D45 board changes time of monthly meetings

Starting in November, the Barnwell District 45 School Board will meet one hour earlier.

During their Oct. 18 meeting, the board unanimously approved moving their regular monthly meetings from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m. Meetings are typically held on the second Thursday of each month.

Superintendent Crissie Stapleton said the topic of changing the time came up recently at a board work session. She then spoke to school and district level administrators, who were all in favor of the change. She said starting an hour earlier will give more people the opportunity to attend meetings and get everyone home earlier.

Early Childhood

Barnwell Primary Assistant Principal Kay Gooding and Early Childhood Coordinator Dorthy Dukes presented information on the school’s early childhood programs.

Save the Children helps children from before birth to third grade.

The Community Ambassador is a new position “responsible for community engagement through identifying 3-5-year-old children in the community (targeting children that are not served in another program) and offering parent-child community meetings,” according to a handout Gooding provided. The ambassador raises awareness on how to promote healthy brain development in children ages 0 to 5 through daily interactions with caregivers.

The district also has two Early Childhood Coordinators who serve 40 children in the home visitation program, 60 children in the Book Bag Exchange program and conduct parent child group meetings. They also provide prenatal services to expectant mothers, make referrals to supporting agencies, conduct screenings for developmental milestones, and assist with the transition to public school settings.

Save the Children’s in-school literacy program helps students in 5K through third grade. It focuses on students who need extra assistance with reading.

There is also a Save the Children Sponsorship Program, which connects individual sponsors with children at the primary school. Sponsors contribute funding to the school program, resources and services.

“Sponsored children build relationships with their sponsor through the exchange of letters,” said Gooding.

Amy Bozard, the GIRP Literacy Tutor, was recently recognized by Save the Children as one of nine coordinators in the country and the only one in the state to have 100 percent operational sponsors for students.

Other early childhood programs include the Montessori program that was implemented a few years ago and is “built around a child’s natural desire to learn,” according to the handout. The school has two early childhood Montessori classes (ages 3 to 5) and one combination class for students in first and second grades.

The Child Development Education Program is for students in 4K. It provides children and their families with “quality preschool experiences necessary for school success.” Barnwell Primary has two classes serving 40 four-year-olds.

Gooding also reported that a recent GoFundMe campaign to raise money to purchase American flags for each classroom was fully funded. Flags have been ordered.

In other news:

• Barnwell High School student Harrison Miller was recognized by the board for receiving the Congressional Bronze Medal Award. He had to complete 200 hours of community service along with other requirements.

Board members praised Miller for being a role model and said they hoped other students would take the same initiative. Chairman Dr. Rhett Richardson recalled Miller, who is an Eagle Scout, preaching during Scout Sunday at his church a few years ago.

• The board approved the monthly personnel report, which includes the hiring of Shawna Delk as a full-time custodian at Barnwell High and Brandon Marshall as a full-time bus driver. Both employees were originally part-time. Human resources assistant Linda Bell was also listed as retiring at the end of December.

• During public comments, Carrie Branch of Allendale County spoke about why she wants to transfer to Barnwell. She is currently a S.C. Connections Academy student, but said she believes Barnwell High would offer “more structure and greater standards” as well as participation in band and JROTC.

-The board met in closed session for an employment matter, but took no action upon returning to open session.