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Saturday, January 31, 2009

The #1 Question

Know the Facts on Education in South Carolina

 The "Begin in '10" plan marks the culmination of two years of work by two task forces appointed by State  Superintendent of Education Jim Rex to make recommendations about reforming and improving the three-decades-old way we fund our public schools and raise  resources to meet the state's priorities, including  education.  So what are the key elements of this plan?


  1. Paves the  way for a new  Foundation Program to ensure that every student receives a high  quality education and that our schools are turning out Twenty-first Century Graduates.
  2. Realigns dozens of individual line items in the budget and creates a new  Student-centered Funding System that ensures that districts and the schools have the flexibility to use resources in ways that best meet the needs of the students in their communities.  
  3. Puts in place a weighting for poverty, because we know that it costs more to educate students who come from impoverished backgrounds.  
  4. Paves the way for raising teacher salaries through a 21st Century Foundation program and reforms the outdated system currently in place that is not adequate for the Twenty-first Century.
  1. Extends full-day four-year-old kindergarten to all at-risk students.
  2. Provides grants to districts for innovative practices that get results.
  3. Creates a Commission to reinvent South Carolina's tax structure.
  4. Establishes a  statewide uniform foundation millage rate to ensure stable local support for public schools..


Q:  Why does South Carolina need this plan?

A:  South Carolina needs a funding system that is adequate, efficient, transparent, secure, and sustainable for the future.  This plan puts the foundation of this plan in place in 2010 and sets the stage for comprehensive reform over the next few years. 


Q:  How can South Carolina afford to do this in this time of economic crisis?

A:  It's South Carolina's well intended but outdated education funding system and tax structure that have, in part, created this budget crisis in the first place.  Yes, we need to address immediate needs, but we can't lose sight of where we need to go as a state.  Comprehensive tax and funding reform is the only thing that gets us there and ensures that South Carolina's public schools are graduating students who are prepared for the Twenty-first Century workplace. 


Q:  So what do I need to ask policy makers to do?

A:  First, in order to address the current budget crisis, the legislature must give flexibility to districts to decide how to spend money to best help kids.  Second, in order to maintain the viability of our public schools, they must restore the cuts that have been made when they design the 2010 budget.  Finally, they must pass the "Begin in '10" plan to put in place a comprehensive system for ensuring fair and adequate funding for the future and 21st Century graduates. .


Funding Reform

2009 Legislative Session




I.    Index of Taxpaying Ability (ITA): Since this calculation no longer is a true indication of what a district's taxpaying ability is (Act 388 sales tax swap on owner occupied homes), replace it with an Index of Support.  This new index would be the calculation used to determine a district's local Education Finance Act (EFA) share and would include the imputed value of owner occupied residential property.

II.  Statewide Uniform Foundation Millage: Require that a statewide uniform foundation millage be instituted in 2011 to replace the Index of Support.  This uniform millage would be determined annually based on the total taxable property in the state and each county would be required to levee a uniform amount.  This millage would be imposed, collected and used by the county to satisfy the district's EFA match.  

III.  Fee-in-lieu-of Agreements: Upon enactment of the statewide uniform foundation millage, all fee-in-lieu-of agreements should be required to, at a minimum, be equivalent to the annually established statewide uniform foundation millage rate required for school operations.

IV.  Pupil Weightings: Add a "Pupils in Poverty" weighting of 0.20 (to be funded to the extent possible with realigned funds); an "Academically and Artistically Advanced" weighting of 0.25 (to be funded to the extent possible with realigned funds); and a "Limited English Proficiency" weighting of 0.60 (not to exceed three years). 

V.  Realign General Fund and EIA Line Items: Realign a total of 41 lines in the Appropriation's Act (8 in the General Fund and 33 in the EIA) and hold districts harmless at the 2010 level of funding.  General Fund realignments should be either added to the base student cost (BSC) or grouped under the categories of adult education and career education.  EIA realignments should be grouped under the categories of academic and artistically advanced, adult education, career education, teacher salaries, pupils in poverty, professional development, innovation, reading, and Education Oversight Committee.

VI.  Innovation Grant Fund: Create the Public School Innovation Grant Program using realigned funds for the purpose of providing grants to school districts for a period of three to five years.  The grants would be awarded to provide support to districts, schools, and communities for implementing innovative measures to address their needs.  

VII.  21stCentury Foundation Program: Require the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) to determine the education components of a 21st Century Foundation Program and the cost of each component.  In addition require SCDE to conduct an assessmentof the appropriateness of the weights currently contained in the EFA.  Require SCDE to report its finds along with relevant data. 

VIII.  Financial Technical Assistance: Require the SCDE to provide training and assistance to school districts on best financial practices and provide them the authority to intervene with fiscal management teams when districts are experiencing fiscal difficulties.

IX.  Act 388: Modify Act 388 so that the tier three reimbursement inflation factor is the same as the inflation factor used to inflate the BSC (wages of public school employees in the Southeast).  Separate the reimbursement increases into two pots: those due to inflation and those due to population increases.  Specify the increases attributable to population increases be distributed using a district's increase in weighted pupil units from the prior year calculated as a proportion of the total increase in statewide weighted pupil units of those districts experiencing growth.  Hold districts harmless when moving to the new calculation.

X.  Early Childhood Education/Four-Year-Old Kindergarten: Codify the Child Development Education Pilot Program (CDEPP) and extend the program, as funds become available, to all at-risk four-year-old children.  Identify a suitable and stable funding stream to insure all at-risk children receive adequate early childhood education.

XI.  Taxation Realignment Commission: Create a commission to conduct a detailed, comprehensive, and careful study of the state's tax structure to make recommendations on an adequate, equitable, and efficient state revenue structure with the goal of maintaining and enhancing South Carolina as an optimum competitor in attracting businesses and individuals to locate, live, work, and invest in this State.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Conversation With A Teacher

Jay Mathews, retired education reporter with the Washington Post, has an interesting article in Friday's paper. Part of the article is below, the rest can be found here.

