D29 board approves Costa Rica trip

Duane Cooper with the S.C. School Boards Association updates the D29 board on legislative issues impacting public education.

Duane Cooper with the S.C. School Boards Association updates the D29 board on legislative issues impacting public education.

First Byline: 
Jonathan Vickery - Staff Writer

Spanish students at Williston-Elko High School could soon put what they're learning in the classroom to work in Costa Rica after the school board approved an international field trip request.
The school is partnering with Gilbert High School and Lexington School District 1 for a tour of the South American country June 18 to 26.
"I think it's an opportunity of a lifetime some of our students will never get again," said Chairman Scotty Richardson during the Sept. 17 meeting. He said his daughter is excited about the trip.
Not only will students be immersed in the culture and language of Costa Rica, but they'll meet Costa Rican students to discuss differences in their educational experiences, said Dr. Carol Lenderman, the district's director of instruction, assessment and accountability.
The trip is open to any Spanish student at the school and was the idea of Christina Del Hoyo, the Spanish instructor. She will work with students to raise funds for the cost of the trip.
Board member Doris Young made a motion to approve the travel, which was seconded by Charles Melton. It was unanimously approved.
The board also heard a legislative update from Duane Cooper with the S.C. School Boards Association on how the 2013 session went and what is coming up in 2014.
"This year started slow," he said, but there was some progress concerning educational issues.
One highlight was the state's budget, which included $175 million in new funding for K-12 education and $26 million to expand four-year-old kindergarten.
Looking to the 2014 session, which begins in January, Cooper said "there's a lot of work to do in upcoming year."
This includes looking to eliminate the high school exit exam HSAP, reauthorizing the First Steps program, improving school safety, and deciding if the state superintendent of education should be appointed or elected.
"It's incumbent for us to fight for what's right for students in public education," said D29 Superintendent Dr. Tom Siler.
In other news:
The board approved a transfer of $16,015.67 from the general fund to balance the budget and pay for the remaining costs of summer renovation projects.
In an operations update, Ronnie Neville, the district's maintenance director, said recent rains have caused several roof leaks. They are also replacing the painted wood shelves in their food pantries with metal ones and are looking to replace old window air conditioning units.
The district will hold their first collaborative planning day today, Sept. 25, something all three Barnwell County districts are doing. Students will be released a few hours early so teachers and administrators can work on staff development.