Board Silent on Construction

The Richland 2 School Board met Tuesday night at Polo Road Elementary. Notably absent from the agenda was a Facility Report. No information on the building of Elementary School #19 or the new Student Education Center on Clemson University Extension or the District Office Renovation was covered during the meeting. While also not reported during the School Board meeting, District Office renovations have begun and employees are relocating to schools throughout the District. In the name of transparency and community partnerships, it is reasonable to expect an announcement regarding facility work in the coming weeks.

Exchange

Students from Blythewood, Westwood and Spring Valley high schools spoke of the value of their nine-week exchange to Cali, Colombia. Attending classes taught completely in Spanish, they said, was the easy part – acclimating to the different foods and climate was the biggest adjustment. The students made suggestions for improvements in coordinating their advanced classes at their home high schools with their temporary schools and the need to have the exchange students living with their host families in proximity so they could all partake in the extracurricular activities. Teacher Gloria Hamm, who travelled with the students, felt that each student came away with a stretched mind that she hopes never contracts and recognition that they are citizens of the world.

Dress Code

After a couple of months of surveying students, parents and administration, a dress policy was unanimously adopted.

Buses

The Board voted to purchase three new buses, at a cost of $270,000, to provide student transportation to and from the middle school magnet program, CAP, which is housed at the Richland Northeast High School campus. The program aims to increase academic readiness for under-achievers. At the last meeting, the Board voted to spend $142,000 for fuel and drivers for the buses. The goal of the expenditure is to increase student participation in CAP from the current 55 students to 75 students. The total cost for transporting the 20 additional students is $412,000 ($142,000 + $270,000.) This exceeds the cost normally allocated per pupil (about $10,000 each) by more than $20,000. The buses will enter the regular fleet, picking students up at their regular middle school and transporting them to Richland Northeast for the CAP program.

Common Core

The District presented their progress on Common Core Standards. These national standards for Math and English Language Arts (ELA) have been adopted by 47 states – South Carolina being one. These standards define the knowledge and skill sets that students should master for success in college or the workforce. Currently, kindergartners through second grade are taught with these standards in mind. They will be in place for all grades throughout our District by the 2013-2014 school year. There has been considerable discussion in academic arenas concerning the merit of the standards, how they were selected, how students will be measured and the costs for implementation. The Voice will expand in the coming weeks on a three part series to present the national, state and District work to date. Common Core Standards are permeating all the work Richland 2 does and presentations regarding Common Core will be made at three Board meetings.

Family Leave

In response to the 1993 federal Family and Medical Leave Act, the District wrote an employee policy that covers personal leave and absences for the birth of a child of an employee. The Board is considering expanding the policy for adoptive parents. Board member James Manning asked for the policy review. Board member Melinda Anderson said that she wants to see adoptive parents have the same rights as biological parents. Also under consideration are bereavement leaves for employees to tend funerals of loved ones. A vote is expected at the next meeting.

The next School Board meeting will be held at Polo Road Elementary School on May 28 at 7 p.m.