Outside agency to offer tutoring in district

Hartman Calls on District to Pay for Tutoring Service

WINNSBORO – A Columbia tutoring company’s request to use the old Gordon Odyssey Academy for a space to provide tutoring has received approval by the Fairfield County Board of Trustees.

The board voted 5-0 granting use of the facility to VocabAdvantage, a Columbia-based agency that provides tutoring services.

Board member Paula Hartman abstained.

In a letter to the district, Dr. Jacqueline Jones-Brown with VocabAdvantage said the agency is requesting space to operate afterschool tutoring services.

The district previously provided space to VocabAdvantage to run a summer enrichment program in 2018, according to the letter.

“I am submitting this letter to humbly request continued use of the building for the purpose of offering an after school program designed to assist students with homework across the curriculum as well as to continue our work on vocabulary enrichment,” the letter states. “We will also offer sign language classes and one afternoon of aerospace education.”

Board chairman William Frick said normally the district waives fees for facility usage, but wasn’t doing so for VocabAdvantage. District officials didn’t specify how much VocabAdvantage is being charged.

“They will be assessed fees based on what’s outlined in the facility usage agreement,” said Claudia Avery, the district’s deputy superintendent for academics.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, Hartman questioned several aspects of the request, including whether the school will be paying for the tutoring or the students. She also asked how much the company was charging for the tutoring.

Avery and Frick indicated they did not know.

“What you’re saying is you don’t know if they [students] are being charged for it?” Hartman asked.

“I can’t say definitively but I can find out,” Avery responded.

The VocabAdvantage website was not accessible Tuesday night.

The VocabAdvantage post listed several services, including sign language classes, speech screening, vocabulary enrichment and aerospace activity education.

Hartman also asked why an outside agency is providing tutoring services. She thought that might be a function of the school district.

“With our test scores, I think that’s something the school system needs to be doing,” Hartman said. “We could certainly give enough money to be doing that for students who need that.”

“I feel like the school district should be doing something like this for students who need it to better the test scores and students’ capabilities as far as what they’re doing and progress faster than what they are,” she said.

Avery said VocabAdvantage’s services are in addition to the district tutoring services.

“In many of our schools we have tutoring in school, before school and after school available for many of our students in Fairfield County,” Avery said. “This will be an opportunity for our students to get additional tutoring.”

“If we’re doing the tutoring, why is this necessary for them to do further tutoring?” Hartman asked.

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