Why Easy Grading Is Good for Your Career

By Jay Mathews
Friday, January 30, 2009; 6:13 AM

New Jersey high school teacher Peter Hibbard flunked 55 percent of the students in his regular biology class the year before he retired. There were no failures in his honors classes, he said, but many of his regular students refused to do the work. They did not show up for tests and did not take makeups. They did not turn in lab reports. Homework was often ignored.

"Still, the principal told me that the failure rate was unacceptable, and I needed to fix it," Hibbard said. "The pressure to give grades instead of actually teaching increased. A colleague told me that he had no problem. If students showed up, they got a C. If they did some work, they got a B. If they did fair or better on tests, they got an A. No one ever complained, and his paycheck was the same. He was teacher of the year, and a finalist for a principal's job."

I often get helpful letters from teachers. They are fine people who assume I am educable, despite evidence to the contrary. Sometimes, as in Hibbard's case, teachers are so candid and wise I am compelled to quote them, and see if readers share their view of reality.

Here is what Hibbard told me:

"The pop phrase is that 'those who can't do, teach.' I would like any serious critic to spend a month in the classroom. It is easy when you are a guest speaker and don't have to worry about discipline. But do the planning, maintain interest, do practice and review, write and grade a test or three, and then deal with the parents. In your spare time, maintain records, deal with teen angst and crisis, monitor the bathroom (I went to college for this?) and be available for extra help. Break up fights and shouting matches over who loves whom more, and shepherd students to assemblies and fire drills.

"The message comes from the top. When the leadership sets the example, and backs the good teacher, it is so much easier. When I have to justify failing a student who refuses to try, you can only tilt at windmills for so long."

Hibbard taught biology for 27 years. Before that he was a field biologist for the U.S. Agriculture Department and a lobbyist on environmental issues for the housing industry. He thinks his experience in the field was invaluable. When he started teaching he was able to give students practical answers to the frequent question, "Why do we have to learn that?"

He said when his students asked why he left a job in industry for teaching, which paid less, he replied that his reasons were selfish. His students were the citizens who would pay for his Social Security. "The more they learned, the more they earned, and the more they made, the better off I would be when I retired," he said.

To Hibbard, one of the most irksome parts of teaching was leadership that failed to take responsibility for its mistakes. "I was part of a committee to choose a new text series," Hibbard said. "We were given three choices, all terrible, and all from the same publisher. The public was told that the poor choice was because the teacher picked it. We had no options other than the three presented."

In retirement, he is working part time on a program to give prospective teachers some of the real world experience that helped him. I decided to exploit his experience also, by asking his solutions for the apathy and buck-passing he observed. He sent me seven ideas. I am going to play teacher and grade each suggestion, based on wisdom and practicality. Let me know if you agree. These are direct quotes from his e-mail:

Read the rest of the article here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Keith Callicut who is Fort Mill School's Superintendent, Mick Mulvaney, and Herb Kirsh Talk About SC's Budget Woes

Hear Keith Callicut talk about the problem Fort Mill's Schools are having with budget cuts on the Thursday, January 29 Straight Talk show.

Hear South Carolina State Senator, Mick Mulvaney talk about Legislative issues on the January 26 Straight Talk show.

Hear S.C. Representative, Herb Kirsh talk about the problems of budget cuts being minimized if you have a good manager. His comments were made on the January 19 Straight Talk show.

Straight Talk is heard Monday - Friday on Rock Hill's WRHI radio station - 1340 am

South Carolina is Best in Nation for Evaluating New Teachers

The State Newspaper is reporting today ,results from a National Council on Teacher Quality report show that South Carolina is the best in the nation for evaluating teachers. It's good to know that in addition to the toughest academic standards, we also have the best teacher evaluation process.

Rock Hill Schools Starting Cost Saving Contest For Employees

The Rock Hill School System is starting a cost saving contest for employees starting February 1. If you have some good ideas, pass them along to an employee and help them win a prize.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

January 29, 2009 York County BOARD OF TRUSTEES WORK SESSION Agenda


The Cotton Factory

January 29, 2009

6:00 PM


Reclaiming Public Education by Reclaiming Our Democracy

Welcome............Gary Williams, The Cotton Factory

Chris Revels, York School District One Chair

Introduction of Board Members....................Board Chairs

Introduction of Chamber Members.Rob Youngblood, York County Regional Chamber
of Commerce

Introduction of York County Delegation ..Representative Herb Kirsh, South
Carolina General Assembly

Blessing.......... Bob Norwood, Rock Hill School Board Chair

Prelude to Dialogue ....... Lynn Moody, Superintendent, Rock Hill Schools

~Dinner Discussion~

First Course - Soup

Are public schools accountable to a democracy and not just parents and

Second Course - Salad

Is there a public for public schools?

Third Course - Entrée

How can a democratic public forum work to improve education?

Final Course - Coffee & Dessert

Who is accountable for education?

Closing Remarks .......Senator Wes Hayes, South Carolina General Assembly

Franklin Pendleton,
Clover School Board Chair

Nevada System of Higher Education State of the System (Part 1)

Rock Hill Schools Board Meeting Surprise

A lot of School Board meetings go kind of slow. I don't mean boring, just slow. We had a treat during our last meeting from the folks at Finley Road Elementary School. Although you could say it was at the Board Member's expense. I've been getting comments all day about the picture they did for me (above). They also put together a video, with Finley Road Students explaining what Board members are and do. Watch the future stars of tomorrow below:

January 26 Rock Hill Schools Business Meeting Notes

At the Rock Hill School Board business meeting on Monday, January 27, 2008 the following Action was taken:

approved by a vote of 7-0 the consent agenda consisting of; the minutes of the Nov. 24, Dec. 8, and Jan. 12 school board meetings; personnel recommendations; overnight field trip requests submitted by Northwestern; distribution of Trustee Jim Vining's compensation for January through June to the high school math departments and to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library; and approved indefinite delivery contracts as authorized by procurement regulations

approved by a vote of 7-0 a request from World Changers to use facilities at Rock Hill High during their visit in Rock Hill June 20-27;

approved by a vote of 7-0 a request from Lesley University to use the Flexible Learning Center on designated Fridays and Saturdays from Feb. 2009 to October 2010 to offer a master's degree program in the areas of Technology in Education and Curriculum and Instruction (Literacy and Arts);

