Information about several matters was presented to the board and four were voted upon, including two that named a new principal of Lockhart Schools and a new Union County High School varsity basketball coach.
First, Dr. Janice Poda — Deputy Superintendent at the South Carolina State Department of Education — gave an overview and asked the board to consider participating in the “Race to the Top” grant application. Last year, South Carolina submitted an application with 41 other states and the District of Columbia and ranked sixth. This year’s application is due by June 1 and Poda called it “a way to address achievement gaps.”
Poda also pointed out that out of 88 school districts in South Carolina — including two for incarcerated students — 87 have signed on for the “Race to the Top” application. Union is the only district that had not yet made a decision.
“We don’t have the capacity to run every school district,” Poda said. “We want to build the capacity of the school districts.”
If South Carolina were to win the grant, execution of the “Race to the Top Plan” would be broken into four categories: Rigorous standards and assessment, effective teachers and leaders, turning around lowest performing schools and creation of a large data system that can be used in decision making. The total grant would be in the amount of $175 million with half going directly to the individual school districts and the other half going to the state.
The money for the individual districts would be distributed in amounts proportionate to the percentage of students in Title 1 programs. Additional money would be awarded to the state and distributed among individual school districts according to their participation in the execution of the Race to the Top Plan. If South Carolina were to be awarded the Race to the Top grant, the Union County School District would automatically receive $475,000 and could potentially receive a total of up to $1.2 million.
The board then went into executive session for about an hour to discuss personnel issues.
Superintendent Dr. Kristi Woodall then provided a report on both the Union County High School and Adult Education graduations. Union County High School had a reported 265 graduates. Adult Education awarded 45 GED’s and nine diplomas.
Woodall then thanked B.J. McMorris for organizing a day of free physicals for Union County student athletes at Wallace Thomson Hospital. Woodall also announced that Foster Park received a 2010 Red Carpet Award.
The board then voted in favor of participating in the Race to the Top grant application with a 6-2 vote.
Assistant superintendent of instruction Dale Goff and director of secondary education Cindy Langley presented the Corrective Action Plan and recommended it for board approval. The board unanimously voted in favor of the Corrective Action Plan. An overview was then given of the Union County Family Resource Center by Goff and UCFRC employees.
Dr. Susanne Gunter then discussed the Career Start program, stating “USC-Union has been a great partner on this.”
A first draft of the proposed 2010-2011 budget was presented by Lynn Lawson. The total proposed budget is $24,032,973 — $3,882,290 less than the current 2009-2010 budget.
The proposed budget would also cut total salaries and benefits by $3,341,116 which has affected 70 positions within the district. Out of the 70 jobs, 55 were retired, cut, moved or replaced by a non-retiree and 15 were absorbed in reallocation of state and federal funds.
The proposed budget also proposes no Driver’s Education and no K-5 foreign language. Reduction of coaching positions and the ceasing of playoff supplements is also proposed. The total non-salary costs have been cut by $541,174. These costs include contract services, purchased services, supplies, materials and overhead.
The contract services include rental of Union County Stadium which the district currently rents from the county for $95,000 per year. The school district has sent a letter to the county requesting a reduction of the rental price since there will be fewer games held at the stadium.
The board then decided with a 5-3 vote to approve a personnel report that named Will Hickson the new Union County High School Varsity Basketball Coach. The board then voted unanimously in favor of approving a personnel report naming Betsy Trakas the new Lockhart Schools Principal.
Trakas has been a District Instructional Facilitator with the Union County School District since 2006. Prior to that she was a classroom teacher in Spartanburg County School District 3 from 1976-2005 and a classroom teacher at Lockhart School from 2005-06.
Trakas has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Winthrop University and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Western Governors University. She has also completed other undergraduate and graduate courses at the University of South Carolina — Columbia and Spartanburg campuses — and Converse College.