AAUW panel – State Education Standards

Shane Goodwin, Kelly Pew, Jodi Steele, Jane Sharp

Shane Goodwin, Kelly Pew, Jodi Steele, Jane Sharp

The American Association of University Women hosted a discussion with four panelists  from Rock Hill Schools. The discussion centered on the effects on teachers and teaching of the changing standards in the state, including older standards, newer standards, Common Core Standards, and South Carolina Standards. One thing panelists seemed to agree on is that “standards” do not include how to teach, only what to learn, and that politicians, extreme social views, media scrutiny, and profit-seeking textbook and material publishers have clouded our understanding of standards. South Carolina already has standards, which are in some cases higher than other states, and we can be proud of them. But we are not recognized for those high standards, because other states, with lower standards (meaning kids have to learn less) may have higher graduation rates. Panelists, pictured at left, were School Board member Jane Sharp, Superintendent Kelly Pew, Principal Shane Goodwin, and Teacher Jodi Steele.

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Teens testing limits: No surprise!

_no-backpackIf you haven’t heard already, people have been sneaking alcoholic beverages into football games. Does it surprise anyone that teenagers are testing limits? Sometimes that’s how they learn. In the interest of legality and safety, however, the Rock Hill Police suggested to the administration that banning outside food and beverages and backpacks would take care of the problem. The Rock Hill School Board agreed, and and with a few exceptions for medical reasons and for small children, your backpacks and outside food will not be permitted. Please read the rules below before you attend this week’s games, and please get there early, because you can bet the lines will be longer, especially the first few weeks while everyone is learning new efficient procedures. The board asked for very good communication, and Rachel Southmayd has already reported it in the Herald here, but we know that not everyone will get the message. I have a conflict this week and will not be at the game, so I would appreciate you all telling me how things go.

 

Procedures for Fans Attending Events at District 3 Stadium and District 3 South Stadium
Rock Hill Schools
Effective September 19, 2014

Beginning with the September 19 varsity football game, fans will not be permitted to bring backpacks into either stadium. No outside food or beverages will be permitted. Fans should plan accordingly before arriving at stadium events.

Guidelines for Gate Attendants:

  1. If a fan arrives with a backpack or knapsack, inform the fan that it is not permitted and ask that he/she take it to their car.

If it is a younger student and he/she indicates there is not a car (they were dropped off at the event) or he/she is staying over at a friend’s house and this is the overnight bag, ask student to

open the bag and move contents around so that gate attendant can look into the bag. Inform the student to leave the bag at home in the future and make other arrangements for an overnight bag. He/she will not get in with a bag at the next event.

  1. If something suspicious is viewed in the bag, ask the police officer to intervene.
  1. If a fan arrives with a water bottle, beverage, McDonald’s bag, etc., ask the fan to consume before entering the gate or discard in the container at the gate.
  1. Gate attendants should not place hands inside a backpack to search. The owner of the backpack needs to open and move contents around to be viewed.

NOTE: The above guidelines do not apply to ladies’ purses, adults with seat cushions/blanket holders, diaper bags, medications, or food needed for those with medical conditions.

The statement below should be read at athletic events beginning Sept. 12 and forward:

To create a safer environment, fans attending events at District 3 Stadium or District 3 South Stadium are not permitted to bring backpacks into the stadium, effective Sept. 19. No outside food or beverages will be permitted. Please plan accordingly before arriving at stadium events. Thank you for your cooperation.

Planning Department / Sept. 2014

 

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Video: South Point Locker Room Cleaning

Dan Yesenosky, at WCNC Charlotte, interviewed South Point Athletic Director Mike Drummond and Director of Custodial Services Michael Cox today about how they keep germs out of the locker room. The text of the interview is below the video. Thanks Mr. Drummond and Mr. Cox, for keeping students in Rock Hill Schools healthy!

ROCK HILL, S.C. — We’re just hours away from another Friday Night Frenzy and just as important as protecting players on the field, schools are taking major steps to protect them inside the locker room from MRSA and other harmful bacteria.

One of those is South Pointe High School in Rock Hill, where they have two locker rooms with 80 lockers in each.

Let’s start with Athletic Director Mike Drummond for what the coaches and athletic department are responsible for: each day after practice or a game, they wipe down the helmets and shoulder pads and wash every piece of each player’s uniform.

