The Orangeburg County Consolidated School District 3 Board of Trustees voted at its October meeting to amend the district's 2017-2018 budget to delay the implementation of a millage rate increase that members had passed earlier in the year.
The change removed from the spending plan those additional funds totaling more than $200,000, which the district expected to receive from the tax increase. The trustees put the measure on hold until they see what happens with the consolidation of the county’s three school districts.
Also during the meeting, Superintendent Dr. Jesulon Gibbs-Brown reported that the days leading up to the October meeting had been some of the busiest she could remember, with a number of special events taking place. Among the events she cited were: the First Responders Luncheon for law enforcement officials and other community partners who assist area schools during times of emergencies; visits to local schools by members of the Save the Children board and the district’s Back to Basics program for parents.
In other business, Rep. Jerry Govan, in his capacity as Orangeburg County attendance supervisor, addressed the trustees about current attendance policies.
“As the county supervisor, my primary responsibility during the past few years has been to ensure that all students in Orangeburg County are in compliance with the state attendance law,” Govan said. “According to (state law), all students (ages 5-17) ... are required to attend school.”
He noted that parents of school-age children can be charged under state negligence laws if their children do not comply with attendance requirements. Govan provided the trustees with copies of the state regulations that govern attendance. He specifically called attention to new regulations that define what constitutes an unlawful student absence.
“We work hard to make the application of the attendance law uniform across the county,” he added.
The board also elected Trustee Catherine Shuler as its delegate to the South Carolina School Boards Association's Legislative Conference in December in Charleston. Barbara Butler was elected to serve as alternate if Shuler is unable to attend.
The board agreed to participate in a grant program with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Program. The matching grant would enable the district to purchase security cameras and a vehicle to improve security at its schools.
In addition, the trustees received information about the LMHS Career and Technical Education program from Aldean Gilmore, who heads up the program. Gilmore expressed her intention to continue bringing work-based learning experiences to the students, increasing certifications and boosting student participation in professional societies.
“We have 11 programs at the technology center,” she said. “The first one is Outer Space Technology. This program will begin in January. Next we have Agriculture Science and Technology. They’re doing a lot with horticulture and wildlife management," she said.
“One program I want to particularly highlight is the Automotive Technology Program,” Gilmore said. “Here at Lake Marion, we have a nationally recognized certified automotive technology program that provides our ... students the best education in this field. “
The program was recently accredited with a National Automotive Technology Foundation certificate, she noted.
“Along with our NATAF accreditation, we have a partnership with Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College that offers transferable dual-credit courses,” Gilmore said.
During the meeting, OCSD3 officials also presented certificates of achievement to two award-winning members of the LMHS Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program sponsored by the U.S. Army.
“Brandin Weatherford was the Distinguished Superior Cadet out of all 800 cadets from 62 high schools across South Carolina that participated,” said Sgt. Major Harold Brown, LMHS JROTC program instructor. “Ashley Stevens was a Distinguished Cadet from a group of 200 people in Delta Company.”
Both Weatherford and Stevens hope to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
The board tabled second reading of three policies because several trustees said they had not had a chance to adequately review the latest version of the language contained in the policies. Two other related policy measures were also put on hold.
The OCSD3 Board of Trustees will hold its next regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14.