D45 school board honored; goals reviewed

  • Barnwell District 45 school board members Abraham Sexton, Rosey Anderson, Felicia Devore, Becky Huggins, and Dr. Rhett Richardson signed a poster of Ethical Principles. All school boards in the state are being asked to do the same.

A table full of gifts and a video by Barnwell Elementary students charmed members of the Barnwell District 45 School Board on Thursday, Jan. 11.

The gifts and serenade were to thank the board members during National School Board Appreciation Month.

Barnwell Elementary School students recorded a video of them singing “Hand to Hand, Heart to Heart”, which was played at the board meeting.

“We want to thank you for your commitment to our schools,” said Superintendent Crissie Stapleton. “We thank you for each and every day.”

Board chairman Dr. Rhett Richardson replied, “When we hear something like that, it makes our job easier.”

Following the honors, the board received an update from Stapleton on the status of the district’s strategic plan.

Stapleton said the first priority was stronger stakeholder input. She said stakeholders have included the ministerial association, retirees of D45, business and industry representatives, government leaders, as well as parent and student organizations.

The next priority is increased technology. Stapleton said that through the district’s 1:1 initiative, classrooms in Grades Pre-K through first have iPads and carts while Grades 2-12 have Google Chromebooks and carts.

Increasing opportunities for students was next on the list. She said a Youth Apprenticeship Program at Barnwell High School resulted in two apprenticeships in partnership with Swiss Krono. She said they are also exploring ways to expand work-based learning opportunities, implementing Google Classroom and increasing personalized learning with the 1:1 Initiative, and increasing computer science offerings for next year.

Next on the priority list was recruitment of personnel “in the midst of state-wide and nation-wide teacher shortages.” She said through Rural Recruitment Initiative Funding from CERRA, “to date, we have received $84,039.13 in funded proposals during this school year. Others are currently being considered.”

Other programs include the “Call Me Mister” program, a ProTeam program at Guinyard-Butler Middle School, possible internship opportunities, providing opportunities for paraprofessionals to learn more about getting their degrees and assist those completing certification requirements, and working on additional plans for recruitment and retention.

The next priority was exhibiting fiscal responsibility. Stapleton said the district has added $861,820 to the fund balance for its general fund and “total fund balance reserves is now at $3,525,525, enough to cover three months of district operation costs.”

She said the district is saving 12 percent of overhead costs at the district office by eliminating positions through attrition.

“We will be beginning the budget process for the 2018-2019 school year this month,” she said.

The next priority was improving facilities. Stapleton said they have “identified priorities on the Capital Improvement List, as well as the identified priorities outlined in the general fund maintenance plans for each school”

She said the district is continuing to seek funding opportunities including a FEMA grant under Hurricane Matthew funding to create a safe house/high school gym; receiving $1,163,000 from the Abbeville Capital Improvement Funding; and continue seeking funding opportunities.

Last on the list was improving communication practices. Stapleton said they have implemented a quarterly community newsletter to highlight district initiatives, programs, and news. In addition the district and school websites have been updated and an effort is underway to be present at community activities including informational tables and book giveaways.

Ethics

The board members signed a poster of Ethical Principles. Chairman Richardson read the principles from a poster and each of the board members penned their signatures to it. The poster will be framed and hung in the board room, said Stapleton.

All school boards in the state are being asked to commit to the list of ethics.

Closed session

The board met for nearly an hour in closed session to discuss an employee appeal and superintendent goals.

Upon their return to open session they voted unanimously to “uphold the superintendent’s decision regarding Employee A.”

They also agreed to approve the superintendent’s goals for the end of the 2017-18 school year and the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.

Earlier in the meeting the board also thanked Dr. Rachel Wall for taking on the extra duties of assistant superintendent on top of her current duties of director of curriculum.