July 21, 2008

District 4 Using Leftover Cash for School Supplies

By Lee Tant, The Times and Democrat, Orangeburg, S.C.

Jul. 19--This fall, parents of Orangeburg Consolidated School District 4 students will have one less thing to worry about: school supplies.

Thanks to more than $18,000 left over from the past budget year, the district will furnish pens, pencils, paper, rulers and other supplies to 4-K through 8th grade students, the district announced during its Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday.

"It's a positive step to help our parents," said OCSD 4 Finance Director Tom Ashley.

Ashley said the district is looking for ways to expand the initiative to its high school students.

Board Chairman Aaron Rudd hailed the program as a way to soften the blow of high gas prices.

"We just know that out in this rural community people have further to drive to work... Any way we can help is what we're going to try and do," Rudd said.

Also during the meeting, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Dr. Shirlan Mosley-Jenkins updated the board on the progress of the district's summer school.

She said 450 students have attended the summer school, which has recently gone to three-day weeks to cut costs. Jenkins told the board the rigor of summer courses has been toughened so students can meet increasing state and federal benchmarks.

"Summer school went really, really well," Jenkins said.

So far during the session, 23 students have been dismissed for disciplinary reasons. Trustee Joseph Garvin asked what has been done to ensure those students do not fall behind and present further behavioral problems.

"We don't want to lose any of them," Garvin said.

Jenkins said the district is looking at strategies to address the issue on an individual basis. She noted one possibility could be moving some of those students to the district's alternative school, the STAR Center for Learning.

Superintendent Dr. Darrell Johnson announced the appointment of two principals in the district. New Edisto High Principal Merrill Smith and Hunter-Tyler-Kinard Principal Jonathan Francis both have been longtime employees of OCSD 4.

"I'm excited to have them as part of our leadership team. They are tremendous assets to our district," Johnson said.

The board also approved a large group of policy revisions in areas such as student attendance, nonresident students and punishment.

Assistant Superintendent for Operations and Planning Larry Wolfe said the two most notable revisions were for student fees and nondiscrimination policies.

The district's nondiscrimination policy was revised to include immigrant status and non-English speaking students.

In addition, the district will not charge instructional fees for students who receive free lunch. Students who receive reduced-price lunch may be charged a prorated fee.

In other business:

--The board approved a installment purchase agreement not to exceed $300,000 through the South Carolina Association of Governmental Organizations to buy high-definition televisions and personal computer tablets for the classroom.

--Wolfe said the paving project at Carver-Edisto Middle School had been completed. He said that the additional rooms being constructed at CEMS should be finished in time for the new year.

Wolfe noted that a solar panel would also be installed at CEMS for students to conduct experiments.

--For the 2007-2008 budget year, Ashley said the district had collected $25.7 million in revenue and spent $25.6 million through June.


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