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Board of Education votes to extend virtual learning for another nine weeks

The Sumter County Board of Education (BOE) held two meetings the week of December 7-11, 2020. Ultimately the BOE has decided to continue the virtual learning format for the next 9 weeks. The vote was 5-1 with Rick Barnes being the opposing vote and Jim Reid not being present. Dr. Torrance Choates stated he made his recommendation to continue in a virtual manner with “heavy thought and a lot of prayer, and with the cold weather coming up it is important to keep people safe.”

At the earlier work session, Dr. Choates had prepared an extensive presentation on all options available to the students. He remarked that Sumter County Schools (SCS) would be prepared to go completely virtual or offer students the choice of coming back to campus. There was not a lack of opinions on the offerings, and some board members were very vocal on the issue. Rick Barnes remarked on how beautifully the football team had come back to the field. He continued to remark on the success of the basketball team’s return. He succinctly made the point that if SCS can do sports well, it is time to turn to the priority of getting our students back in the classroom as wonderfully as we have gotten our athletes back on the field and court. Abbis Bivins however did not agree with Rick’s sentiment. She presented strong concerns and felt the plan to return the students was not as solid as it should be. Dr. Choates and faculty were able to field the questions presented to them on both options. The BOE was well educated on the options they had to choose from, and virtual option has won out.

In other action, the finance committee presented its reports for approval. Personnel received 1 retirement, 4 resignations, 1transfer, 2 new employees and 5 family medical leaves. Policy Committee submitted additional information to the School Wellness Policy. Property Committee tabled landscaping options and moved to have 2 lawn movers designated as surplus. All these requests passed unanimously.

Meda Krenson was presented with a commemorative plaque and publicly thanks for her 10 years of service to the BOE. Meda has been especially helpful to SCS as she was able to bring to the table her expertise as an architect. In addition to recognizing Meda, SCS has set into motion an initiative to recognize exemplary students. Every nine weeks, one student from each grade is designated as an “Exemplary Student.” According to Dr. Choates, the requirements include “all A’s, excellent attitude and excellent behavior.” The students were recognized with a certificate as well as a yard sign to be displayed at their home reading, “An Exemplary Student Lives Here!” As this is Dr. Michael Busman’s last meeting after 18 years of service, he offered his encouragement to the BOE. “We have done a lot of things and made a lot of progress. We need to keep it going.” Dr. Busman then made himself available to serve in any needed compacity and moved to adjourn the meeting.

To watch the meetings held this week, please visit the Sumter County Schools Facebook page where the events have been archived.