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Changes to 2017-18 school calendar

At the April 10 Jasper County School Board meeting, Superintendent Donald Andrews discussed the 2017-18 school calendar.

At previous meetings Andrews talked extensively about extending the school year by adding multiple short breaks in the year. The upcoming calendar closely aligns with that of Beaufort County’s school district – which was common in previous years.

One of the bigger changes is semester alignment. Currently, the first semester carries over into mid January with winter break in the middle. The calendar for next year aligns the end of the first semester with the beginning of winter break. This creates a cleaner and more organized calendar for teachers and students.

Other changes for the upcoming school year include an additional teacher workday the day before school begins in August, alignment of parent-teacher conferences with early dismissal days, and makeup days on Saturdays.

Saturday makeup days will only be half-days. The decision in favor of Saturday makeups is intended to preserve holiday vacation days. Traditionally, makeup days are just days taken from vacation days, such as Presidents Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day and spring break .

The calendar was ap­proved unanimously by the board.

State review

The state diagnostic review team was also discussed.

“They are representing the state of South Carolina. While I feel like we were being innovative to a degree, we have the advanced ed, and this is advanced ed too, but it’s state not global like that one,” said Andrews. “We feel like we’re innovated. I am very impressed with our state, in that they’re supporting us, so this diagnostic review will be very helpful in helping us move forward.”

The state diagnostic review will evaluate the school system by collecting data from schools themselves and submitting it to the state Department of Education. A representative will be sent to Jasper County to discuss areas the district needs to re-examine and review.

GCA donates $50,000

GCA Education Services, the custodial and maintenance company for the district, donated $50,000 for use as the district decides.

Requests questioned

Budget transfers received some initial resistance from the board, which is not uncommon.

Often when a budget transfer request is presented, the board asks specific questions about funding, reasoning and ethics of the transfer. Usually the budget funding requests are in the consent agenda, but often the board debates specific requests.

At the meeting, Andrews respectfully requested that the board trust the administration and “let them do their jobs.”

The board’s constant demands for information make it difficult for administrative staff to move forward with other tasks the board wants to see accomplished, Andrews said, such as making progress on a CATE (Career and Technical Education) facility. Because staff members are constantly working to give board members specific information, this slows down the administration’s productivity, he said.

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