R2 Board OK’s $4,400 Raise for Brochu

The Richland 2 School Board approved a 2 percent raise for all District employees during their Tuesday night meeting at Polo Road Elementary School. That increase means Superintendent Katie Brochu, who currently earns approximately $220,000 a year, will receive a $4,400 increase next year (not including benefits). A teaching assistant currently earning $15,600 will see an increase of $312. These increases will become effective July 1.

Employee Climate

Board Member Chip Jackson represented the finding of the Employee Climate Survey conducted in September. While Chairman Bill Fleming said the Board has had the initial results for quite a while, they are now being released to the public. In March of this year, K1 Insight, the consulting firm handling the initial survey, conducted focus groups to further ferret out their findings. The strengths of the survey were: a sense of belonging to the ‘Richland Family,’ employees who were products of the Richland 2 school system and abundant resources. Weaknesses were unequal allocation of IT resources, professional development that was not always constructive, lack of communication, widespread fear/mistrust and a stifling of expression if employee views differed from District. Oversight of the Climate Study began when Jackson was Chairman of the Board. Fellow members asked that he continue this work. He assured the community that the study will not sit on a dusty shelf and that weaknesses will be addressed.

Common Core

The third series of Common Core was presented by the Office of Academic Affairs. The focus was on how the students were to be assessed. Several Board members expressed concern about the preparedness of teachers in administering a test that is wholly taken on the computer and graded by both computer and human hand. South Carolina is one of 25 states using the education consortium Smarter Balanced, which is handling the assessments for each of the districts in our state. Student assessments or testing of their grasp on Common Core standards begins in the 2014-2015 school year. There will be practice assessments next year, as Richland 2 students will begin competing with students from across the country the following year. The logic of continuing with the professional development team of Schlechty, which had opposed anything but local decision for curriculum and standards, was questions by Board member James Manning. Common Core is a departure from that in that the standards are uniform across the country and determined at the national level with all students competing for the same standard. Schlechty has advocated for years that control must remain at the local community level because they know best what their students need. Schlechty is also opposed to standard assessments. Richland 2 continues its three-year relationship with the Schlechty Center.

Vacancies

In the last couple of weeks there have been several district departures from school’s key administration. In addition to planned year-end retirements, numerous teachers and administrators have chosen to continue their teaching profession in nearby districts. Currently, there are 102 employee positions open for the next school year.

The next scheduled board meeting will be July 23 at Spring Valley High School.

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