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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Letter Concerning Foreign Language in Elementary School

One of the areas that was not  going to be funded in the 08-09 budget was the expansion of foreign language in 3rd - 5th grade. We received many suggestions to find a way to get foreign language in the rest of the schools - The administration took that to task and has now found a way to make it happen. With the authors permission, below is an example of a letter the Board received on this topic. I believe in what the author has written and am thankful they took the time to write. I'm also thankful the administration worked hard to find a way to make it happen next year.

Rock Hill School District #3 Board Member
660 N. Anderson Road
Rock Hill,  SC  29731

Dear School Board Member:

            We are writing to express our concern for the possible budget cuts in the area of Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools.  As you are aware, the Rock Hill School District has been phasing in the Foreign Language Program in the Elementary Schools over the past several years.   The program is expected to be phased in at Ebinport, York Road, Mt. Holly, Lesslie, and Olde Point Elementary Schools for the 2008- 2009 school year.   

            While we are thankful for the quality of education our children are receiving at Ebinport Elementary School, there are opportunities they have missed due to timing of district implementations.  Foreign Language is one of those missed opportunities.  While we recognize the need to make budget cuts in certain areas of education due to lack of funding, Foreign Language is not one of those areas.   To not implement Foreign Language in the above mentioned phase in schools in the Fall would be depriving the children who attend those schools of an equal education, thus depriving them of the tools necessary to enter Middle School on a level playing field.

            We believe that if you look at this situation from various aspects an equitable solution could be found to save this program, thus enabling all elementary students in the district the same opportunity to learn a Foreign Language.   While it would be nice to not cut the funding for this program at all, we would like to offer other possible solutions.  One possible solution could be equally distributing current funding for the Foreign Language Program to all the schools, allowing the individual schools to determine where the additional funding should come from.  Another solution would be to use the current foreign language teachers on staff, dividing their hours equally among all the elementary schools.  While I am certain there are other solutions, these are just a few possible suggestions for solving this problem.

            We thank you for considering other options for the Foreign Language Program in the Elementary Schools.  We hope that an equitable solution can be found, affording all children in the Rock Hill School district equal opportunities.  We trust that you will explore all options in order to keep the commitment of phasing in the Foreign Language Program in ALL of the District’s elementary schools by the 2008 – 2009 school year.



Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rock Hill Schools Information For May 28

Compiled by Elaine Baker, Rock Hill Schools District Office

Schools Plan Fundraisers to Save Lives

Sunset Park Elementary will hold a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society on Friday, June 6, from 12:30-1:40 to raise money to support Zac Holford's ride across America. Zac, a friend of program teacher Cassie Cagle, is riding his bicycle 4,167 miles from S.C. to Oregon to raise awareness for the Society. Fourth-graders have planned fundraising efforts for all students at the school, and a number of faculty members have committed to riding their bikes to school on June 6.

Rock Hill High's "Bearcats 4 Life" is inviting district employees to participate in this year's Relay for Life, scheduled from 7:00 p.m.-7:00 a.m. May 30-31 at Winthrop's Belk Track. Employees can walk around the track in support of cancer survivors or they can help through donations to the American Cancer Society. There are many ways to pay tribute to a loved one or friend who's waging war with cancer or is a survivor, and Mary Page, team leader of Bearcats 4 Life, can provide that information.

Saluda Trail Middle School will have its spring festival, "IB Jammin'" from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Thursday, May 29. Great artwork will be on display, and performances by the bands, chorus, dance group, orchestra, and drama classes will certainly please the audience. Academic classes at all grade levels will display student work, and eighth-graders will have an open microphone poetry session.

Dominic Wren, head coach for the boys' soccer team at Northwestern, which won the 4A state championship on May 17,  has been named as the S.C. Soccer Coach of the Year.

Northside Elementary School of the Arts ranks No. 2 in the state, with students in grades 1, 2, and 3 placing first in math.

India Hook Elementary will have "Art Night" from 6:30-8:00 on Monday, June 2.

Rock Hill High will hold a baseball camp June 16-19 for boys and girls ages 9-13. The cost will be $60 for the first child and $55 for the second. For full details, contact Eddie Hill by calling 981-1300/329-5419. 

Curwood Chappell, a member of the York County Council,  made a $1,500+ personal contribution to buy safety patrol equipment for Mount Holly Elementary.

