At last week’s school board meeting, an update was given on the Newberry High construction.
The Newberry County School District’s assistant superintendent for operations Jim Suber reported that there are no changes to the budget at this time.
He said that the demolition, which started in June, is 90 percent complete. The science labs and classrooms are almost complete.
Suber said that hopefully Sept. 30, the sciences labs will be finished.
He did add that there is “a little bit of catching up to do, but no major delays.”
As for what has been accomplished, here are the main achievements:
• Steel-I beams and in beds for science classrooms are on site and installation is scheduled for this week.
• Walls with emergency exits in place (This separates the construction area from the rest of the school.)
• Storm drainage between classrooms is complete.
• New fire hydrant is installed.
• Walls in science wings completed
As for the progress on other areas of the high school’s construction project, concrete block walls are being erected in the new science labs, concrete has been poured in the science wings and the mini-theater work is under way.
The courtyard between the buildings will have secure fencing and the front entrance will be more secure as well. Security for Newberry High is the main goal.
Suber says that all the construction areas are marked off, blocked and closed off. Students cannot get into these areas.
The construction will continue throughout this year and perhaps into next year.
Policy revisions and rule changes
In other news, Cynthia Downs, assistant superintendent for instruction, presented a couple of policy changes to the board for first reading.
The first action item that Downs presented was for instructional resources and materials.
Essentially, some words were added addressing students privacy and how parents may, for example, opt out of a survey administered in class.
The students and their parents are looked after with this policy.
The next policy dealt with the promotion and retention of students in kindergarten through eighth grades.
The promotion part deals with students achieving necessary requirements on grade level and retention deals with whether or not the student needs to be held back, which Downs explains is a very hard and carefully looked at decision.
Throughout the year, students are not only assessed with formal tests and exams, but also by teachers and staff. Observation is both informal and formal, Downs points out.
The change occurs in that midway through the year, if there is a question about a student’s progress or performance, a parent-teacher conference will be scheduled.
Downs points out that parent-teacher conferences are scheduled throughout the year and parents are always encouraged to call the school anytime.
Basically, the policy has been revised because of the new educational accountability system through the state.
For these two policy revisions, the board members all approved the first reading and a second reading will be at the next regularly scheduled board meeting.
Downs also reviewed a couple of administrative rule changes regarding acceleration and assisting students with medications and special health care needs.
Theses are for only informational purposes, she says.
For the acceleration in academic achievement, Downs said that the one sentence change was in regards to middle school students who take English I and algebra I.
She says that if principals know of a child who did not meet the circumstances to proceed to these high school level classes while in middle school, but they think that based on his or her history that the student can make it, they have authority to place that student.
The student would be in the class for a probationary period for the first nine weeks and he or she must have at least an 85.
If they do not meet those standard, they will go to the regular classroom.
In regards to the rule about medications for students, Downs says that there is no standing order anymore.
The S.C. Medical Act requires a physical-patient relationship to exist, so parents must have a form filled out with the medications they can or must take along with the original bottle of prescription or non-prescription medicine.
Downs says that they do have students who have special health care concerns such as asthma or allergies, but the school must have the proper forms and medicine.
An example was given that if a student complains of a headache and they do not have the proper forms, medication at school, then the nurse cannot just give a student medication. They can rest until they get better.
Superintendent Bennie Bennett said that at the end of the day, the schools will do what they can to take care of the child. This just eliminates the standing order, as Downs stated.
Bennett reported on the first day of schools which he said went very smoothly.
He also stated that overall, the current enrollment for the district overall was at 5,878 which is a little bit up from last year.
He went on to say that there may be a spike after Labor Day, as there tends to be.
Bennett also presented a couple of surprises.
One was to Newberry County School Board Chair Jody Hamm for reaching a level four from training through the S.C. School Board Association. Bennett presented Hamm with a certificate.
Bennett also showcased a marketing video about Newberry County schools which still has some finishing touches to be perfected.
The video highlights all the schools plus the career center with teachers and students talking about their experiences.
Bennett intends to share it with the Newberry County Chamber of Commerce as well as around the county.
Board member Lucy Anne Meetze brought up the salaries and job descriptions that they discussed during the budget earlier this year.
Hamm also said that the procurement position, which was put on hold, needs to be kept on the radar.
Bennett said that they will wait until the September board meeting to set a date and work session.