“This is all three football teams: 9th grade, JV and varsity,” Drummond said. “You’re talking about roughly 150 kids.”

And there are about 20 coaches on the whole staff.

Custodial Director Michael Cox, who has two contracted companies helping with sanitation here, says the custodians are responsible for cleaning the lockers and the locker room floors. There are also soap and disinfecting products in dispensers in the bathrooms, as well as a hefty cleaning regiment for the shower area.

“You can mop on a daily basis, but what you really need to do at least once a week is hose everything down,” Cox said.

He’s even got a custodial handbook for the Rock Hill school district with instructions.

“Not only their task of when to do it, but we break down their task of how to do it,” Cox said.

Including the expectations and standards that need to be met.

“If our taxpayers are expecting this, they’re paying for it, then we’re going to give it to them,” Cox said.

Avoiding getting sick and spreading of things like MRSA or the flu throughout the football team and school is the main concern. Cox says they urge parents and students to communicate any health concerns right away.

“Then we can move forward and make sure we take care of that child and the other children that are around them,” Cox said.

It’s a thorough process and one that the school district takes a lot of pride in. Cox says he has three pieces of advice for the players: wash your hands, wash your hands and wash your hands.

The district also installed fans a few years ago to help with any odor from the equipment or cleaning materials.

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Supt. Announces Goals 

Dr. Kelly Pew

Rock Hill Schools Superintendent Dr. Kelly Pew was hired knowing the goals the Rock Hill School Board set for the district: Academics, Teacher Training, and Communications. She told us on the first interview that, if hired, she would want to begin her tenure before the end of last year, in order to get a head start on working with each school’s goals for 2014-15. After meeting with staff and teacher groups, Dr. Pew has met each principal, reviewed school data, and is assessing every single new initiative and program for its success rate and how much it costs. I will be asking that each program be evaluated on how it contributes to the goals below.

Director of information Services Elaine’s Baker’s succinct summary of the Superintendent’s goals is below. The only thing I add is that a Board Goal is also Communications, and the Superintendent is already addressing it through hearing a report soon from a Board Communications Advisory Committee.

Dr. Kelly Pew formally presented her goals to the school board on Sept. 8. They are as follows:

  • Increase the graduation rate to 88% on or before 2019. Our current rate is 80.1%.
  • Increase the passage rate of End-of-Course (EOC) assessments in English, Algebra 1, U.S. History and Biology.
  • Increase the percentage of students reading on or above grade level in K-8.
  • Meet or exceed national norms on the Measure of Academic Progress (MAPs) in grades K-8.
  • Increase the percentage of students: reading on grade level by grade 3; scoring proficiency or above in elementary science and math; and passing the U.S. History EOC assessment.
  • Implement Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) district-wide to expand relevant professional development within the district.
  • Develop a balanced budget for FY 16 that support the district’s mission and vision for student achievement.
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Northwestern Grad Angela Williams in Philippines

AngelaWms

Angela Williams at 221st PCUSA General Assembly

Rock Hill Schools Northwestern High and Purple Regiment (percussion) graduate Angela Williams graduated this spring from Washington and Lee University in Virginia. I sent out a previous link to her blog when she began it as an overseas student in Israel, and she is now off to the Philippines doing mission work. She also spent some time this summer as a delegate to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA. Angela is a creative and interesting write, and she blogs at The Big World Adventures of a Small Town Southern Girl. I particularly recommend the one called “First Week in the Philippines!”. Have fun and learn a lot, Angela! (I happen to have already heard your mom saying she misses you.)

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9-8-14 Board Work Session – post meeting notes

RH3 logoKudos to Chairman Jim Vining, who herded the Rock Hill School Board through a long and complicated meeting and got us out before we became too mentally exhausted to make sense.

After Executive Session we did not discuss the TIF. As Chairman Vining reported, consultants for the TIF did not have time to produce required documents. The city’s TIF proposal is very flexible, and our school board needs to consider how that flexibility might affect funding over the next twenty-five years. The TIF will be good for the city and the schools, but the board needs to consider many events which might occur and make sure school funding continues to be secure.

