School board happenings

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By Bill Evans

Even though its summer, there is a lot going on with our schools that will continue to be of significance going forward. First, on the personnel side, Mrs. Mona Lise Dickson has been appointed to fill the vacant position of principal at Lady’s Island Middle School.  I have worked with Mrs. Dickson; she has a strong educational background and is very committed to continuous instructional improvement and a school environment that stresses good discipline. Her work for three years as principal at Whale Branch Middle School resulted in a significant turn around in academic performance and a reduction in disciplinary problems. I expect that she will establish daily monitoring of classes, stress the use of data to help determine instructional approaches and will be a great resource for teachers in identifying new methods for being more effective in their teaching.
The most recent two-day board work session that took place July 21-22 was quite productive. Two areas of special note were the receipt of the task force recommendations on school consolidations and changes in attendance zones and, the approval of a policy to strengthen academic expectations for students who want to represent the schools through participation in extra-curricular activities. On the first issue, I want to thank the volunteer committee of 15 made up of representatives from across all five clusters within the district. This group spent the better part of eight weeks meeting three hours every Wednesday and exchanging numerous emails between meetings. I sat in on two of the five meetings; their deliberations were well-informed and their dedication and concern about the schools was genuine. The board will meet in a special session on Friday, August 5 to discuss the task force recommendations and hopefully take a vote that day. This meeting is open to the public and will probably begin about 9 a.m. and be held at the DESC on Mink Point Blvd. Remember, any decisions will not go into effect until the 2012-13 school year.
The policy on academic performance and extra-curricular participation will be developed by a committee co-chaired by Mrs. Laura Bush from Bluffton and myself. We will be seeking participation from staff members, parents and students, to construct a set of practices that will emphasize higher expectations, and provide a process for identifying and assisting students who want to participate but need additional support to be successful academically. The goal is to ensure that those who participate not only represent the schools as strong students academically but additionally,  that those who have talents that can take them on to other opportunities are not denied because of poor academic performance. These practices will be put into effect for students in grades 6-12.
Some other areas of note from the work session were several votes to delay or eliminate spending on projects that simply are not needed at this time and an overview of many of the new technologies we are using to assist teachers and provide students with more relevant and timely information. The board also solidified a policy on public use of facilities and got a report on the TAP program, a pay for performance program, being initiated in a number of our schools.
We are blessed across the district with numerous volunteers; District 7 certainly has it share as exemplified by the group working on the stadium at Beaufort High School. These volunteers from the Booster Club have made many needed improvements.
With the opening of school right around the corner, I encourage all of you to get involved with our schools. For parents, we know that the school will be more successful but, more importantly, your child will be more successful when you are involved and knowledgeable about school activities and practices. For those of you without children in the schools, please consider volunteering to be mentors or tutors to get some of the work done.

Bill Evans was recently elected to the Beaufort County Board of Education to represent Lady’s Island, District 7