Aiken School Superintendent Dr. Beth Everitt and the School Board officers — Chairwoman Rosemary English and Vice Chairman Ray Fleming – discussed their goals and needs for the Aiken County School District during 2013.

Dr. Beth Everitt

In 2013, students in Aiken County will have a variety of opportunities to challenge and support students’ learning, she said.

“Being well-prepared for college or the workforce remains a major focus,” said Everitt. “However, shaping our youth to be responsible and caring citizens should be just as important.”

Through service-learning, clubs, the arts and athletics, “our students can grow into valued employees, community members and neighbors,” she said. “Thanks to all the staff and volunteers that share their talent and time with our students. In 2013, help Aiken County be as strong in academics, as in character.”

To learn, students must feel safe, Everitt said. Along with local law enforcement, district officials will assess the safety of the schools and will recommend actions to reinforce the security of district facilities and campuses.

“We look forward to working with our parents and community through the next few months,” Everitt said.

Rosemary English

One of the big issues, English said, is that academic improvement continues to function at the highest levels on the SAT and ACT standardized tests, as well as the High School Assessment Program (HSAP) and the state test PASS.

“We will look to have more funding so that we will be able to meet our needs,” English said.

Echoing Everitt’s remarks, the board chairwoman wants all children and employees to be able to work in a safe environment that is conducive to learning.

In 2011, School Board members under the lead of Wesley Hightower established a communications committee — attended regularly by board members, administrators, guests from other districts and community residents.

“We want to keep a very open line of communication, accentuating the positives and also work on improvement,” English said. “We have a good relationship between the schools and the community.”

Ray Fleming

Throughout 2013, Fleming is looking forward to see ongoing facility work at Aiken High School, Jackson Middle School and Busbee Corbett Elementary Middle School. Aiken High is getting a new classroom wing and athletic field house. Jackson is moving forward on a new cafeteria/kitchen and front entrance, while the gym at Corbett is getting a new restroom.

During 2013, North Augusta High School will see the initial construction of a new wing, Fleming said. Ridge Spring-Monetta High School will start new construction toward a long-term process for a middle school wing on the campus.

“We’ve got a lot of activity coming up,” said Fleming. “We want to keep pushing efforts to identify a funding source for our facilities, either a one-cent sales tax or other opportunities.”

He, too, is looking for continued work through the communication committee.

“A new budget is always there, and we have to deal with it,” Fleming said. “We’ll have some uncertainties with it, and I hope we can have some positive trends in the budget that we observed last year.”

It’s also important to continue providing an increasingly rich learning environment for every child, he said.

“That includes the arts, music and chorus,” Fleming said. “It’s a big part of the learning process and if the budget permits it, I’d like to do more of it.”