Rock Hill High's Theatre Department, under the direction of Stephanie Daniel, will present the one-act play, Artistic Inspiration by Don Solidis, at 7:30 p.m. June 5. General admission will be $5 and tickets can be purchased at the door. This play was chosen at the Palmetto Dramatic Assn./S.C. Thespian Festival in February to represent S.C. at the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, NE, June 23-29.

Mark Yost, associate director of bands at Northwestern, reports that the Jazz Discovery Music Festival and Rock Hill Schools have been awarded $2,500+ from the Southern Arts Federation (SAF) for the 2009 jazz festival at Northwestern. This is the second year the festival has received funding from the SAF.

May 27 Rock Hill Schools Business Meeting Notes

Action Items:
Approved Susan Cobb as a new assistant principal at Dutchman Creek Middle School, effective July 1.  Vote was 7-0

Approved the Consent agenda items (minutes of the April 28 and May 12 meetings of the board; personnel recommendations;  overnight field trip requests from Rock Hill High and the Applied Technology Center; the administration's recommendation that the board send a letter to the S.C. Department of Education to request that the district's work on curriculum mapping serve as corrective action for the district's failure to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) ratings for the past five years.) Vote was 7-0

Approved a student transfer request. Vote was 4-3 (Douglas, Reid, & Rentschler were against)

Superintendent's Report:
recognized Rebound Director Hank Hammond on his recent induction into the S.C. Chapter of the National Wresting Hall of Fame;

recognized the coaches, staff, and members of the Northwestern Boys' Soccer Team on their May 17 4A state championship.

congratulated  Saluda Trail Middle School and Sullivan Middle School on being approved to offer an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program.

Announced a public forum on the proposed operating budget for the 2008-09 school year will be held at 6:00 p.m. Monday, June 9, in the Board Room in the district office.

the board will hold its next work session on Monday, June 9, in the district office

the school year will end for sixth-graders on June 4 and for all other grades on Thursday, June 5.  Friday, June 6, will be a teacher workday.

High school graduations have been scheduled in the Winthrop Coliseum as follows:
                Rock Hill High – 3 p.m. Friday, June 6
                Northwestern – 7 p.m. Friday, June 6
                South Pointe (its very first graduating class) – 2 p.m. Saturday, June 7
tickets are required for admission to any graduation.  

the Retirement Banquet will be held at 7:00 o'clock on Friday evening, May 30, in The City Club. We expect 35 retirees.

gave a presentation on the proposed operating budget for school year 2008-09. Projected expenditures exceed the projected revenue by more than $3 million. The Board  will discuss the proposed budget at its work session on June 9.  

Stephen R. Duell address the board concerning the proposed expansion of the runway at the Rock Hill Airport to accommodate large jets. Mr. Duell expressed his concern over the safety of our schools near the airport and the effect on education from the increased sound from the jets.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Do SAT Scores Indicate Success?

With the news that Wake Forrest will no longer be requiring SAT/ACT scores, I found this graph of scores vs family income on the Schools Matter Blog. (

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Rock Hill Schools Preliminary Budget Request For 2008-09

