HOLLY HILL -- The Orangeburg Consolidated School District Three Board of Trustees voted at its March meeting to extend the pilot program that relaxed the Lake Marion High School policy on cell phones and other electronic devices.
“To date, the students who traditionally do the right thing, they’re continuing to do the right thing,” LMHS Principal Kelvin Lemon told the board. “Those students who sometimes push the envelope a little bit, we’re having some challenges with them.”
The pilot program permits students to have cell phones in the cafeteria, outdoor commons area, gym and gym lobby before school, during lunch and after school. Lemon said he and key LMHS teachers continue meeting frequently to talk about ways to clearly define consequences of violating the rules regarding electronic devices.
“I think one thing we can do for our students that’s very important is to teach responsibility, rather than just abandon the process altogether,” Lemon said. “So we want to go through the process of drafting up some consequences that we think are fair, and then meeting with our students to make sure we teach them what we want them to do.”
He also reported on the review of the Career and Technology Education program at LMHS, which the South Carolina Department of Education conducted earlier this year. A nine-member team from the department spent a day touring Lake Marion High's technology center, interviewing teachers, examining documents provided by teachers, evaluating available programs and examining the facilities. The SCDOE team then provided suggestions for improving technology training program.
“We are now looking at the recommendations that the state department has provided us, looking at what we can easily implement, what we can have as quick wins,” Lemon said. “Once we resolve those, we can sit down and brainstorm and see how we can implement more.”
He also talked about possible options to address the schedules of seniors who have less than a full class schedule.
“We currently have many students who, once they’ve reached their senior year, have taken basically all the courses that they need to take,” Lemon said.
He said school officials have discussed various options for structuring such free time for students. But in talking with parents, they found more support for flexible alternatives such as internship opportunities and job skills development, the principal said. Additional discussions will take place as the district strives to develop comprehensive policies that maximize student potential, he said.
Board members also heard about preparing children to enter the school system. Parent liaisons and staff members at every elementary school in the district have worked together to present workshops on school readiness for parents of children under age 5 during the 2016-2017 school year. It was reported that more than 100 parents attended the sessions.
Parents learned simple techniques to help close the “learning gap” by ensuring that children’s brains develop properly, it was noted. Parents also received packages of simple activities and books to help stimulate reading capabilities, sharpen math skills and expand children’s vocabularies, it was reported.
In addition, the board took time to recognize two Lake Marion High seniors who recently earned full scholarship to college. Zavier Crump earned a full scholarship from the U.S. Army to attend Clemson University, and Davondre “Tank” Robinson signed a letter of intent to play college football at East Carolina University.
Board members also approvied first reading of the proposed school calendar for 2017-2018. The board has the option of starting school early because of the total solar eclipse that will take place on the afternoon of August 21. Some parents and educators have suggested using the event as the basis for science classes or science projects. Board members will further discuss the topic before giving the proposed schedule second reading later in the spring.
In addition, the trustees approved two field trips for students at LMHS. One trip is for students who will participate in the Future Business Leaders of America state conference in North Charleston March 17-19. This trip required students to miss class on March 17.
The other trip is the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps educational trip to visit historic sites in Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The trip will include meetings with Congressman Jim Clyburn and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott and visits to national monuments. The trip will take place April 5-9, and require participating students to miss two days of school.
Transportation Supervisor Kevin Addison reported the district received one more of the school buses promised by the state, with at least three more yet to be delivered. He complimented the district transportation team on continuing to get students to and from school as close to “on time” as possible with several buses still out of commission and awaiting repairs.
“Drivers are doing everything they can do to get kids to school -- if not on time, then as close to on time as possible -- and getting them home as close to regular time as possible,” Addison said.
Addison, filling in for Operations Manager Gerald Wright, updated board members on key operational activities, reported that work on the new entrance at Holly Hill Elementary School will be completed this month. He said work on additional security measures at the main entrance to LMHS will also be undertaken this month.
The monthly financial report showed the district had received total revenue of $6,319,028.66 as of Feb. 28. Expenditures during the reporting period were $1,986,756.80. The district receives the vast majority of its revenues in February through state and other tax money.
The OCSD3 Board of Trustees' next regular meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4. The meeting will take place one week earlier than usual because all district facilities will be closed the second week in April for spring break.