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BAMBERG -- All of the principals reported smooth openings on the first day of the 2018-19 academic year at August's Bamberg School District 1 Board of Trustees' meeting.

Richard Carroll Elementary Principal Stacey Walter said more than 500 attended her school's open house and a total of 740 students were enrolled on the first day of classes.

“We have a new 'Welcome Back' sign out front that our school won from Sign Gypsies in Barnwell, and a lot of parents were taking pictures of their children in front of it," Walter said.

RCES won the sign in a Facebook contest, she said.

She also reported the Bamberg-Ehrhardt High football players and cheerleaders came to the school to read to the students.

Bamberg-Erhardt Middle Principal Denise Miller reported the school had a well attended and successful open house.

“We are in our second year of our three-year vision, with this year('s) (theme) being ‘Understanding Why,'" she said, noting the school opened with an enrollment of 207 students.

Bamberg-Ehrhardt High Principal Dennis Ulmer reported his school had 375 students present on the first day, with 13 more potential students who had not yet enrolled.

He said work on the high school gym was nearly completed, noting the bleachers had already been installed.

Superintendent Phyllis Schwarting reported 38 students in the district had not yet gone through registration. She also reported that she met with State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman to discuss "how we can combine some services and coordinate to become more financially sound."

"There are a lot of things that she will be able to change, and she has a food service background," Schwarting said.

In addition, she reported Bamberg 1 is paying for some of its students to take classes at Orangeburg Consolidated School District 4’s Alternative and Technology schools. Bamberg 1 also has a partnership with USC Salkehatchie, the superintendent noted.

Schwarting presented a thick legislative policy manual that she said district officials and trustees will be reviewing to make sure all of Bamberg 1's policies are up to date and making changes where needed.

The superintendent also addressed teachers' unused sick leave, noting that if a teacher has more than 90 days of sick leave built up and does not use the amount that is over the 90 days, they lose it unless they are retiring. Schwarting asked the board to consider adopting a policy to pay teachers for their qualifying unused days at the district’s substitute pay rate.

“At this time, I don’t know if you want to go ahead and consider this. It wouldn’t take effect until the end of the school year,” she told the board, which opted not to take action at that time.

In other business, the trustees:

  • Discussed the district's policy allowing service animals in the schools.
  • Denied an out-of-state field trip request because there wasn’t enough time for students to raise money to pay for it.
  • Heard a report from Patricia Blume of the Bamberg County Voter Registration and Election Commission that the commission is trying to update the county's polling places.

“We would like for you to look at using one of (your) schools for a voting facility," Blume told the board. "North Bamberg (precinct) is the largest in the county, and the (former) armory (Bamberg Civic Center) is just outdated.”

She said other districts allow use of school facilities as polling places.

The consensus of the trustees was that they would need to give the request careful consideration.

  • Dell Jones, a BEHS science teacher, raised a concern about district policy not allowing teachers to take any days off during the first two and the last two weeks of the school year. She said when a teacher’s child is going off to college, the parents have a “move in” day when they must move their children into their dorms. She said that date is non-negotiable.

“Please consider changing the current policy," she asked the board.

Trustees agreed to take the matter under advisement.

Contact the writer: ldhntr12@yahoo.com.

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