The Trustees will be presented with next year's budget projections at the Business Meeting on Tuesday, May 27, 2008. The approximate adjustments from this year's budget are listed below.  There is no increase listed for energy or housekeeping at Mount Holly Elementary.  The budgeted amount for Resource Officer and Test Coordinators seems a little low.  Do you see other items?  There may be cuts from this year's budget – but they have not been shown.  The budget will not be voted on at this meeting.  There will be a public presentation of the budget during the next work session (June 9).  There will be a time for public comment at 6 pm on the 9th.
2008-09 Budget Projections (Preliminary)
2007-08 Budget
Additions for 2008-09
Open Mount Holly Elementary
4 Classroom Teachers
1 Media Specialist
1 Music Teacher
1 Art Teacher
1 PE Teacher
1 Nurse
1 Gifted & Talented Teacher
1 Guidance Counselor
2 Special Ed Teachers
2 Secretaries
1 Technology Assistant
6 Instructional Assistants
1 Reading Recovery Teacher
Total for Mount Holly Elementary
Open Dutchman Creek Middle School
7 Classroom Teachers
1 Media Specialist
1 Instructional Coach
1 Chorus Teacher
1 Band Teacher
1 Strings Teacher
1 Art Teacher
2 PE Teaches
1 School Nurse
3 Special Ed. Teachers
2 Guidance Counselors
3 Assistant Principals
1 Home Arts Teacher
1 Drama Teacher
1 Intro to Careers Teacher
1 Computer Teacher
1 French Teacher
1 Spanish Teacher
1 Health Teacher
1 Remediation Teacher
1 Technology Assistant
5 Secretaries
4 Assistants
6 Custodians
1 Resource Officer
Total for Dutchman Creek Middle
Carryover Positions From Innovation Funds
1 Mentor Coordinator
1 Renaissance Director
2 Renaissance Teachers
2 Phoenix Academy Teachers
4 High School Test Coordinators
Total for Innovation carryover
Special Education
2 Speech Therapists
2 Assistants
2 Resource Teachers
Total for Special Education
Sunset Park Initiative
1 Accelerated Studies Coordinator
Total for Sunset Park Magnet
Teaching Positions Due to Growth
9 Classroom Teachers
Total for Student Growth
Salaries and Fringe Costs
3.85% & 2% step for Teachers, 4% for Support
Salary Adjustments per Compensation Study
Total for Wage Adjustment
Grand Total Budget Request for 2008-09
2008-09 Projected Revenue
Maximum Tax Increase Available - 6 mil
Remaining Deficit

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Are we on the "home stretch" for making public health history in South Carolina? ... or not?


The next several days are, once again, "make-it-or-break-it" days for
achieving any cigarette tax increase in our state this year.

Our state legislators have heard "our" citizen-voices on raising the
cigarette tax for the past eight years (at least); and, finally, the state
General Assembly has spoken in the affirmative this past week !!!

Now, "we" citizens once again must vigorously try to make our governor hear
our voices. Governor Sanford's press releases are all phrased to make us
think he is listening... BUT, he is not hearing us -- the people of South

Consider this:
Death is not "revenue neutral" -- 5,900 South Carolinians die each year
directly caused by tobacco use.

So, why does Governor Sanford keep insisting that an increase in our state's
cigarette tax needs to be "revenue neutral"?

Need some more inspiration?
a.. check out the nicotine cessation educator's "Letter to the Editor"
contribution in today's The State newspaper at:

a.. then, visit and speak your piece
straight to Governor Sanford!
What else?
a.. Yesterday, in Columbia, a large five-day statewide grassroots effort
was launched by a group of preventive health advocates. Their goal: stir
up enough public outcry over the next four days that our governor will
indeed be too embarrassed to "wield his veto pen" at all -- maybe, just
maybe, we can shame him into just letting the bill go un-signed and thus
become law "by default" after the governor's standard five-day signing
period expires (Friday counts as Day One; weekend days count, but the
Memorial Day holiday does not count, I am told).

b.. Please join in on this important effort --
a.. Go right now to the American Lung Association's site

and click on the "Speak Up! Send a Message to
Governor Sanford" link, and submit a "Letter to the Editor" to The Herald!
b.. Let's flood The Herald with our voices, and maybe they'll print a
whole page of our letters one day next week -- given that The Herald's
editorial board has already gone on record yesterday saying "Hike the
cigarette tax" [see: ]
Dum Spiro Spero !
Dr. Dave Keely

Friday, May 23, 2008

Success in High School: 4 Ways to Help 9th Graders

This is an interesting write up from the parenting squad blog: Go to the web address above and check other articles about parenting.


In the past seventeen years, I've known many students who have graduated from high school and have reached personal and professional success. One of my students who graduated in 1989 is now a helicopter pilot for a local rescue squad in Hawaii. Unfortunately, some students did not graduate. Some are struggling. Some are lost. From my perspective, I believe there exist four specific areas which can help produce success for students entering high school as ninth graders.

1. Parents, Shut Up

This epithet sounds coarse and non-productive. Yet, for students to succeed, parents must stop the incessant chatter, nagging, and mindless nattering that fail to recognize that kids need parents to just not say anything.

This concept involves more than simply listening with a tendency toward being a "Yes Man" in a teenager's world. So many students have confided to me over the years that if their parents would just be quiet for 5 seconds and not say anything then a problem that wasn't there would never have existed.