Approved by a vote of 7-0 the second reading of policies KF (Community Use of School Facilities), KCA (School-Community Relations Goals/Priority Objectives), IHBH (Charter Schools), IJJ (Textbook Selection and Adoption), ILBB (State Program Assessments), GCF (Professional Staff Hiring), GDF (Support Staff Hiring), JFAA (Admission of Resident Students), JJ (Student Activities), and JJI (Student Athletics);

Other business conducted:

recognized the South Pointe High School Varsity Football Team as the South Carolina Division 2, 4A Football Champions;

Recognized former members of the Rock Hill School board for their service to the community as part of School Board Appreciation Month. Current members received a packet of letters and/or proclamations from the schools, expressing their appreciation to the board for its service. In addition, board members watched an entertaining video prepared by the students at Finley Road Elementary on the topic "What is the board of education?" Additionally, two former School Superintendents, Dr. Gentry and Dr. McDaniel were recognized.

heard Supt. Moody make the following announcements:

The next Community Chat will be held on Wed. morning, Feb. 4, at Durango Bagel in the Millwood Shopping Center on Herlong Ave. Any citizen who wants to talk about the Rock Hill Schools can join the superintendent between 7:30-9:00.

The next work session of the school board will be held at 5:30 p.m. on February 9 in the media center at Dutchman Creek Middle School with Principal Norris Williams as host.

Friday, Feb. 13, will be the make-up day for school missed on January 20.

Pending no more bad weather which causes school to be canceled, all schools and offices will be closed for Presidents' Day on Mon., February 16.

The 25th anniversary of the Rock Hill School District Foundation will be celebrated at its annual Gala on Thursday evening, March 5, at Rock Hill High School. Tickets are now on sale.

The Board will participate in a joint meeting with the other York County School Boards, the Chamber of Commerce, and the local State Legislative Delegation on Thursday, January 29 at the Cotton Factory in Rock Hill.

Assoc. Supt. Harriet Jaworowski talked about the district's Response to Intervention (RTI) Plan. She stated that this plan summarizes the opportunities schools will use to intervene and help students who need academic or behavioral assistance. A publication, Academic Assistance for Elementary, Middle, and High School Students: A Guide for Parents, will be available to schools and parents this week.

Dr. Jaworowski discussed preparations being made for a visit Feb. 23-25 by a 10-member review team from the Southern Assn. of Colleges and Schools as part of the process the district will undergo to acquire district-wide accreditation. The board has scheduled a called meeting at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 25 to hear the report from the review team. The self assessment can be found here.

Tammy White, principal of Sunset Park Elementary, and Richard Pickering, coordinator of the accelerated studies program, reported on the progress the school has made toward the school becoming the Center for Accelerated Studies. You can get an application here, or read the brochure here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Few SC High School Boys Soccer Statistics has some interesting statistics on South Carolina High School Boys Soccer. Here are a few of them:

2001-08 Postseason Rankings
10 = Champion, 8 = Runner-Up, 5 = Semifinals, 3 = Quarterfinals, 2 = 2nd Round, 1 = 1st Round

Class 4A
1. Northwestern, 53
2. Irmo, 51
3. Wando, 39
4. Spring Valley, 38
5. Dorman, 28
6. Ridge View, 24
7. Mauldin, 22
8. South Aiken, 20
9. Summerville, 18
10T. Dutch Fork, 16
10T. Lexington, 16

Best Winning %

Class 4A
1. 86.3%, Wando, 328-49-7
2. 86.2%, Irmo, 314-50-1
3. 78.6%, Spring Valley, 295-77-9
4. 77.6%, Northwestern, 288-83-1
5. 75.6%, Summerville, 273-83-15
6. 71.0%, Mauldin, 251-101-5
7. 69.3%, Hillcrest, 240-106-2
8. 67.1%, Fort Mill, 227-109-8
9. 67.0%, Dorman, 235-115-3
10. 66.0%, Greenwood, 223-114-3
11. 66.0%, James Island, 230-117-6
12. 64.3%, Dutch Fork, 237-129-11
13. 63.8%, Ridge View, 194-109-4
14. 63.6%, West Florence, 210-120-2
15. 63.1%, Lexington, 216-125-7

Postseason Prowess - 20 teams have earned more than 30 points the past eight years in postseason play ... Christ Church (80) and Bishop England (74) lead the way as three other teams have eclipsed the 50-point plateau: Northwestern (53); Emerald (52); and Irmo (51).

1. Northwestern, 7.63
2. Spring Valley, 7.11
3. Eastside, 6.20
4. Riverside, 5.90
5. Irmo, 5.89
6. Chapin, 5.57
7. Lexington, 5.48
8. Wando, 5.36
9. Dorman, 5.05
10. Socastee, 4.96

1. Northwestern, 6.38
2. Spring Valley, 5.26
3. J.L. Mann, 5.17
4. Eastside, 4.95
5. Irmo, 4.93
6. Socastee, 4.91
7. Riverside, 4.75
8. Pinewood Prep, 4.69
9. Wando, 4.63
10. Dutch Fork, 4.63

The Reality of Low Achievement

The "Thoughts on Education Policy Blog" has an interesting opinion on low achievement. A sample,

"When somebody argues that we should improve students' lives outside of school to improve their performance, they're not making excuses or being a defeatist. Likewise, when somebody says that schools can make a big difference, they're not being wholly unrealistic. Rather than calling each other names we should be working to improve schools. And everybody needs to remember that although a school is not usually the largest influence on the life of a child that it doesn't mean that a school cannot do an awful lot of good."

This post is worth your time to read and make your own decisions. You can find it here.