The Superintendent’s Goals will be formally adopted during the business meeting. Two years ago the board set district goals of improving academics, teacher training, and communications, and we have consistently been concerned with finances. Dr. Pew’s goals address Academics, Teacher Training, and Finances, and the Communications Advisory Committee will make a report to the administration for Dr. Pew to consider implementing.

The Board is now acting on recommendations of our accrediting agency, AdvancEd, focused on policy. To save enormous amounts of staff research time, we will almost certainly vote at the business meeting to invest about $20,000 this year and about $2,500 annually thereafter to take advantage of the policy services of the South Carolina School Boards Association. I am delighted the accreditation visit and our board study are convincing board members to work with the SCSBA on policy.

Steps being taken to address AdvancEd requirements by the Administration in the areas of Human Resources and Instruction are not as encouraging. HR is required to do a better job of evaluating personnel, and two policies were presented which will help. State rules will effective teacher evaluation difficult, however. The state requires that teachers be hired in the spring, but also that teacher evaluations include information unavailable until summer or even fall. HR personnel are attending state training and working to overcome that timing problem. The Instruction department is required to have much more teacher collaboration, focused on demanding student excellence. Some Rock Hill principals long ago instituted collaboration for excellence with their teachers, and students of those teachers are producing excellent academic results. Since teachers will comprise the “Personal Learning Communities,” as the required collaborative units are called, teachers should be involved in planning from the very start, and at the very least the teachers already involved in successful collaboration should be consulted. No teachers have been included in the first plan devised by the Instruction Department to address AdvancEd requirements, and only a few teachers may be included as the plan moves forward. When asked about including teachers, Dr. Jaworowski said they could include more teachers. To be successful, the plan will need teacher input.

In response to the AdvancEd requirements, we again discussed many policies governing board operations which will probably be adopted at the end of the month, and many more are being updated and revised. Thanks to Mr. Brown, Ms. Douglas, Chairman Vining, and the many administrators who have spent hours studying and changing these and now recommend them.

The student attendance rule is now in effect, as it does not need a board vote, and parents will be happy that attendance procedures are finally more uniform. Ms. Partlow’s HR policies will probably be adopted on second read this month.

The Healthy Foods policy is predicted to lose schools money, but it needn’t do so, if schools would take advantage of the Wellness committees they are supposed to be promoting. That healthy kids make better grades is proven, so I am delighted to report that our state is actually ahead of the rest of the nation on this matter, and our laws will be having a positive effect soon, provided they are not sabotaged by poor implementation, always a fear when leadership has a bad attitude, and unfortunately most people in leadership are already complaining about this new law.  The policy will be adopted, as it is the law and we are only changing legal references.

The following two discussions highlight an ambiguity in the district approach to anything involving the public. Is the point

  1. to develop goodwill in our community or
  2. to make money in the face of state funding cuts?

 

  1. If the point of free sports passes is to develop goodwill, it should be easy to get passes and easy to attend, and the board should find the funds to give the schools extra money for what they lose while they develop goodwill for the district.
  2. If the point of free sports passes is to earn as much money as possible for the athletics budget, the passes should be difficult to get (like awarding them for years of teaching service) and the schools shouldn’t lose much funding because not many people use passes.

Between one-third and one-half of all attendees are not paying admission. If they all paid, the schools would receive about $20,000 in gate receipts annually, and my choice would be to let seniors in free, and find the funds to reimburse the schools. We need to reach out to our community, and this is one way.

Sports passes were the first issue, and specifically, the disaster of public relations which the Byrnes/Northwestern football game became.  Various people made various decisions based on their personal understanding of whether the point is 1) or 2) above, and naturally these decisions were not uniform. Much of the problem was not following policy, resulting in contractual arrangements not being communicated within the administration, people being refused entrance to the game, and customary media access being denied, among other things. Though the Athletic Directors were in attendance, Dr. Kokolis made the report, and the Administration appropriately took much more responsibility for working with athletics than has previously been the case. There has been no SIC or parental or community input for the sports pass plan which was presented, and there is no plan for communicating newly recommended procedures (which are unnecessarily complicated) to the public. I think that means there will be more problems. The board suggested strongly that policy be followed and that changes be discussed with SICs and communicated better. The board is asking Dr. Pew to be vigilant in enforcing policy and requiring that employees do the same, and will support her in any way she needs in enforcing policy.

