For about 15 years, Aiken County School District eighth-graders have had the opportunity to get high school credit in math and English.
A statewide policy change will impact some students, but not too many, said King Laurence, the associate superintendent for instruction.
The district Board of Education approved on Tuesday the amended policy, which came down from the State Department of Education.
Currently, a substantial number of eighth-graders in county middle schools who qualify can take Honors Algebra I and Honors English. Those students then earn one of the four math credits required to graduate from high school.
All other eighth-graders now have the opportunity to take English and math classes transitional to high school. Successful completion of those courses will get them a high school elective credit, although they must still take four units of these subjects at high school.
“The State Department had been okay with that, but now we were told to address it, and we agree with that,” Laurence said in a recent interview. “Some students aren’t ready for a high school-level course. They will take regular eighth grade courses, but we don’t expect many students in that third eighth-grade option.”
Still, those students can earn high school electives through such classes as keyboarding, art and music at the high school level.
In other business at the board meeting -
• In his regular legislative update, Board member Keith Liner said the S.C. House Ways and Means Committee’s current budget version would increase K-12 education by $175 million. Of that amount, $56.4 million would go to the Education Finance Act. The Base Student Cost – essentially a per-public allocation – would increase from the current $2,012 to $2,068. Liner cautioned, however, that budget deliberations remain early in the process and will change many times over the next three months or more.
• A tuition tax credit/voucher bill is currently in the Senate Committee on Finance. The potential $36 million bill would provide tax deductions of varying amounts to parents who either would put their child in an independent school, a public school outside his or her district or for home-schooling.
Another measure, Liner said, would provide tax credits for contributions to nonprofit scholarship funding organizations. Such donations would provide grants to eligible students to attend a private school that qualifies.
• Another Senate bill would require public school districts to provide over three years program choices that would include public charter schools, virtual school programs, single-gender and magnet schools.
• Two public participation speakers, Siva Aiken and Debbie Nix, expressed their opposition to a proposed Tax Incremental Financing initiative. The City of North Augusta is seeking the approval of the School Board for the project as a way to pay back $43 million to building a minor league baseball stadium, a conference center and more.
Aiken described North Augusta as a peaceful and quiet community that would see that tranquility impacted negatively by the new development made possible by a TIF effort.
Nix said that the City of Augusta turned down new devolpment and that could lead to North Augusta “replacing a stadium that’s active now,” she said.
“With the economy we’re in right now, I think this (TIF) is speculative. The numbers are a big ‘if.’”
• A third speaker, Michelle Dougherty complained about some issues at a school attended by her son and that the principal and an administrator didn’t respond sufficiently. Board member Wesley Hightower said such issues should go to Superintendent Dr. Beth Everitt, who could then bring it to the Board if necessary.