What School Superintendents Are Doing To Meet Budget Cuts

The American Association of School Administrators has release a study of the top things School Superintendents are doing to meet the current school financial crisis. Those are:

When superintendents were asked to identify what actions their districts have already implemented as a result of the economic downturn, the top responses were:

  • Altering thermostats (62 percent)
  • Eliminating non-essential travel (57 percent)
  • Reducing staff-level hiring (48 percent)
  • Reducing consumable supplies (48 percent)
  • Increasing class size (36 percent)
  • Deferring maintenance (36 percent)
  • Reducing instructional material (35 percent)

The top actions superintendents have considered but not yet implemented as a result of the economic downturn are:

  • Freezing outside professional service contacts (30 percent)
  • Laying off personnel (30 percent)
  • Eliminating outside staff development consultants (30 percent)
  • Eliminating field trips (35 percent)
  • Cutting non-academic programs (such as afterschool and Saturday enrichment programs) (26 percent)

When superintendents were asked about the economic-related problems of the families of students in their districts:

  • Ninety-five percent said unemployment has worsened somewhat or a great deal.
  • Ninety-four percent said lack of health insurance has worsened somewhat or a great deal.
  • Ninety-one percent said student mobility has increased somewhat or a great deal.
  • Eighty-eight percent said mortgage foreclosures have worsened somewhat or a great deal.
  • Seventy percent said homelessness has worsened somewhat or a great deal.
You can read the full report here.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sunset Park Report to Headline January Rock Hill Schools Business Meeting

The January Business Meeting for the Rock Hill Schools will be on Monday, January 26, 2009 beginning at 6:00 PM (District Office). A progress report on Sunset Park Elementary's status for being a Giften and Talented school will be discussed.

The proposed agenda is below:
Meeting of the Board of Trustees
Monday, January 26, 2009
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.)

II. Citizen Participation

III. Special Business
A. Recognition of SPHS Varsity Football Team, the State 4A Football Champions
B. Recognition of Rock Hill School Board for National School Board Month
C. Recognition of Rock Hill School Board by York County Education Association

IV. Consent Action Agenda
A. Approval of Minutes
1. November 24, 2008, business meeting
2. December 8, 2008 work session
3. January 12, 2009 work session
B. Approval of Personnel Recommendations
C. Approval of Overnight Field Trip Requests (3)
D. Approval of Distribution of Jim Vining’s Compensation – Jan.-June 2009 (Math Departments at Northwestern, South Pointe, Rock Hill High, and Imagination Libraries)
E. Approval of Indefinite Delivery Contracts

V. Communications

VI. Report of the Superintendent
A. Announcements
B. Response to Intervention
C. Southern Association of College and Schools Accreditation Report
D. Update on Sunset Park Accelerated Studies

VII. Review of Work Sessions (2)

VIII. Action Agenda
A. Use of Facilities Request – World Changers
B. Use of Facilities Request – Lesley University
C. Approval of Policy KF – 2nd Reading
D. Approval of Policy KCA – 2nd Reading
E. Approval of Policies IHBH, IJJ, ILBB – 2nd Reading
F. Approval of Policies GCF, GDF – 2nd Reading
G. Approval of Policies JFAA, JJ, JJI – 2nd Reading

IX. Other Business
X. Executive Session – Property Matter
XI. Adjourn

Rock Hill School's News for Friday, January 23

By Elaine Baker

"Courage in Crisis"
On Feb. 10 from 7:00-8:00 p.m. in the auditorium at Rawlinson Road, Bill and Tena Neely will present "Courage in Crisis," their personal story on having a mentally ill child. Tena retired as principal of Rawlinson Road in June 2006 and was shot by her daughter days later. Bill and Tena will share the lessons they've learned through tragedy and triumph.

First-Year Enrollment
Feb. 23 through March 6 are the dates for enroll-ing new students ages 4, 5, and 6 for 2009-2010. Applications will be available at Central, all elementary schools, and at the district office each school day between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

Fundraiser to Benefit Teacher

A spaghetti dinner fundraiser is planned for Thursday evening, Jan. 29, from 5:30-8:00 to benefit the family of Elisha Miller, a reading recovery teacher at Belleview. Elisha's son, Hudson, was born in October 2008 and diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. To help with medical expenses, Elisha's colleagues held a successful fundraiser on Dec. 15 at Durango Bagel. However, this second fundraiser will be held in the Magnolia Room at Laurel Creek). Tickets, at $8, will be available through today (1/23) by contacting Kathi Ross at Belleview. There will be a silent auction.

Sullivan Middle School will host a "free" gang awareness seminar for parents at 7:30 p.m. Mon., Jan. 26. Sponsored by the Guardian Ad Litem Foundation, the program will feature detectives from Rock Hill and York County law enforcement.

The SPHS Varsity Football Team will be honored by the High Schools Sports website MAX PREPS and the Army National Guard during halftime at the boys' varsity basketball game on Jan. 30. Only 30 of the nation's teams (out of 15,000), are being honored.

Teachers and staff at Finley Road will be servers at McDonald's (Heckle & Herlong) from 5:00-8:00 Jan. 27.

Jo Ann Wishert, music teacher at Old Pointe, is the recipient of two grants: a $600 Target Field Trip grant for her project "Generations United Through Music" and $200 from the Woman's Club of RH for the project, "Swinging and Singing with Seniors." Jo Ann's choral students often perform at assisted living facilities in Rock Hill for senior citizens.

South Pointe's student newspaper (SPIN) swept the S.C. Excellence in Scholastic Newspaper Awards for first semester.

In light of the recent controversy involving peanut butter, the district's supplier of peanut butter is not involved in any recalls or holds. However, until the controversy is resolved, our district will temporarily cease to offer peanut butter.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rock Hill Schools To Get Increase in Federal Funds

The Congressional Research Service  estimates that the Rock Hill Schools education funding from certain aspects of the American Recovery and Reinvestment bill,  specifically, the bill's program allocations  for Title I, IDEA, and K-12 School Modernization will increase by $7.046 million in 2009 and $3.79 Million in 2010. This is based on current data and may not reflect exact allocations when these funds are actually allocated.

Poverty and brain function

The National School Board Association Blog has some interesting information on how poverty impacts learning. An example:

The study, which will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, suggests that the difference in brain function between low income children and their economically stable peers can represent a gap that rivals the difference between a stroke survivor’s brain and a healthy one. Now that is a big difference!

it’s not up to schools to end poverty among their students. But BoardBuzz believes schools are in a good position to curb the effect that poverty has on the brains of children. For instance, BoardBuzz has seen how much schools can accomplish by providing healthy meals, increased opportunities for physical activity, and access to counseling and psychological services. Schools can better coordinate such programs by implementing Coordinated School Health Programs, an eight component model promulgated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Adolescent and School Health.

