School board discusses dress code, calendar changes, minority businesses and bookbags

By Stephan Drew, Editor

In its first meeting since the school year began, the Darlington County School Board considered several items including changes to the student dress code and school calendar, as well as bookbags, local businesses and the sale of surplus electronics.
During the first reading of a new student dress code, council member Wanda Hassler asked for clarification on the “fingertip” rule. This clause specifies that “Lower garments should be of adequate length to assure modesty when the student is seated or engaged in school activities. Shorts and skirts must be long enough to extend below the extended fingertips of the wearer or two (2) inches above the knee. Any slits in the garment must open below the fingertips.” Superintendent Tim Newman explained that this was a more fair way to determine length because “everyone’s arms and legs are different lengths.”
Adjustments to the school calendar were also discussed. A few days were changed due to the holidays. Previously, school staff were not scheduled to return from Christmas break until January 4th. Under the revision, they will return on Jan. 2 and students will return on Jan. 4. In another change, students will now finish the school year on May 25 instead of May 31.
In other action, the 2022-2023 Minority Business Enterprise Utilization Plan was approved. This plan, instituted by former SC Governor Richard “Dick” Riley, allows school districts across the state to procure supplies, materials and services from minority-owned businesses within the community, utilizing local businesses rather than outside companies for these good and services. Because many aren’t aware of this program, Superintendent Newman stated, “the main problem we have is messaging, getting the information out to people.”
Newman went on to report the board’s new video platform. After some technical issues with social media and others, the board decided to use YouTube to air videos of their meetings. The video feeds will continue on Facebook and the DCSD website but, Newman explained the new method should be more stable and easier to view without static or interruption.
The superintendent also announced that the Carolina Panthers will be coming to Lamar-Spaulding Elementary School on August 17 at 12:00 p.m. to conduct a one-hour Celebration for Students, concentrated and focused on the students themselves. Newman related that available seating is very limited and he reminded the board that the Panthers donated over 4,000 bookbags and other school supplies to the Darlington County School District this summer. These items were distributed by multiple schools and other organizations through the Back-to-School events held all across the county over the past few weeks.
The superintendent described the success of the school district’s new policy to sell old Macbooks and iPads to employees. The electronics were surplus items which were not being used and this allows for additional revenue for the school district. Newman explained that the Macbooks had all been sold but there are still some iPads. Another sale event has been planned for sometime in October or November and the public will be notified of the date and time. Council member Richard Brewer said, “I can attest to the tablets. My wife wanted a newer one. We got one for her and she’s been very happy with it.”
The board expressed concern over the 26 employee vacancies still open. There are 6 in the elementary schools, 10 in the middle schools and 10 in the high schools. When asked if they were math or science-related, Newman stated, “Half of them are Special Education. They are very hard to find.”
Council moved into closed Executive Session for an hour to discuss personnel matters. When they returned, Council member Wanda Hassler made a motion that they “Direct the Administration to make a formal complaint to the State Board of Education regarding breach of contract by two professional employees.” The motion passed unanimously.
The Council has a work session planned for August 22 and their next meeting is scheduled for September 12.

Author: Stephan Drew

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