School board honors 20 students, discusses calendar, policy updates

By Stephan Drew, Editor

The Darlington County School board met on Monday, March 13, 2023, and honored the scholastic and athletic achievements of over 20 students in the district. The board also discussed several other items, which included minor updates of nearly 80 school policies.

Students  participated in the South Carolina College- and Career-Ready Assessments (SC READY). This program is a statewide assessment in English language Arts (ELA), mathematics, science, and social studies administered in grades 3 through 8 as required by the Education Accountability Act (EAA). Eleven students in the school district earned a perfect score on one or more sections of the test. To earn perfect scores, the students must score the maximum raw score for those sections of the test.

The students who achieved this level in Science are Craig Weatherford (Brockington Elem. School), Rory Hardyman (North Hartsville Elem. School), William Ross (North Hartsville Elem. School), Anna Alexander (Hartsville Middle School), McLyndon Creamer (Hartsville Middle School), Taleya Jackson (Darlington Middle School) and Nefer-Tamia Marine (Darlington Middle School.

The district students who achieved the highest level in Math are Persis Dathrapu (Darlington Middle School), Jayden Smith (Darlington Middle School), Tyler Watkins (Darlington Middle School) and Adhitay Purohit (Hartsville Middle School).

Four students from Mayo High School for Math, Science & Technology earned first-place honors at the recent South Carolina State Beta Club Convention and competitions. Those first-place student winners are Savana Odom (Two-Dimensional Design and On-Site Painting Division I), Emily Storm (Three-Dimensional Design), Nevaeh Bostic (Premier Performer Senior Singer) and Torion Davis (Premier Performer Senior Singer). Mrs. Carlita King, Asst. Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, also recognized these students for their  academic achievement.

Two Hartsville High School athletes were honored for earning spots in the S.C. Basketball Coaches Association All-State Basketball teams. They are Jasmine Frierson, who earned a spot on the 2023 SCBCA AAAA All-State Basketball Team and Kameron Forman, who earned a spot on the 2023 SCBCA AAAA All-State Boys Basketball Team. Mr. Larry Johnson, Assistant Superintendent for Administration and Operations also recognized Frierson and Forman for their outstanding athletic accomplishments.

Three Hartsville High School wrestlers earned spots on the 2023 S.C. High School League All-State Wrestling Team. They are Jackson Chavis (2023 SCHSL AAAA All-State Boys Wrestling), Kelly Pendergrass (2023 SCHSL AAAA All-State Girls Wrestling), and Rylee Berghorn (2023 SCHSL AAAA All-State Girls Wrestling). Rylee Berghorn also won the 2023 S.C. High School League State Female Wrestling Championship for the 195 lb. weight class. Mr. Johnson also recognized these student athletes for their accomplishments.

The board also discussed the proposed calendar for the 2024-2025 School Year, which will begin on August 1st 2024, and run through the end of May 2025. The administration has created two draft calendars for consideration. Both calendars are built on the modified year-round model, which has garnered favorable reponses from parents and staff alike. The administration will share these draft calendars with employees for feedback and a vote before bringing a final version back to the board for approval.

Also discussed were approximately 80 school policies, which include the allowance and use of service animals, student attendance, admission of nonresident students and homeless students, students in foster care, educational opportunities for military students, sexual discrimination, student dress codes, hazing, gang activity, and tobacco/alcohol use by students. Other policies discussed up for discussion were student protests and demonstrations, student social events, discipline, detention/suspension/expulsion of students, transmission of communicable diseases, food allergies, first aid and school nurses. Explaining the need for addressing so many policies, Superintendent Dr. Tim Newman stated, “Some of these policies haven’t been reviewed in over 20 years.”

School Board member Charles Govan of District 6, who is also Board Secretary, was unanimously  nominated by the board to stand for the position of  President-Elect of the South Carolina School Board Association (SCSBA). Govan reminded the board that the last time a President of the SCSBA hailed from Darlington was in 1976 with Mr. Ed Hursey.

The board also discussed the transition of students from Rosenwald Middle School to the new facility in Darlington. “Rosenwald Middle School students,” Dr. Newman said, “will be transferring to Darlington Middle School for the next (2023-2024) school year.” Letters have already been sent out to the parents of transitioning students and the staff at both schools. It is estimated that between 40 and 50 students will be affected by this change. Four teachers will be transferred as well to help with the anticipated increase in student numbers.

The board heard the first reading of an Unencumbered Time policy, which will allow 30 minutes of uninterrupted time per school day for teachers, especially during lunch periods. This would mostly affect those in Kindergarten to Fifth Grade. The board discussed the need for more adult supervision during lunch and activity periods while still allowing free time for staff members.  SCSBA recommends that districts adopt an unencumbered time policy and submit such newly adopted policies to the S.C. Dept. of Education prior to July 1st of this year.

The school board voted to transfer $10,000,000 to the Capital Projects Fund, to be used for Building and Capital projects identified by the board. The board then entered Executive Session. When they returned to Open Session, Secretary and board member Charles Govan  moved that the board approve giving a $2,000 Retention/Recruitment Bonus to each Certified Employee and a $1,000 Retention/Recruitment Bonus to each Classified Employee within the Darlington County School District. The measure passed and will soon be implemented.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Darlington County School District will be held on April 17, 2023.

Author: Stephan Drew

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