You can read the article here.

Myron Rolle on CNN

South Pointe School Improvement Council Urges Parental Involvement in State Budgetary Matters

January 23, 2009


South Pointe High School

School Improvement Council

Lori McDermott, Chairperson 2008-09

                                                                                                                                        January 23, 2009

Dear South Pointe Parents,

            The South Pointe School Improvement Council (SIC) is an organization composed of parents, students, and school faculty representatives that is charged with numerous responsibilities.  One of the primary responsibilities of the SIC is to work closely with the administration to ensure that goals and objectives developed in the School Improvement Plan are monitored and addressed.

            Through discussions at our monthly meetings, the SIC has become concerned about the impact of the national and state economic crisis upon our school district and its individual schools.  Due to budget cuts at the state level earlier this year, our school district asked school principals to decrease expenditures and, as a result, funding typically provided to support teachers and student programs has been reduced.  More recently, there are indications that there will be additional and more substantial cuts at the state level that threaten to have an even more significant impact on the district’s finances.  These budget cuts will again trickle down to the school level.

            Unlike many districts around the state, Rock Hill School District Three is fortunate to have emergency reserve funds that will allow it to better absorb these unanticipated budget cuts this school term; however, our major concern is that there are currently discussions at the state level that indicate that the cuts will continue into next year.  If this were to happen, it could result in increased class sizes, reduced funding for busses and textbooks, cutting of programs, etc.  In addition, in order to offset costs, there is a possibility that students may be charged a fee for participating in extracurricular activities.  Each of these possibilities will negatively impact our students. 

            While we understand that our state is experiencing an economic decline, we are concerned that public education will continue to receive significant reductions in funds that will counteract many of the positive strides that have been made in our schools.  At some point in the near future, the South Pointe SIC will sponsor a forum at which we will give you an opportunity to learn more about the situation.  In the meantime, we encourage you to contact your state representatives and encourage them to avoid decisions that will negatively impact our students.  To identify and communicate with your state representatives, visit click here.  A link is available through the school’s website.  Now is the time to take action before these important decisions are made.


                                                                                    The South Pointe SIC

Tuesday "Snow Day" To Be Made Up on February 13 For The Rock Hill Schools

Friday, February 13, will be a school day for the Rock Hill Schools, replacing the day school was closed because of snow on January 20.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Rock Hill High's Asa Watson Chooses North Carolina State

From the Raleigh News & Observer:

TE Watson chooses N.C. State

Asa Watson, a tight end from Rock Hill High in South Carolina, said Monday that N.C. State’s coaching staff articulated some interesting plans for him before he committed to the Wolfpack.

Watson said that includes playing some of what the staff calls a “Tiger” or “H-back” position that would allow him to split out wide and play all over the field as he matures.

"They really did a good job of explaining how they wanted to use me,” Watson said.

Duke and Maryland were the other finalists for Watson, who’s 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds. He said Rock Hill didn’t throw much, but he had about 18 catches for 400 yards with a touchdown as a senior.

His brother, Ben Watson, played at Duke, transferred to Georgia and now plays for the New England Patriots.

“He always told me that no one can make my decision, that I have to make my decision for myself,” Watson said.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Casino Night Fund Raiser to Help York County's Free Medical Clinics

Be sure to put February 20th down for the York County Alliance  Fundraiser For Free Medical Clinics to be held at Laurel Creek.

The Resource Centers (or the Pediatric Free Clinics) have been open for  five years in Rock Hill, Fort Mill, York, and Clover.  They are staffed by Drs. Start and Bonham and Hsu.  Their goal is to provide  pediatric medical care to children who do not have any health insurance.  Patients are often children of parents who are working (sometimes several jobs) and make too much for Medicaid, but are unable to pay for  a visit to a physician and the medications prescribed without some help.

The Centers are run by the Early Learning Partnership of York County and managed by Rock Hill Pediatrics. They partner with the four school systems of York County, the International Center of York County, ParentSmart, Catawba Mental Health for family counseling, many local dentists and medical subspecialty groups,

Through these partnerships, nearly 5000 children in the York County area have been provided  medical care and  issues that might affect a child's physical or mental health and school success. 

Funds raised on Casino Night (FEBRUARY 20 7-11 P.M.!!!) will be used to help patients cover costs of medications, nebulizers, radiologic studies, labs, and referral visits when necessary.

Tickets can be purchased in advance for $30/ticket ($25 for Alliance members) by mailing your check to:

Rhea Hsu
4284 Rambling Rose Ln.
Rock  Hill, SC  29732

Tickets will be $35 at the door.


More on Rock Hill's Ashley Shepard

Shepard an A-plus Student-Athlete
Courtesy: NC State


RALEIGH, N.C. – Ashley Shepard never sweats the arrival of mail at the end of each semester.

After three-and-a-half years at NC State, the mailman always brings the same news when grades are announced: another round of A-pluses.

The senior gymnast from Rock Hill, S.C., is one of 21 NC State student-athletes who currently carry a cumulative grade point average of 4.0. If she can continue that through her final semester this spring, when she completes her degree in microbiology, she will become the third consecutive Wolfpack gymnast to earn valedictorian honors at spring commencement.

The other two, Brooke Outland and Mackenzie Payne, were both roommates of Shepard at one time during her college career, and she credits them for creating an academic atmosphere and fueling her drive to be successful in the classroom. Both have since enrolled at the University of North Carolina, Outland in law school and Payne in dental school.

“They were awesome,” said Shepard, a three-time All-East Atlantic Gymnastics League Academic Selection and a three-time member of the All-ACC Honor Roll. “Brooke was a senior when I was a sophomore and we roomed together, then when she left Mackenzie and I roomed together. I have always been in that environment. It was especially good to have Mackenzie there. She was in a lot of my classes, so we could converse.

“She was just as driven as me to do well.”

The mailman recently brought Shepard some other good news: her acceptance letter to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, where she will spend the next three years working on a medical degree in physical therapy.

