District 19 ‘blessed’ with tech upgrades

  • Dr. Shawn Johnson receivea the Region 3A Superintendent of the Year award from Michael Beasley, Blackville-Hilda High School’s principal and athletic director.

August 14 was a night of updates for the Barnwell District 19 School Board.

During their first meeting of the 2017-2018 school year, the board heard from various department heads.

Technology

Superintendent Dr. Shawn Johnson said the district has received a lot of technology upgrades recently.

“We’ve been very blessed in the last year or two,” said Daphne Wood, the district’s director of technology.

While many districts sought waivers last school year from the new state-mandated requirements for online testing, District 19 did not. Wood said they were one of the few who met the challenge. They purchased Chromebooks with money from the Abbeville school equity funding lawsuit.

District 19 also wants to upgrade the Promethean boards that are used in classrooms to modern Smartboards. This would allow students to sit at their desks and interact with the boards using their Chromebooks.

They received CATE (career and technology education) money over the summer, which funded an updated technology wing and new computers in all four computer labs at the schools. They also were able to take out the old counters and install new ones in the labs. The CATE funds also paid for new chairs in the labs and equipment for the home economics classroom.

“The rooms look a lot neater and cleaner,” she said.

They are also excited about a new program that will pay for internet at home for students who do not currently have access to the internet. Some laptops that are no longer being used by the schools will also be available to be checked out by students who do not have computers.

“We are excited about the possibility of extending the classroom to their home,” she said.

Other technology initiatives include upgrading all laptops and workstations to Windows 10, creating teacher webpages, professional development, and a new program that allows the district to scan old transcripts.

Curriculum

Curriculum director Blue Huggins said they are awaiting the results of the SC Ready and SC PASS tests from last year.

“We are expecting some really good news,” she said.

The district has streamlined its professional development for teachers by using high progress literacy. This means that no matter what subject a teacher teaches, there is a focus on literacy through the use of words and comprehension.

“It’s about being literate,” said Huggins, citing how many students have trouble reading a textbook. “We want to push our children even further.”

At the end of her presentation, the board approved several locally approved courses, such as introductory classes for end-of-course classes like English 101 and History 101.

Athletics

Michael Beasley, Blackville-Hilda High School’s principal and athletic director, said all teams are “mostly to capacity”, including 35 football players.

He recognized Johnson for being Region 3A Superintendent of the Year after principals and athletics directors in the region nominated people.

Beasley also thanked the district and board for paying off the athletic department’s debt, which allowed them to end the year for the first time with all bills paid.

Federal Programs

The district’s Title 1 allocation from the federal government took a hit to the tune of approximately $86,000, said David Corder, the district’s director of federal programs.

This led the district to cut a three-year-old program since the teacher resigned. However, Johnson said, they are rerouting the children who are impacted into other programs. He said Head Start opened up more slots for them.

Other news:

-The board approved the hiring of Ashleigh Anderson as a physical education teacher at Macedonia Elementary.

-The board approved the second and final readings of Policy ADF (District Wellness) and Policy EF-R (Food Services).

-Special services teachers are placing a “primary focus on accommodations and modifications,” said Leah Bias, special services director.

-With an AdvancED reaccreditation team coming in March 2018, Johnson said the district leadership teams are revisiting the district’s mission, vision and core beliefs. He said he believes the district is on its way to meeting the goals set by the last accreditation team.