Board of Education hears details of academic performance

Published 1:56 pm Tuesday, November 9, 2021

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Before the meeting moved to setting the agenda, the Sumter County Board of Education (BOE) heard presentations from the Sumter County School’s (SCS) principals. At a prior meeting Walter Knighton presented the academic standing of the students. Data collected indicated a significant drop in accomplishment from last testing period to the current one. Many students are not performing on grade level and performance has declined since the last testing period. As a follow up to this data, the principals gave a breakdown by grade and subject on the status of academic standing. They also addressed some interventions they plan to implement to see the data indicate better success in the future.

After this presentation was made, the different committees presented the items which would require board action. Financial reports were presented and the 2022 amended budget will be balanced. After Jim Reid, chairman of the finance committee, presented the reports he indicates the workman compensation claims are extremely high and will cost SCS a significant amount of money. Reid reports remembering the number indicating claims was at 1.03 when we was elected to the BOE “and it has continually grown.” For the previous year, the number had climbed to 1.10, and has since increased 11 points to 1.21. Reid went on to give a reference on the significance of the number. In his professional field, agricultural construction, which is “considered a dangerous industry,” his score is .81. Reid goes on to report if he had a number of 1.21 he “would be out of business” because the insurance company wouldn’t insure him, or it would cost too much for the company to afford. Reid referred to workman’s comp claims as “being out of hand.” Personnel committee required an executive session. Property committee recommends purchasing a bus for about $110, 000. Technology committee recommends utilizing a grant for Chromebooks, hotspots and other related devices. The cost is about $487,000.

Under old business, sanitation services, which would take place over the weekends, were presented. Management of the employees was discussed, and Knighton reports he will set a plan for the board to consider.

New business brought discussion on the utilization of Americus-Sumter Highschool and the Ninth Grade Academy. Currently the buildings are under an insurance policy. Rick Barnes would like to procure ideas from citizens as to what it should be used for as the taxpayers have paid for the property. Knighton then presented giving staff a $1000 incentive to become fully vaccinated. This could potentially cost about $770,000 and would use citizen’s federal tax dollars as provided in the CARES act. Staff has already received hazard pay, bonus monies and now the BOE will vote upon giving additional monies for staff to become vaccinated. If the employee has already been vaccinated, they will receive the money as well. Knighton states the information regarding vaccination will “be held confidential.” A sixth grade English Language Arts teacher is needed, and a vote will be taken on this hiring decision.

The regular meeting of the Sumter County BOE will be held Thursday, November 11 at 7pm. The meeting, as well as other meetings, can be streamed on Facebook Live on the Sumter County Schools page.