Orangeburg County School District trustees unanimously approved school start and end times for the 2021-2022 school year.
The schedule for students returning to school in August will be:
• 4k-2nd grade (primary school) – Start time: 7:40 a.m. End time: 2:40 p.m.
• 3rd to 5th grade (elementary school) – Start time: 7:40 a.m. End time: 2:40 p.m.
• 6th to 8th grade (middle school) – Start time: 8 a.m. End time: 3 p.m.
• K-12 schools – Start time: 8 a.m. End time: 3 p.m.
• 9th to 12th grade (high schools) – Start time: 8:25 a.m. End time: 3:25 p.m.
The school start and end times were overwhelmingly supported by parents and employees in a districtwide survey issued recently. Trustees approved them Tuesday.
Start and end times for individual teachers depend on the needs of the school.
In related matters, trustees also unanimously approved the 2021-2022 school calendar.
School will start Aug. 16, 2021 with the last day of school being June 3 for students and June 6 for teachers. Report cards will be issued June 10.
Holidays will include: President's Day, Feb. 21; Memorial Day, May 30; Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, spring break and Good Friday.
Graduation is scheduled for May 27-28. Seniors would not need to return the final week after graduation.
Return to school
A specially called board meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 15.
The meeting will be held to discuss and approve the district's return to school plan for the 2021-2022 school year. Individuals can see the draft document and provide feedback on the plan at the district's website. The deadline to provide feedback is June 14 at 10 a.m.
The board meeting will be live streamed on the district's website at www.ocsdsc.org.
Rural Utility Services grant
Trustees agreed to pursue a U.S. Department of Agriculture rural utility services grant.
The grant, if received, would allow the district to partner with the S.C. Department of Education to reduce literacy gaps; partner with Tri-County Substance Abuse and Edisto Health Coalition to provide substance abuse education; and to establish distance education classrooms throughout the district.
The district is requesting $921,225. The USDA amount would be $783,041 and the school district's match would be 15%, or $138,183.
In other business:
• Trustees unanimously voted to engage Columbia, SC-based Mauldin and Jenkins LLC to conduct its financial and procurement audit.
The cost of the service is $52,000 for the first year, $53,000 for the second year and $54,000 for the third year.
• Trustees approved hiring ten teachers – two science teachers and one physical education teacher for Holly Hill Middle; one special services teacher and one elementary teacher for Edisto Elementary; one instructional technologist and one math teacher for Bethune-Bowman K-12; one world language teacher and one English teacher for Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School; and one early childhood education teacher for Brookdale Elementary.
• It was noted that 2,154 students are currently enrolled in the district's summer school program. Enrollment will remain open, depending on available staffing.
• The school board recognized Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School senior Elston Cordell Williams for having perfect attendance for all 12 years of school.
• The school board recognized 2020-2021 Junior Scholars Andrew Blyther from North Middle/High School; Cameron Walker from William J. Clark Middle; Addison Jameson from Carver-Edisto Middle; and Ava Jameson from Carver-Edisto Middle School.
The students scored 550 or higher on evidence-based reading and writing as well as a 530 or higher on the math section of the PSAT.
The district recognized Robert E. Howard Middle School eighth-grader Janaisha James for her third-place win in the national writing contest, Engineergirl. The contest is a service of the National Academy of Engineering.
James' essay thanked engineers for their contributions and service to others during the coronavirus pandemic.
• The district received its Cognia accreditation through 2023.
Cognia is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that accredits primary and secondary schools throughout the United States.
• Trustees gave final reading to a resignation policy for district professional staff; a policy that would reduce district board meetings from twice to once a month; and a districtwide safety plan and drill policy.
• Trustees were given an opportunity to review options for the purchase of an electronic paperless system for use by board members during meetings.
Some board members expressed concerns about the challenges of keeping track of all the paperwork handed out during meetings and expressed a desire for a system that would make record keeping easier. No action was taken on the item.
• Trustee the Rev. R.L. "Poppy" Brown noted the Eastern Orangeburg Ministerial Alliance expressed its appreciation for the job the school district's administration and board is doing to lead the school district.