The sports passes discussion was followed immediately by a letter received today from the Rock Hill Police Department. You are probably not surprised to hear that some people, primarily teens, have been caught sneaking alcoholic beverages into football games, and the police seem to think stopping this is a simple matter of banning all backpacks. The board had a lot of discussion, the upshot being that we hope by Sept. 19 a procedure for safely and easily banning most outside food and beverage from the stadium can be in place. Dr. Kokolis will work to make it so, but it is much more complicated than it first seems. Again, we are worried about creating ill will because we know some people won’t get the message, though the board asked the administration to communicate it well, through the Herald, district wide phone calls, and notes home from school.

Final agenda item was whether the board should begin video recording all meetings and placing them on the website for later watching. The newly revised eleventh edition of Robert’s Rules of Order has ideas about this and electronic meetings, which the administration will check. Contrary to Robert’s Rules of Order, some years ago the board secretary was directed to include some comments as well as votes, but the comments included are selective and may favor one comment over another. The video could be appended to the minutes, much as written statements are sometimes appended, and the minutes could be merely action (vote) reports, as Robert’s Rules require, but we were cautioned that every type electronic record has eventually been abandoned, and we need to keep on paper anything we want to be permanent. The administration will investigate and pursue means of video recording and web storage for public viewing.

Ms. Ann Reid asked for a moment at the end of the meeting. Ms. Reid’s son Terence Reid went through the Rock Hill Schools, played in the band in high school, then to University of South Carolina where he was a cheerleader, and then to Officer’s Training School in the Marines. He is retiring from the Marines at Scott Air Force Base and we are privileged to have an invitation to his ceremony. She is a proud mother, but we can all be proud of the Rock Hill Schools and Terence Reid.

 

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Finley Road + Star Spangled Banner

You are invited! Many Rock Hill schools, including Finley Road, will have celebrations this weekend in honor of the 200th anniversary of the our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. Join Finley Road at the flagpole on Friday, or go to the amphitheater on Sunday and sing and listen to our school musicians.

SSB-200th-Note-Home

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9-8-14 School Board Work Session

RH3 logoMonday’s Rock Hill School Board Agenda is a full one, and there will probably be a good bit of discussion on several items.

After our call to order, Mr. Vining will lead the first public discussion by the school board of the Textile Corridor TIF (=Tax Increment Financing) proposed by the City of Rock Hill. Our meeting is the same time as the public hearing at City Council Chambers, but it will be good for anyone interested to hear our board discussion and some of our questions. Here is a one minute video explaining how the TIF would work and affect school funding, and more information can be found by clicking the menu item “TIF Information” above.

Superintendent Dr. Kelly Pew has begun to outline her goals, and this will be a more thorough discussion. She hit the ground running and has already met with all principals, reviewing school progress and outlining plans for going forward.

AdvancEd is our accrediting agency, and as I have said before, almost all our problems are due to a low priority on adhering to policy. Ms. Rebecca Partlow, Executive Director of  Personnel, and Dr. Harriet Jaworowski, Associate Superintendent for Instruction and Curriculum, will share plans for addressing AdvancEd requirements in their departments. We do not yet have information about Ms. Partlow’s plan, but the Instruction department’s plan to improve collaboration among teachers doesn’t seem to include any teachers, which raises questions.

The School Board is responsible for the schools, through the administration of the Superintendent. In June, the board had a retreat to begin addressing the recommendations AdvancEd made for the board itself, and a group including board members, district office administrators, and principals has been reviewing board policies. At our last meeting we approved their revisions for first read, and unless there is new information Monday night, I anticipate the newly recommended Board Policies will be approved at second reading and therefore adopted at the Business meeting at the end of this month.

As a parent of a Rock Hill Schools student, I often dealt with attendance officers at Rosewood, Sullivan and Northwestern. Try as I might, I never seemed to be able to learn the attendance/absence/excuse system. Well, lo and behold! To all parents like me who have had troubles with the attendance system, I announce “it is NOT OUR FAULT!” In fact, amazingly, there has been no district-wide system; each school had its own plan. Thanks are due to the Superintendent and her staff for finally taking this in hand and developing a uniform district wide procedure for student attendance. It will help all parents. It was approved for first read and I anticipate a second read approval and adoption at our business meeting.