Though Shepard has never been injured during her gymnastics career, Shepard says watching her teammates go through difficult rehabilitations inspired her to pursue physical therapy.

“I didn’t know that is what I wanted to do until my sophomore year here,” Shepard said. “I did a little bit of research and found that I liked it. I also saw what my teammates have been through and I have seen it work. I know how much it helps get someone back competing again.”

Shepard knows that there are no guarantees that she will have another perfect semester. But she says there have only been a few classes in her college career that really made her sweat whether she would receive an A or an A-plus. Both organic chemistry classes were hard for her, but everything else was fairly intuitive.

“There is a little bit more pressure than before, just because it is the last semester and I don’t want to screw it up now,” Shepard said. “But I think I will be okay. I haven’t come close yet to not getting an A.”

That doesn’t mean she hasn’t had to work hard to get all of her grades. Gymnasts follow a rigorous workout schedule and, like all student-athletes, Shepard had to be well-organized and motivated.

“I have never turned in anything late, but I have pulled some all-nighters,” said Shepard. “I always have to be on top of things to make sure I get ahead, especially when there are things I might not be around for when I am traveling with the team.

“I try to turn things in early. It gets a little hectic when we are working hard in the gym or going somewhere, just to keep up with it all.”

Gymnastics coach Mark Stevenson praises Shepard’s work ethic, in the classroom and in the gym. She arrived as a walk-on, but earned a scholarship after her sophomore season. She has been a consistent contributor throughout her career, particularly in her best event, the floor. She competed in every meet on floor as a freshman and was an All-EAGL selection on floor as a freshman and sophomore.

“She does everything we have ever asked her to do and she does it correctly,” said the coach, who has four members of his team carrying a 4.0 grade point average at the moment. “The thing about gymnastics is that, bottom-line, we don’t have professional athletics for our kids to go to. Generally speaking they are going to go out and get a job and use their degree to be highly functional people in our society in a short period of time.

“I think Ashley is going to be very successful in life.”

Shepard has also competed on vault during her career, but right now, the floor is her only event, as the Wolfpack welcome in nine talented freshmen who have worked their way into the lineup in various events. Shepard and fellow seniors Elyse Adams and Dru Davis are expected to provide leadership throughout the season.

“I will lead by example on the floor, but otherwise I will be a cheerleader and motivator on the sidelines in the other events that I am not specifically competing in,” Shepard said. “You can be a leader in a lot of different ways. You don’t have to compete in every event.”

And, as a leader, Shepard is likely to get another A-plus.

Ashley's State Information

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

SC Representative Carl Gullick Talks About South Carolina's Financial Woes

Representative Carl Gullick talks about ACT 388 and other finance issues on the January 12 eddition of Straight Talk. Listen to this episode of WRHI's Straight Talk Show.

Dr. Russell Booker is Going Home

Dr. Russell Booker, Superintendent of the York School District, turned in his resignation at Tuesday Nights York School Board Meeting, effective at the end of this school year. Dr. Booker will be going back to his home county of Spartanburg. I have worked with Russell on the Early Learning Partnership Board and this is a great loss for York County, though we can celebrate Spartanburg County's gain. He is one of South Carolina's rising stars. You can read his resignation letter to the board here, and write ups on his departure in the Rock Hill Herald and the Spartanburg News Journal.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Rock Hill's Maners Honored as Clemson's Scholar-Athlete

2004 Northwestern High School Graduate and Rock Hill Native Jimmy Maners was honored at a luncheon as Clemson's Scholar Athlete. In the picture with Jimmy is emcee Tim Brando. Jimmy punted for the Tigers while working on a graduate degree this year and is the son of Mike and Tammy Maners. (Information from The Orange & White)

The Not-So Grumpy Old Men

The Grumpy Old Men walking. L to R: Dan Davis, Bruce Garner, Coach Billy Parker, Gary Partlow, and Walter Brown, wearing sweatshirts given to them as a gift from athletic director Billy Parker. Photo by Allison Shank (GBG)

by Katherine Brown
sports co-editor of The Garnet Black & Gold, the newspaper of The Rock Hill High School Bearcats.

From the scorching mornings of summer to the frigid afternoons of winter, a
group of dedicated and determined men hit the track each day to walk their way to better health.

The self-acclaimed Grumpy Old Men walking club consists of three to five men
varying each day. Each man, a different story and a different reason to walk.

The regulars, athletic director Billy Parker, school board member Walter Brown and retiree Gary Partlow have been friends for ages.

Parker has suffered from a minor stroke and is battling diabetes. Brown had triple bypass surgery over the summer and Partlow is currently in remission of colon cancer.

Each of them is on the track each day to get in shape and walk their way back to perfect health.

"We're just friends helping friends " Parker said.

Parker and Partlow agree that the club is very exclusive. "You have to be a fan of Dancing With the Stars and be able to walk but if you're in a wheel chair, I'm sure we can accommodate," Parker said.

Partlow has different eligibility requirements. "To qualify you have to have had heart surgery, colon cancer, diabetes, or just be plain grumpy," Partlow said.

The regular group is occasionally joined by assistant wrestling coach Dan Davis and owner of Tom's Body Shop, Bruce Garner, Gamer was diagnosed with diabetes about a year ago and according to Partlow, Davis is just plain grumpy.

The men walk about 30 minutes to an hour each day depending on the weather and each person's schedule,

Everyone tries to make it each day so no one has to walk alone. "It's more or less an agreement but occasionally somebody fails to show," Brown said.
Anyone is welcome to join the Grumpy Old Men, although the men jokingly agreed that they would rather not extend the welcome to their wives. They would love it if others decided to join them. "We've got more room out there," Parker said.

I decided to go on a walk with the men one day to see what they're all about.
Their walks begin with the race to get to the track first. "We have competitions everyday. Whoever gets here [the track] first gets lane
one. Its the shortest," Brown said.

The winner is rarely anyone other than Brown. Lane two is normally occupied by Partlow and Parker claims lane three. Occasionally, Brown waits for the rest of the group to arrive but usually begins his walk alone.

When the remainder of the men arrive, their daily gossip session begins. As they make their way around the track the men talk about everything from
school, politics, the economy, all levels of sports and their favorite topic, 'Dancing with the Stars.'

