Another school year has begun and it’s going to be a great one. While students spent the summer at grandma’s, bible school, and beach and lake trips, teachers spent hundreds of hours in class learning new skills.
They took time out of their summer to study new technology along with issues facing our schools such as confidentiality of student data, child abuse recognition, bullying, and student safety procedures for emergencies, including ALICE training — it’s been a summer of learning for teachers.
While our students relaxed, our teachers and administrators worked diligently to ensure every day of the 2017- 2018 school year is safe and productive. In addition to staff safety training, the board also approved funding for a School Resource Officer on every campus, which is new to the district and adds an additional level of safety for students and staff. Having an officer on each campus was the top priority for the board this year, and I’m thankful it’s accomplished.
Over the summer great strides were made in maintaining the enormous investment in facilities across the district. The board approved over $4 million for building upkeep. These include much needed roofing, lighting and flooring at Hagood Elementary, along with renovations at A.R. Lewis making it into an opportunity school for at-risk and adult learners.
It truly is an opportunity school for students who require unique accommodations to complete their education. These students, instead of being excluded from educational opportunities, can now complete their education and more fully contribute to society.
Other capital improvements include outdated lighting fixture replacement to reduce long term energy costs across the district. We also expanded our Information Technology facilities to keep up with the growing need to train staff and maintain devices. To accomplish this the administration, with board approval, remodeled existing facilities instead of new construction, which saved tax dollars and accelerated completion.
After years of somewhat pessimistic news from the School District of Pickens County, we’ve turned the corner and an amazing transformation is occurring. We’re making great progress taking care of people, educating children, and maintaining the taxpayer’s investment in facilities; all three of which have suffered in past years.
The board now works collectively for the best interest of the county. Gone are the days of egoism and theatrics. I hope you will help spread the word and celebrate the school board’s course correction, and how wonderfully blessed we are to live in Pickens County where we can love children and education, as well as manage costs to the taxpayer.
Phillip Bowers is chairman of the Pickens County School Board.