Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5 is installing an emergency alert system at several schools, district head of security Bobby Rivers said.
The system provides a panic button in each room, two-way communications and an alert system. If necessary, a school’s front office can send alerts to “smart boards” in classrooms.
The system was purchased with a U.S. Department of Justice 3-to-1 matching grant of $650,000. The district’s share of the cost was $160,000, Rivers said.
Rivers discussed the improvements and other efforts during a meeting with OCSD5 trustees last week.
The district is hoping to get the funds to install additional security cameras at schools by the end of the year.
Rivers also noted intruder drills are continuing at district schools.
A recent security task force meeting at South Carolina State University was a success, Rivers said. The task force includes local law enforcement agencies as well as principals and staff of district schools.
At the meeting, a S.C. Law Enforcement Division agent talked about spotting signs of gang activity.
“We need to start addressing those issues,” board Chairman Vernon Stephens said.
In other business:
• John Singh, president of the OCSD5 Educational Foundation, presented Clark Middle School’s band program with a $5,000 check to be used toward their upcoming trip to Carnegie Hall in New York. The band will participate in workshops and perform at the historic event venue. The trip will be June 14-18.
• The board entered closed, executive session to discuss contractual matters. After returning to open session, trustees approved $150,600 to fund the new county school district’s operational budget.
• In the legislative update, Stephens and other trustees talked about their recent trip to the National School Boards Association annual conference in Philadelphia. Sessions at the conference addressed issues like school violence, funding, critical thinking, leadership skills, reading and writing skills, relationships, soft skills and hard skills.
Overall, Vice Chairman Henry Jenkins said, “The people at the top set the tone for district leadership. ... We have to be a team, from the top all the way down, with a vision.”
Stephens stressed the idea of apprenticeships and middle-skill jobs, saying all graduates don’t have to go to four-year colleges. There are plenty of good-paying middle-skill and high-skill jobs to be obtained with the right training and education, he said, with less student debt.
• Head of finance and operations Donnie Boland gave his report for February. Local revenue was $1.2 million more than the district budgeted, he said.
Total revenue was about $14.4 million, and total expenditures were about $5.6 million.
“Expenditures are about what we expect at this time of year,” Boland said.
• Trustees voted to increase the general fund budget for two expenditures: contract services for learning disabilities at $6,740 and an upgraded sound system at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School at $61,289.
• Rodney Zimmerman of the human resources department said he and the HR staff of the three current school districts are continuing to recruit staff for the new county district. A recent combined career fair was a success, Zimmerman said.
“We were able to bring some people into the district,” he said.
• Head of instructional services Dr. Cynthia Cash-Greene presented a draft of the district’s updated five-year strategic plan. The plan will be submitted, with any corrections, to the state education department on or before April 30, she said.
The board voted to approve the strategic plan draft.
Cash-Greene reported that plans are in motion for several summer enrichment opportunities for students, and a districtwide Math Fest for elementary and middle school students will be held Saturday, May 4.
• The next meeting will be held at 6 p.m. April 23, at a location to be announced later.