According to the men, they solve the world problems out there on the track. "If people would just listen to us, the world would be a better place," Parker said.

The Grumpy Old Men follow the same routine each day and have grown rather fond of it. "I don't think there is any other track out there we would want to go to," Partlow said.

Although Partlow likes the location and atmosphere of their walks, Parker has a few ideas to "change it up a bit. "I would really like to move it to the beach or the mountains once a week or maybe even go on tour with 'Dancing with the Stars'," Parker said.

The men began walking at a slow pace but can now walk about 3 miles in an hour.

I asked the men if they had any hopes to jump the hurdles anytime soon and got very different responses. "We're grumpy old men, not stupid old men," Parker said. Partlow was a bit more hopeful, "Not this year, I might wait until next year when I get in better shape," Partlow said.

When their walk nears the end, the men are not in any rush to leave. They remain in the parking lot as they wrap up their debates over the latest 'Dancing with the Stars' episode.

"I really like the fellowship and health benefits of getting out here and walking everyday," Brown said. This is a common opinion among the Grumpy Old Men.

"We all have one thing in common, we love the Rock Hill Bearcats and would do
anything for the school," Parker said.

They have not only gotten in better shape but created a bond that will last a
lifetime. Founded on 30 minutes a day, this group shows the meaning of true friendship and the commitment that goes along with it.

Taking exams after Winter break is bad

An editorial from The Garnet Black & Gold, student newspaper of the Rock Hill High School Bearcats.

Since the school calendar has changed, so has the time when students take their exams. Instead of taking exams before you get out for Winter break, you take them a couple weeks into the New Year. Because of this change, many students feel stressed when they come back from break.

We feel that taking exams after Winter break is bad. Many students relax over break and don't want to study for their exams.

We agree with Ryan lowers, senior, about the policy.

"I think it's kind of silly to go for two weeks and do absolutely no type of
school related activities at all," Jowers said, "They say we should be studying, but let's be realistic, no one is going to have the time or want to do that."

Students are basically given the choice to study over break or do badly on
their upcoming exams.

"I don't like taking exams after break because most people, like me, will not
study over break because you just want to relax," Cole Hancock, sophomore, said.

Teachers also feel pressure to try and review the entire curriculum of the year in a limited amount of time.

Some students feel that the break is an opportunity to study for the upcoming

"I don't like taking exams after the break, but we do have more time to study, which is good," Elizabeth Fabian, junior, said.

New Years is usually a chance to start over new and make new resolutions.
But, since students are going back to the same classes, they don't have the
opportunity to start over new and make better grades.

We can't change the fact that the exam schedule has been changed, but most
students feel that the policy is not a good idea.
Students can thank the South Carolina legislators for this change.

Rock Hill Schools Discuss Budget Woes

Tuesday's Rock Hill Herald has a good summary of the Rock Hill Schools Work session on Monday, January 12, 2009. You can read their recap here.

In a brief summary, the board asked the administration to transfer capital fund money into the operating reserve to replace almost $3 million of operating reserve that had been spent on capital projects over the past two years. This would negate some of the classroom cuts that have been implemented or proposed by the administration for this year. This idea was first suggested by the board in June of 2008. In a room full of Principals, apparently at the administration's request, the board heard the administration say they would rather spend the capital money on parking lots, and bleachers than restore money to the school budgets. Never-the-less, the administration agreed to check with our bond attorney to see if the transfer of funds could be done legally (although they acknowledged they were aware of other districts doing so). On a positive note, if conservative budgeting holds true to past years, there is a good chance we will have enough revenue to finish the year with a balanced budget and not have to go into the reserve fund.

If current state spending cuts hold up for next year, and no one is saying they will not, next years budget will be much more difficult to balance than the board has been told. For starters, we will not be going into the year with a $4 million dollar surplus from the previous year. That alone is the equivalent of 66 teaching positions. Not that the budget has to be balanced on teaching positions - and indeed it shouldn't be. This should be the last place to look for balancing the budget.

Other items covered during the meeting were; Phil Leazer gave an update on the "2010 Pennies for Progress"; the administration gave their recommended companies for Architectural & Engineering Indefinite Delivery Contracts; and Belleview teachers and students gave an update on some of the programs and activities going on at their school.

Ashley Shepard Succeeding at NC State

The Rock Hill Herald has a nice article in Tuesday's edition on Ashley Shepard, a 21-year-old N.C. State University senior and 2005 Northwestern High School Graduate. You can read about her accomplishments here:

Monday, January 12, 2009

Band Fish Fry This Weekend

Nite of Champions - April 24, 2009

More Correspondence

This email was sent to all Board Members concerning our budget situation.
Dear School Board members:

I sat through a draft budget presentation last spring, and saw the board almost paralyzed with shock.  This Monday, I expect nothing in Superintendent Moody’s draft budget to be unjustified and all of it to be cost effective, however, you probably realize that you can
expect to be in even more shock after the meeting.  This school funding crisis is almost entirely due to the tax cuts enacted by our
legislature over the last few years, according to many economic reports in the news.

As you consider the budget, I hope you will also consider hiring a person to mobilize the public to demand more public funding from the
state legislature, even if it means more taxes.  The five-year strategic plan includes financial goals, but they are not comprehensive enough, and someone needs to be spending a great deal of time on them for anything to happen.  The good things about our district need to be publicized and the costs of funding (and non-funding) need to be known to the public.  The job is not going to get done unless someone is focused entirely on it; the superintendent cannot do it all herself, her staff have other responsibilities, the board members have regular full-time jobs, and the grassroots email list is not enough.  We know the SC State legislature is going to have to readdress school funding, and we need professional help publicizing what our district needs and organizing people to go see their legislators in action, if need be.  I know it sounds absurd to call for more hiring now, but we have never needed such a position more!

As we have seen all over the news, Caroline Kennedy did this for the New York public schools and raised millions of dollars.  The Rock
Hill police chief recently had an article in the newspaper calling for more early learning funding.  On the SC Dept. of Education web
site at  you can read an entire article, bragging about SC schools.  Our local school
system is doing very well despite rising numbers of students on reduced and free lunch programs and constant besiegement by people
who want to loot the already empty public education coffers for their own purposes; why can’t we have someone telling us things like this
about the Rock Hill Schools?

