School Board hears construction update
King Laurence, Aiken County school associate superintendent for Instruction and Accountability took time Tuesday night to present the numbers of the recent South Carolina annual district report card to the School Board.
Following good news presented on an audit of the school district’s annual budget, Laurence stood in front of the board and showed the many ways that Aiken County schools are improving.
Among the highlights were Hammond Hill Elementary being named a National Blue Ribbon School and the 2012 graduating class earning a record $41.3 million in scholarships, including one of the state’s two Presidential Scholar awards.
He went on to show how high graduation rates and dropped retention rates, as in when a student is held back a grade, help lead Aiken County to a good growth rating from the state.
“I certainly like the way we’re trending, especially with retention rates,” board member Levi Green said.
Newly appointed board member Tad Barber voiced concern over the drop in SAT scores, asking whether the rise in graduation rates influences the SAT score numbers. His thought-process included the scores are being affected due to more students taking it, and he pointed out whether students who are not college bound should even be taking the test.
“We are trying to prepare all of our students for college and a career,” Laurence said.
The board also heard the status of three construction projects under way at Aiken High, A.L. Corbett Middle and Jackson Middle.
They were told that the Aiken project is ahead of schedule for a Nov. 21, 2013, completion. However, the Jackson project was slightly behind schedule, but the new cafeteria will be put to use right away when it opens early next year.
Board member Keith Liner also proposed for a second straight week that the board adopt a draft resolution regarding sequestration.
The Budget Control Act of 2011 includes a provision to impose a $1.2 trillion budget cut to almost all federal programs, including education, that would become effective on Jan. 2.
The resolution states that the district, “urges Congress and the Administration to amend the Budget Control Act to mitigate the drastic cuts to education that would affect our students and communities, and to protect education as an investment critical to economic stability and American competitiveness.”
Liner said the resolution will be sent to state and national school board associations, as well as local state and national representatives.