went very well” with the District receiving a 2.79 percent interest rate and an interest “premium” which will save the District $6 million in prepaid interest. Binnicker said the bond attorney told him it was a “grand slam and was as good a result as we’ve seen in a long time.” The good interest rate and premium were attributed to the entire $109 million bond being sold all at once and “not a lot of others being sold at the time.”
Finance Director Travis Thomas reported that the District received the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) proceeds for March and April in June. The proceeds for Anderson County amounted to $4,417,000. District One received $1,389,000 of which $277,000 went to property tax relief and $1,111,000 went to the capital projects fund.
Binnicker reported that the Phase One concrete work at Palmetto Middle should be completed before the start of school. The “learning community” pad is currently being laid, he said.
Binnicker said the drop off and pick up at Palmetto Middle will be the same as last year, however there is a lot of work to do on Middle School Road and stacking area. “It will all be repaired before schools starts back,” he said
At Wren Middle, the parking lot and new drive are ready and asphalt will start soon. He said they have pushed for the work to be complete before the start of school, because if not, there will be no drop off area for students.
Binnicker said the entire drop off system at Wren Middle will be different. Instead of two drop off areas, there will only be one and it is “a much larger loop with a lot of stacking,” he said. Also when exiting Wren Middle, vehicles will only be allowed to turn to the right. The new traffic pattern will affect parents who also drop off children at Wren Elementary or Wren High, he said. They will need to drop off at the middle school last. All trees at Wren Middle had to be removed.
Binnicker said a work in progress report is being posted on the District One website which lists the entire work plan for each school. Is includes each project, projected cost, timeline, details and photos, he said.
Roof work at West Pelzer Elementary has been completed.
The secure vestibule work at four elementary schools is also almost complete. The new vestibules are at Powdersville Elementary, Hunt Meadows Elementary, Spearman Elementary and West Pelzer Elementary.
The Board held second reading on the ADC policy which designates the School District Tobacco Free, adding alternative nicotine products and youth access to tobacco prevention guides. It is modeled after the SC School Board Association policy. The Board approved the policy with a change on enforcement regarding product references on clothing worn by parents and visitors attending events, which was taken out.
No changes were made on the GBEC policy which allows the District to make sure they have a drug and alcohol free workplace. The policy includes alcohol in the drug free wording and allows the district to test an employee if there is reasonable suspicion for it.
The Board approved the GBED workplace policy with a change on enforcement regarding product references on clothing worn by parents and visitors attending events, which was taken out.
No changes were made from first reading on the GCF-R, Professional Hiring policy. Changes requiring a transcript and health verification during the hiring process were taken out on first reading. It also now allows online applications to be submitted.
The Homebound Instruction policy IHBF change now allow a licensed physician or nurse practitioner or physicians assistant to sign if approved at the end of a school year for the district to provide services.
The JICG policy regarding Tobacco use by students now includes alternative nicotine products and how to enforce. It also addresses consequences if a student is using either. The language regarding product references on clothing worn by parents and visitors attending events, was taken out on second reading.
The policies were approved unanimously 6-0. Board member Melissa Hood was not present.
The Board also approved first reading on changes to the IKA-R Grading Assessment Systems policy and JH-R Student Absences and Excuses.
The grading assessment policy was changed to address “handling grades students bring in from other places the same,” according to Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kelly Pew. The changes match the state guides.
Changes addressing student absences and the number of days allowed to make up work was changed to allow the student and teacher “more flexibility.” The current policy required make up work to be completed within 10 days. The change allows the school or teacher to allow additional time if needed to make up work. Superintendent Binnicker said students and teachers usually make arrangements for make up work by the fifth day back.
Binnicker said typically the district allows as many days to make up work as the student was out. He explained that they “want the work” and to “know if the student knows the material.”
Board discussion led by Board member Mike Wilson included preparing students for meeting deadlines in college and work. Discussion was also held on addressing young students and parents meeting with teachers about make up work which was brought up by Board member Wendy Burgess.
The Board went into executive session for a contractural matter and a personnel matter. No additional explanation was provided.