Hiring someone to handle publicity and fundraising for the Rock Hill schools would easily pay for itself and is a justifiable expense.

Thank you for all your work for the schools.



I had a few short comments in Saturday's Herald Newspaper concerning the budget.  I received this correspondence related to the article, not necessarily to my comments.

Mr. Vining ,
In your comments , a couple of things came to mind. This district is awash with quite a huge amount of Administrative Jobs and positions that in tough times totally are befuddling. Middle Schools have School principals for Grades 6 thru Grade 12 ? Each Grade principal is treated like a CEO with Secretaries and staff.  I remember a time when each School had one principal and maybe an assistant. We have quite a bit of paying going for positions that have no direct impact on the day to day educating of the children. Each Grade has Guidance counselor in High School and some middle schools.
I can tell you that when it comes to MINOR FEMALE dominated sports we as parents are already paying quite some amounts in fees , not including the outside professional coaching we pay for to make up for the lack of professional certified coaching that the Schools currently provide. Cheerleaders parents if you would like a breakdown, I can get you one,  pay into the Thousands of dollars per year to represent the High Schools and in most cases have coaches that are not UCA or NCA certified ( just a teacher who cheered a long time ago) by the way there are 8000 Division 1 and Division 2 Athletic Scholarships for Cheerleaders. Private coaches usually have better inside track and teach the skills the Athletes need to get those so the High School Cheerleading is basically  a way to fill time. Pay 3 times the $1500 dollars that High School cost for Private Gym and proper instruction.
If you want to take another take Swimming parents pay for everything, suits, goggles, snack fund plus pay  admission.  The schools supply a 3 dollar cap and 4 year old ill fitting warm-ups  that are turned back in each year. Parents pay $20 to attend and become certified to officiate at the meets to be the starter and the judges. Parents are the timers at each meet also.
This sport also does not have USA level 1 ,2 or 3 certified and trained coaches it has whatever gets left over or can be cajoled into attempting to watch the lanes or used to swim long time ago.
This sport also have between 12,000 and 15,000 division 1 and 2 scholarships available.
Those parents that want to give their Children a chance to excel in these Sports usually pay for private team training and outside team coaching between $2000, to $5000 per year  and  these athletes swim in USA sanctioned swimming meets that is where the coaches can view their times on Official web -sites  where professional officials referee the meets.( I know I am a USA Swimming official).
So as you contemplate the charging of fees for athletic participation , contemplate that you will most likely end almost all minor sports at a High School level. These sports are already extremely poorly coached just a time filler for the serious participants and if you add fees without upgrading the type coaches you have thrown out there the athletes you think that will pay to play for the school will choose to spend their dollars in the private sector for professional coaching.( High School give the professional coaching to Football, Basketball and in some cases Soccer and Baseball. ( Charge them to participate.)  You are in many ways I am quite sure totally unaware how much money minor sports parents already PAY. )
Not only that  the concessions at the major sports is manned by parents of all the minor sports for the crumbs that they can get from booster clubs $20 an hour for their sports budget. What really gets me is one less administrator can fund most of these minor sports for an entire school considering how much we already pay
Or if you want to look at the programs lets take a look at coaching staff's equipping and busses for 9th grade Football, Basketball, Baseball and Soccer / Why not say we can't have these back in the 70'S when I was in High School we had no 9th grade sports. 9th and 10th graders were a Junior Varsity  period so you either mad Varsity or JV  no 9th grade separatism.
Look at Middle School they have already combined cheer leading for 7th and 8th grades , Why not combine football and Basketball and Volleyball to 1 team 7th and 8th grade best play or is it the sexist view we can combine the girls to save cost but not the boys?
Currently the middle schools have either dropped cheerleading or have 1 squad for both grades.
So while you are tossing around these things toss over in your head , the entire district outside of the schools knows that We never cut or combine administrative positions ( at the district and at the school level we have overhead for everything in duplicate) and now we will  think about a charge for the female , and so called minor sports parents who already shoulder most of the cost of the sport.
What you have is a catch 22 if you charge you better upgrade what you provide or everyone will just kill the high school sport and take it to the private sector where they can actually get what they pay for in an athletic program. You should really do some homework on what some parents and boosters already pay both public and private on sports and coaching and program.
Except for the majors sports you provide very little as it is.
Best Regards,

Friday, January 9, 2009

Rock Hill Schools Considering; Athletic Fees; Salary Reductions; And More Students Per Classroom to Deal With State Reductions

The Rock Hill School Board will have it's January work session on Monday, January 12, 2009 at Belleview Elementary School. During the meeting, the Board will be presented options the administration is considering on how to deal with the state budget crisis. Actions already taken are:
  • Department budgets cut 5%
  • Travel and new guidelines have been restricted
  • Staff recruitment trips have been reduced
  • Printing has been reduced in favor of electronic communications
  • Overtime has been eliminated
  • Consultants have been reduced
  • Partial hiring freeze
Additional cuts may come in the following areas:
  • Condense middle school summer school
  • More Department Budget cuts (up to a total of 10%)
  • Cut School Budgets an additional 5%
  • Freeze all salaries
  • Eliminate National Board Teacher supplemental salary
  • Implement athletic fees
  • Eliminate positions
  • Do not hire new teachers (increasing class size)
This should make an interesting meeting. The proposed agenda is below:

LOCATION: Belleview Elementary School

START: 5:30 p.m.

DATE: January 12, 2009


WORK SESSION - Media Center

1 Presentation by Belleview Elementary School John Kirell 30 minutes
2 2010 Pennies for Progress - Phil Leazer Luanne Kokolis 30 minutes
3 Capital Fund Update / Discussion John Hair / Bob Norwood 30-45 minutes
4 Latest State Budget Reductions / Recommendations / Discussion Mabry / Moody / Norwood 30-45 minutes
5 RFPs for Indefinite Delivery Contracts John Hair 10 minutes
6 Executive Session Property & Legal Matters 30 minutes

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