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OCSD asks parents to help care for devices

With sure steps to graduation

The Orangeburg County School District is asking parents to make sure their children are taking care of the electronic devices provided to them.

"We have gotten a ton of devices that were just abused," Superintendent Dr. Shawn Foster said during a board meeting last week

The district has seen costs for the repair and replacement of district-issued electronic devices increase during virtual learning. Cracked screens are a common problem.

For the 2019-2020 school year, about $102,000 was spent on device repairs and replacements. So far this school year, about $30,000 has been spent.

"We are in the process of assessing students for those fees we are having to pay," District Ombudsman Dr. Jesse Washington said. "Basically, we are just placing a charge on the permanent record. We are not actually collecting funds for that at this particular time just yet."

Foster is asking parents to help monitor the situation to ensure their children are taking care of their devices. Each device costs about $500.

“We can't continue to give three and four devices to a student without then holding someone accountable for that,” he said.

“That is just not fair to the taxpayer. We have been extremely lenient because of COVID, ... but as we move back to more face to face, if those type of things continue then we will have to make a decision if that child continues to get a device.”

Facility assessment review

Trustees received an overview of the facility assessment that is being conducted by LS3P Architects.

The assessment is looking at 27 facilities in the district. About 22 have been assessed so far.

Assessments will include examinations of facility capacities, enrollment, floorplans and historical data on operation and energy costs.

Demographic data looking ahead to three, five and ten-year enrollment numbers will also be studied.

Some examples of things that will be examined include school access, parking, car and bus drop offs and facility floors, walls and ceilings for any needed repairs or upgrades.

LS3P plans to report on its findings in April.

Finance update

The district has received $55 million in general fund revenues so far, with $15 million collected in January.

Local revenues accounted for $10 million and state revenues accounted for $5 million in January.

The district will receive $23 million soon in local property tax revenues collected in January, district Superintendent of Finance Brandi Gist said.

Year-to-date, the school district has spent $61 million with $9.4 million spent in January.

Child Find Services

The district provides screening services to identify children for any needed assistance in helping overcome disabilities. The service is for children in the county between the ages of 3 and 21.

For more information, contact Assistant Superintendent for Student Services Dr. Lana Calloway at 803-533-6550.

There is more information on Child Find Services on the district's website.

Owl deployment

The next six schools to receive new Owl cameras allowing for improved virtual instruction are Holly Hill Roberts Elementary, Carver-Edisto Middle, Marshall Elementary, Branchville Middle High, Hunter-Kinard-Tyler Middle High and Sheridan Elementary;

The cameras are designed to enhance virtual simultaneous instruction for both the students at home as well as the students at school.

Other business

• Foster announced that Aiken Electric Cooperative has placed broadband infrastructure in the North Middle High School and Dover Elementary School areas, enabling students in those areas to have access to high-speed internet.

• It is now time to register for pre-kindergarten. Registration can be done on the district's website. Every elementary school also has paper applications.

• Trustees approved hiring one early childhood education teacher, seven elementary school teachers, one middle school math teacher and two world language teachers.

• The district has created a "Let's Talk" communication page on its website that will enable the community to engage in communication with the school district.

Comments will be followed up with a response from the district. The online format also enables to the district to track the kinds of questions submitted, enabling it to better see any trends or issues it needs to address.

• Trustees recognized Malaysia Barkley as part of Career and Technical Education Month.

Barkley is a senior at Lake Marion High School and also takes courses at Lake Marion's Career Technology Center. She is a state officer for the South Carolina Family, Career and Community Leaders of America student organization.

She is one of ten students in the state to hold an office in the statewide organization.

A certificate will be given to Barkley in recognition of her success.

• The next board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 9 at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be livestreamed on the district's website at www.ocsdsc.org

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