Seniors want graduation moved back outside

Natalie Netzel Staff Writer

September 25, 2013

NEWBERRY — Five high school seniors from Mid-Carolina and Newberry spoke at Monday’s school board meeting about the graduations at their respective schools being moved inside beginning in 2014.

In addition to the five seniors, parent Greg Turner also addressed the board.

Morgan Werts, a senior at Mid-Carolina High School, asked board members to move the graduation to May 31 at 8:30 a.m. The student body president at Mid-Carolina said the number of tickets decreases as the graduating class increases which does not allow for enough tickets to distribute.

He also mentioned having graduation at larger locations such as the gym at Presbyterian College, the Greenwood Civic Center or some Columbia locations. He also mentioned that when the graduation was held in the gym, there have been auditory problems.

Another Mid-Carolina senior said, “We the class of 2014 would like the same opportunity to walk across the field, like our parents.”

Newberry High senior Eva Derrick said students began a petition to have the graduation outside where there will be plenty of room for family and friends. She pointed out that the noise level would be higher indoors as opposed to outside.

“We should be able to vote for the most important event in our lives. This is one thing we take to heart,” said Derrick.

The Newberry High petition had over 130 signatures.

Turner said he felt it was important for board members to hear from the students since it is their celebration. He also brought up three points including: examining the percentage of times graduations have been held inside, high school graduation may be the only graduation for some students and he asked for a study committee in place.

After the students finished, Superintendent Bennie Bennett thanked the students for showing up and presenting their cases.

“I met with students who shared their concerns. I am proud of you and how you presented yourself. You were poised and confident in what you presented. As students, you are a great representative of the school district,” he said.

The students were also congratulated by the board members after the meeting ended for their professionalism during the whole meeting. No action was taken but the board said it will examine what they presented.

In other business:

— Chairman Jody Hamm appointed two delegates and an alternative for the S.C. School Board Association Legislative Advocacy Conference and annual business meeting. Lee Attaway and Lucy Anne Meetze were appointed. Jessie Reeder is the alternate. Any board member is welcome to attend the meeting.

— Assistant Superintendent of Operations Jim Suber gave a brief overview of the administration building.

Suber said they are about 30 days behind schedule because of the weather. However, application of the brick veneer is set to start next week. A contractor meeting is scheduled for Friday and an engineering inspection continues next week.

The structural still components are about 99 percent complete and the roof application is 48 percent dried in. The plumbing and infrastructure is ongoing.

— Human resource director Pam Arrington went over some basic information regarding the Affordable Care Act.

Arrington said she must send the notice, New Health Insurance Marketplace Coverage Options and Your Health Coverage, to all employees this week.

Arrington pointed out that the majority of employees are not affected because they have health coverage. However, those who do not have health insurance must get it by Jan. 1, 2014. All U.S. taxpayers must purchase it or pay a penalty.

Arrington pointed out that employees with variable hours which include substitutes, home bound teachers, adult education teachers, substitute bus drivers and cafeteria workers, tutors, and coaches that only receive a supplement, might have to start tracking their hours and might have to limit their hours. However, that is an issue that will need examination.

She said any employee with questions regarding the Affordable Care Act and health insurance can contact her.

— Arrington reported that 66 teachers were hired for the 2013-14 school year, two administrators were hired and two administrators were transferred. Seventeen percent of the hires were black and 22 percent were minorities. Compared with last year, there were 62.5 teachers hired and for 2011-12, there were 39 teachers hired.

— Arrington reported that there were 62 retirees for the 2012-13 year. The last time the district had at least 60 retirees was in the 2007-08 year. The percentage for the past school year was 13 percent.

— Arrington also went over the teachers who left the Newberry district for other districts and for the past school year, the majority of teachers left for Lexington-Richland 5 and Richland 2. However, Arrington mentioned that Lexington 5 just opened a new magnet school so the district lost five of its employees to that school. They also had four teachers to leave for the Greenville district.

— In the superintendent’s report, Bennett said the board retreat will take up a full day for the board members to review goals for the district and set new goals. A retreat date has not been set yet.

— Bennett said the board will have a meeting for AdvancEd on Dec. 1 and Dec. 4. The board is required to meet with them as Newberry’s district is one of 14 districts to be AdvancEd accredited.