Another policy which was approved for first read and which I anticipate being approved and adopted this month requires schools to serve healthy food. I am delighted to vote for this, because I know it attacks the obesity epidemic and thus will save our state tax dollars in health costs, and it will also improve academics for the students to be healthy. Others don’t agree with me, but let me point out that parents can still send all the junk food they want. It is the food sold to children on school property while the kids are compelled to be in school that is required to be healthy, and I think we have a responsibility to set a good example and make sure those items are healthy. If you want to read an excellent, short, well-written opinion piece on this issue see Cindi Ross Scoppe’s “The Truth about Cupcakes” from The State newspaper here.

The next item, Sports Passes, is likely to generate a lot of discussion. The Rock Hill Herald and education reporter Rachel Southmayd give great coverage to our schools, and published two articles about the confusion over sports passes not being honored at the football game two weeks ago. The district has several different ticket/pass procedures for various events which have been somewhat cavalierly enforced and that has not served our community well. The athletic directors have a plan to help, but I am not sure if the administration approves it or not since the athletic directors are presenting it themselves. I want this issue to be settled so that our senior citizens can all come to events easily and at no charge. Tonight at the Northwestern game, a lady brought the issue up to me again, and I was glad to be able to say we would be discussing it and looking for a solution this Monday.

Our final agenda item is a discussion of Board meeting recordings on the website. Board minutes have included discussion as well as action reports, but as it is impractical to include every word of every discussion, the records have necessarily been selective. Many school boards record meetings on video, and the formal minutes include only actions taken. The video can be appended to the minutes and also kept on the website for a couple of years, which makes the minutes more concise and also allows people to go back and review the entire discussion in detail if desired. Video recordings of meetings would be a more transparent way to keep the public informed. I would like to see it adopted by our board.

The Agenda is below, and you can read the entire board information packet by clicking here.

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Rock Hill Schools Reading Program Video

Rock Hill school board has as its first priority academic improvement, and that means reading. It is well documented that students who cannot read are at risk of academic failure and often, in fact, drop out. Over the summer when students are not in school they do not read enough, and their reading skills regularly deteriorate. This past summer, Rock Hill Schools had a reading program helping students read in every single elementary school and some middle schools. When students returned to school in the fall every elementary school had an extra teacher who worked especially in reading, and middle and high schools have special instructional teachers who help with reading. There are coaches who help teachers to learn new ways to teach reading, and reading recovery teachers who help directly with students. This took a lot of funding, but the state of South Carolina added to the money Rock Hill schools was already spending on reading. The legislature added the new funding, because they made a new law saying that third-graders cannot progress to fourth-grade unless they can read. We know that reading will improve academics in the Rock Hill Schools. You can learn more at my website, Ginny Moe.net.

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Maps of Ginny’s District

Below are links to various maps of Ginny’s Rock Hill Schools district, which is technically called Seat Two of Rock Hill School District Three in York County.

Ginny’s district with main roads marked. If you live in the colored area, you can vote for Ginny at the locations listed. If you don’t live in this area, tell your friends in the area to vote for Ginny.

Middle School attendance zones in Ginny’s district. Ginny will be on your ballot if you live in the area bounded by red.  Students in your neighborhood may go to Dutchman Creek, Rawlinson Road, Saluda Trail, or Sullivan for sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

High School attendance zones in Ginny’s District. Ginny will be on your ballot if you live in the area bounded by red.  Students in your neighborhood may go to high school at Northwestern, Rock Hill High, or South Pointe.

Elementary School Zones in Ginny’s District. Ginny will be on your ballot if you live in the area bounded by red.  Students in your neighborhood may go to elementary school at Ebinport, Finley Road, India Hook, Mount Gallant, Old Pointe, Richmond Drive, Sunset Park, York Road or one of the Rock Hill Elementary Schools of Choice.

All of Rock Hill Schools Voting zones. If you live in either the gray or yellow area in Seat Two (bounded by red) Ginny will be on your ballot.

Map of Ginny’s zone with precincts and voting locations. If you live in the area marked yellow, Ginny will be on your ballot.

 

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