Academic standings reported at BOE

Published 1:25 pm Friday, April 15, 2022

The Sumter County Board of Education held their regular meeting on Thursday, April 14, 2022, in the boardroom at 100 Learning Lane. Superintendent Walter Knighton gave several points of data for the BOE and community to consider. He congratulated the schools on their efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID as the data is reporting only minimal impact over the past three weeks. In total, only 38 students had to be quarantined. During the 2020-21 academic year, the Americus-Sumter County High School reported at least a 25% growth of advanced placement students. Because of this reported growth, the Georgia Department of Education designated the school as an Advanced Placement Expansion School. This news received a round of applause. Enrollment has increased from 3,580 to 3,643 and Knighton reports being “glad and happy to see the numbers going up” and further thanked those who trusted Sumter County Schools (SCS) to educate students. In an after-school tutorial program which began in February and is expected to go through August, 818 students participated by being present and 33 participated virtually. Progress Reports are completed and Knighton presented the standings of those grades. Reading saw a 79% pass rate, English Language Arts saw a 79% pass rate, 74% are passing math, and 78% are passing science. Final grades in the subjects will be determined with a report card. As a way to provide quality assurance the school observes classroom instruction. After observing 150 classes from January to April of 2022, Knighton reports 93% implement a student strategy, 80% clarified learning objective, 89% provide direct instruction and 85% maintain instruction clarity.

The Georgia Department of Education (DOE) provides testing which indicates if the student is under, on or above grade level. While SCS reports data they gather, the Georgia Department of Education also provides testing for all 159 Georgia counties. Knighton reported on what on the DOE discovered. In American literature, 68% of students were meeting the minimum grade level requirements. In biology, 62% of students were meeting the goal. In algebra, 50% were able to perform on grade level and in history 50% of students met the minimum requirements.

The BOE voted unanimously on several items. Sumter County Schools will continue to operate as a “strategic waiver” school. They also agreed to participate in a program which would provide supports to identified students who would benefit. All of the financial reports were approved. One of the pieces of data the financial report covers is the ESPLOST tax, which is a sales tax anyone in Sumter County pays when purchasing goods. The amount of the tax is indicative of the amount of sales which are taking place with the county. ESPLOST also provides a way for our BOE to procure funds without raising property tax. Since it is not a property tax, but rather based on sales of goods, everyone, regardless of property ownership pays into the fund. In addition to it not burdening property owners only, it also allows for out of county persons to pay into a fund which directly impacts our school system. For the month of March, approximately $400,000 was collected. The rolling average for collected ESPLOST is approximately $359,000. ESPLOST money is designated to pay for the new high school. Two new policies were approved. Under the property action, two buses were declared surplus.

In business outside of committees, the BOE approved several contracts and Memorandums of Understanding. One was between the BOE and Ignite College and Career Academy, Payroll Development Authority, One Sumter, South Georgia Tech, Georgia Southwestern and the Chamber of Commerce. Another included Albany Area Primary Health as well as Head Start. Several fiscal incentives were approved to include Governor Kemp’s initiative for teachers, a SCS incentive for substitute teachers and well as the teachers providing tutorial supports. After executive session the BOE agreed to use the same insurance company to provide workman’s compensation insurance. The compensation claims had been a topic of past board meetings as the claims were high which was causing the insurance policy to be high. Rick Barnes reports the claims have lowered and hopes the culture of safety is growing stronger. Despite the lowering number of claims, the insurance did increase over 6%.

After executive session, the BOE approved the personnel recommendations to approve four retirements, 18 resignations, one rescindment of a job offer, five transfers, 17 hires, one long-term sub hire and five family medical leaves. Also approved were the 2022-23 teacher and administrative recommendations.

This meeting along with past meetings are archived on the Sumter County Schools’ Facebook page of the same name. BOE meetings are open to the public and accept public comment. The are located at the central office at 100 Learning Lane. They take place the first Monday and Thursday of the month. The next meeting will be May 2, 2022, at 6pm.