Coaches’ Teaching Credentials Questioned

WINNSBORO (Jan. 12, 2017) – During public comment time at the December School Board meeting, parent Thomas Armstrong raised the question of how many head coaches in the Fairfield County School District are not certified. While he suggested to the Board that none are certified, he later backed off that assessment in a follow-up interview with The Voice, saying there may be as many as five who are not certified and that at least two head coaches are not college graduates.

“It’s a sad day when we can’t hire certified coaches in Fairfield County with the money we are paying,” Armstrong said. He challenged the Board to be sure they are doing their due diligence; to be sure they are getting the best their money can pay for.

“I’m told that in the old days we had certified coaches. We’ve got to raise the bar when it comes to our kids. They’re all we’ve got,” he said.

Armstrong said he had “praise for the accomplishments we’ve made with Dr. Green . . . and I, too, want to see us continue to grow. But when we employ people,” Armstrong said, “I want the best for our kids. We need to educate the whole child. And when it comes to sports, we can’t cheat our kids.”

Armstrong also addressed the Board on several issues of coaches’ accountability and brought up what he said is an unwritten policy in the District to close (sports) practice sessions to parents.

“Now, parents can go into the classroom in Fairfield County, but we close our practices to parents. What’s going on in practices that parents can’t see?” Armstrong asked.

With that, Board Chairman Beth Reid (District 7) rapped her gavel, and Armstrong sat down.

Asked later about Armstrong’s assertions, Superintendent Dr. J. R. Green confirmed that several coaches are not certified and that some are not college graduates.

“The varsity boys’ baseball coach, boys’ track coach, girls’ track coach, wrestling and cross country coaches are all certified,” Green wrote in an email to The Voice. “I can confirm that, to my knowledge, we do have some that have not completed their degree requirements. As a district, we continue to support our classified staff members that are interested in eventually becoming certified, and (we are) proud to celebrate those that achieve that milestone.”

Evaluation of Superintendent

During Board business that followed, Reid said she handed out forms to Board members during an executive session prior to the public meeting that members were to complete for the purpose of the annual evaluation of the Superintendent.

“We went over the five components of the evaluation – engagement, achievement, leadership, learning environment and fiscal management,” Reid said. Green presented his own validation of his achievements in the five areas in executive session, she said. Reid asked Board members to complete their evaluation forms during the public meeting and return them to her at the end of the evening for compilation. Reid said she would announce the results of the evaluation at a later date.

Beta Club Trip

The Board approved unanimously a trip for the High School Beta Club to Myrtle Beach on Feb. 10 for a workshop. Green said the Middle School Beta Club would not be going to Myrtle Beach this year, but to Berry Island. When asked by Paula Hartman (District 2) if the Middle School students would be involved in a Beta Club competition at Berry Island as they had been the previous year at Myrtle Beach, Green said he was not sure.

Green noted that the students are required to pay a $50 non-refundable trip deposit as an incentive not to back out at the last minute. Annie McDaniel (District 4) amended the motion to provide for the $50 deposits to be refunded to those students who actually take the trip. The motion passed unanimously.

Employee Incentive

Green recommended a $100 Christmas incentive for all fulltime and permanent part-time employees, for a total cost to the District of $65,000 which, he said, had been budgeted for the 2016-17 school year.

Board member Sylvia Harrison (District 1) suggested doubling that amount to $200 for a total of $130,000.

Board member Rev. Carl Jackson (District 5) had some advice for his fellow Board members in this regard.

“As long as we don’t set a precedent that will be expected in the future,” Jackson said. “This is a one-time deal for this particular year. We don’t have a windfall every year. If they expect $200 next year and we don’t give it, they may be a little disgruntled.”

The $200 Christmas incentive passed 6-1. Hartman was the lone dissenter, saying the extra amount had not been budgeted.

Reid said the Board will meet at the District Office in January and will, at that time, set a date for the annual Board retreat.