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School Board Members Present Highlights From School Board Conference

Daniel Prince

One-hour executive session at the beginning of meetings is one change implemented from conference

In other highlights from Monday’s school board meeting, Manning Jeter, Mark Ivey, Dr. Jane Wilkes, and Doc Lipsey presented highlights from the annual convention. Jeter said he was inspired by a man who was born without arms from the elbow down or legs from the knee down. The man overcame adversity to join his school’s wrestling team, become a champion weightlifter, and climb tall mountains. He said the breakout session he learned the most from was on removing stress between the governing body and administration. He said it boils down to the school board doing its job of setting policy and directing the superintendent as to what they want, and then get out of the way and let the superintendent and his team accomplish that vision.

Ivey said he attended a breakout session led by the Oconee County school district who recently implemented mandatory swimming lessons for all third-grade students. Since most of the county is bordered by lakes, their district wanted to improve the number of students who knew how to swim in order to keep them safe. The Oconee district partnered with the county and hospital system to build a new YMCA for the community complete with an indoor pool. Over the course of two weeks, all third-grade students go to that pool and receive swim lessons.

Dr. Wilkes said one tip she picked up on that the board will try to adhere to going forward is the idea of putting the executive session at the beginning of the meeting and setting a limit of an hour for discussions. She said that serves to keep the executive session on track. Their executive session Monday lasted an hour and three minutes.

Board chair Doc Lipsey said he attended the breakout session on the modified school calendar, which was presented by Greenwood District 50. He said when they went to that calendar, there was an increase in attendance by students and teachers, fewer teacher vacancies, and some teachers who had previously left the district came back to be a part of the modified schedule. Students still attend school 180 days and teachers still attend 190 days, but there are breaks built into the schedule, giving teachers and students time to refresh themselves.

Superintendent Joey Haney said district leadership would be meeting Tuesday with Greenwood 50 officials to discuss the modified calendar. He said the district has already received feedback from faculty and staff about the calendar, and they hope to get feedback from the community next. He said 2023-2024 would be the earliest they could think about moving to a modified calendar.

Haney said all interactive panels have been installed in schools districtwide. The next step in the district’s technology upgrades will be to install the new visitor check-in system and then to implement the new camera system throughout the district.

He said the district will host a Teacher and Support Staff of the Year banquet on Tuesday, May 3, at 6 p.m. at Sunset Farms to recognize them for the honor they received.

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