Sumter County Schools seeing progress this nine weeks

Published 9:49 am Thursday, April 20, 2023

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Tracy K. Hall

Sumter County Board of Education (BOE) met for their work session on Monday, April 10, 2023, and followed that up with their regular meeting on Thursday April 13, 2023. At the regular meeting Superintendent Walter Knighton presented how the students were doing on core subjects for the third nine weeks of classes. Pass rates were: reading at 77%, English language arts at 80%, which was an increase from 73% last year; math at 74% whereas it was 70% last year; science saw a significant improvement over last year at 87% verses 75% and the students made a good showing in social studies with 86% passing this year whereas they passed 75% last year. Students will be taking the Georgia Milestone Test coming up soon to see how the State of Georgia scores them academically.

Most of the items discussed at the work session which required board action went to the consent agenda. While there are some considerations, next year’s budget is appearing as if it will be six million dollars more than this year’s. Depending upon some funding from the state, some of this may be offset with state dollars. Those costs not offset will have to come out of local funds. As for this month’s financial reports, the numbers are in line with where the system needs to be at this time of the year. However, in a different area it has been determined 96 million dollars’ worth of assets are not insured and the system will incur additional premium cost to reflect the correct property.

Items also discussed at work session included Don Gilman, CEO of Ignite CCA giving an update on the status of the academy. He presented a strategic plan, and reported the Technical College System of Georgia and the Department of Education has performed the CCA’s accreditation visit which takes place every five years. Upon the exit interview, there were six areas which were commended for performance and three which needed additional improvements. They included additional supports for gifted students, continued safety improvement in the area of personal protection equipment and keeping an updated innovative tracker. The TCSG and the DOE also recommended hiring an additional position to address counseling issues. The CCA will be hosting the Southwest CCA meeting in which CCA leadership and technical school leadership will be gathering. In addition to the honor of hosting the event, several students and student groups are being recognized for their achievements on state levels. The CCA continues to utilize and engage the students in work which reflects the work needed in the real world.

Under transportation, the department needs to hire an additional nine drivers. According to the department the earliest rider has to be on the bus about 5:30am and the bus drops off students at about 7:30. In the afternoons, the ride time is also about two hours with the students getting on the bus at about 2:30 and the last student being home by 5:45pm.

The nutrition department gave a report and will need to procure a freezer for several of its schools. Under curriculum the leaders have chosen an option and will also be purchasing Modern Teacher which will tweak the culture to be more student centric and take advantage of technology. The curriculum will allow for individualized education options so all students will be able to achieve success.

In addition to these topics several citizens addressed the BOE in regard to graduation plans. Currently graduation is planned for the Sumter County High School gym, where the graduates will be given eight tickets for their family and friends to attend. The speakers advocated for the location to be changed to a larger venue, perhaps the stadium, where the graduate invitations could be increased.

After an executive session, the BOE accepted six resignations, three terminations, one transfer, two long term subs and seven were hired. Back in open session Patricia Harris was named the Georgia School Board Association delegate and Abbis Bivins will be the alternate. The BOE also approved reimbursements from this summer’s GSBA meeting.

All of the items moved to consent were in fact passed unanimously.

The next work session of the BOE will be on May 8 at 6pm and the regular meeting will be on May 11 at 7pm. All meetings are open to the public and can be viewed in person on 100 Learning Lane. The meetings are also broadcasted on Facebook under Sumter County Schools.