Sometimes parents can't help themselves because they want to help. Teens really appreciate your advice, your ability to listen. But, it's more important to them to verbally dump all they need to say.

I attended many IEP (Individual Education Plan) meetings and Child Study meetings where parents -- with all good intention -- kept asking what was wrong or how can I help? They weren't the average apathetic parent, yet they did not give their daughter or son the opportunity to speak about anything and everything.

2. Organize

Middle school and high school are about as similar as Bob Dylan and Bob Dole. The transition involves a concerted effort from you and your ninth grader. Sitting down and seriously talking about the problems, stresses, social upheaval, peer pressure, workload, and whatever else comes to mind will certainly benefit both of you.

Academically, the most effective way of finding solutions to high school concerns is to become highly organized. From notebooks to study schedules, from breakfast to pens creating an organized, workable high school lifestyle breeds successful students.

- A binder having a folder for handouts and worksheets from each class.

- An agenda/daily reminder for keeping track of assignments and projects.

- A specific, organized place to study without any distractions, such as TV, music, phone.

It is true that now many schools have websites that post assignments and homework. But relying solely on this venue would be a mistake. Kids who take responsibility for their education as 9th graders continue that accountability as sophomores and even college freshman.

3. Goals: Short and Long Term

On the first day of school, each and every year I taught, our class began by creating short and long term goals, both academical and personal. Goal making involves more than just knowing what you want to achieve. It also entails creating a plan of how you are going to achieve that goal and what obstacles might you have to overcome.

I urge all parents to sit down and discuss this with their kids. Most students have no conception of process or obstacle. But once these are known quantities, a sense of manageability enters the realm of high school.

An academic goal of a B+ in Earth Science becomes doable, knowing the how and the problems that could get in the way. A personal goal of making the cheerleading squad has more substantive value.

Finally, this is a strategy that your child can use throughout his entire life; for career, investment, relationships, personal growth.

4. Be There. Really.

At one parent/teacher conference, a father said to me these exact words: "He doesn't need us anymore. He's in high school. He'll do better without us."

Do not believe that for a moment.

Adolescents need to push and bully and test and argue and pull because they do need you. Yes, this is a paradox. And, it's true.

As the stress and pressures of high school increase, adolescents want and need to know that no matter what they do -- positive and negative -- you will be there. They cannot shake you off.

14 year old human beings are not adults. They are teenagers; some more mature than others, but they are still teenagers. Some parents I have been able to persuade, and some parents let their 9th graders dress as if they're 25. Or let them speak as if they, too, had teenage children.

It's not even a matter of quantity vs quality. Teens need to know that when they look into the audience they see your face, your hand, your acknowledgment that everything is going to be all right. Parents represent and symbolize stability; that undergirding of trust.

Students need to understand this on the first day of high school. Knowing they can count on you gives them a sense of calm. It may not be evident. But in those first few months of high school, when so much of their world is different and challenging, success is predicated on the positive presence of parents or parent.

Rock Hill Schools May Business Meeting on Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Meeting of the Board of Trustees

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

6:00 p.m. – District Office Board Room


        I.      Call to Order
                Approval of Agenda

      (Under consent agenda, all action items will be voted on after one motion and second to approve them without discussion.  If a board member wants any action item discussed or voted on separately, the board member, before the agenda is approved, must ask that the action item be moved to the discussion item section.)

    1. Citizen Participation


    III.    Special Business

        1. Recognition of Hank Hammond
        2. Recognition of State Risk Management Award
        3. Recognition of State Champion Northwestern High School Boys Soccer Team 

        IV.     Executive Session - Personnel

        V.      Consent Action Agenda
                A.      Approval of Minutes
                        1.      April 28, 2008, business meeting
                        2.      May 12, 2008, work session
                B.      Approval of Personnel Recommendations
                C.      Approval of Overnight Field Trip Requests (3)
                D.      Approval of State Department Action

        VI.     Communications – Stephen R. Duell (Proposed Changes to York County Air Port)

        VII.    Report of the Superintendent
A.      Announcements

      B.      Budget Presentation

        VIII.   Review of Work Session

        IX.     Action Agenda

        X.      Other Business

    1. Adjourn – Open Session

    XII.    Executive  Session – Student Matter

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