LAURINBURG — The Scotland County Board of Education was introduced to the district’s new chief finance officer at the start of its mid-year review meeting.
Susan Harrison, who is currently the chief finance officer at Clinton City Schools, will join the district on June 1. Harrison replaces former finance officer Jay Toland, who left the county earlier this year. Toland accepted a position as special assistant to the chief marketing officer for the city of Fayetteville.
Until June 1, Larrisa York, the district’s assistant finance officer, will continue to serve as the interim chief finance officer.
York presented the school’s 2018-19 local budget which highlighted $860,000 in potential capital outlay projects for the upcoming school year. York’s presentation also noted a reduction in the student population. There are 5,871 students enrolled in Scotland County for the 2017-18 school year, that number is projected to decrease by 130 students to 5,741.
The ADM (average daily membership) has steadily decreased in the county over the last four school years.
Dr. Valarie Williams provided the board an update on student performance highlighting the district’s advancements in students reading comprehension. At the beginning of the school year, the number of kindergarten students that were below proficient in TRC (text, reading and comprehension) dropped from 237 to 32.
The number of kindergarten students that were above proficient increased from two to 82.
Williams also noted that reading comprehension improved in second and third grade students. At the middle school level, students scores on the math check-in increased by 17 points while high school English II students increased their proficiency by 11.2 percent.
Areas that Williams and her staff found students were falling behind most were first-grade students. First graders are struggling with reading comprehension because they have to grow six levels along with learning how to write.
“The number of students that were far below proficient increased from 142 at the beginning of the year to 291 at the middle of the year,” said Williams. “Grades that we’re seeing on the report cards are not matching up with what we’re seeing on the benchmarks. The report card grades, often times, are higher.”
Cory Satterfield, assistant superintendent of human resources, informed the board the number of beginning and lateral entry teachers has tripled over the last several years.
“We want to reduce our teacher turnover rate by one percent every year and I don’t think that’s a realistic goal with how many lateral entry teachers and emergency permits we have,” Satterfield said.
The beginning teacher and lateral entry teacher turnover rate this year is 35, from April 2017 to Jan. 31 — a significant increase from the 2016-17 school year when only 15 teachers left the district.
The breakdown showed that 14 lateral entry teachers and 21 beginning teachers have left the county.
“The teachers that left at the end of last school year are in this data because that’s how the state reports it to us,” said Satterfield.
Larry Johnson, assistant superintendent of auxiliary services, informed the board on several topics including school safety, transportation and child nutrition.
The district is looking into purchasing the “Here Comes the Bus” app which would send a text or alert to parents about when their child’s bus will arrive. It could also alert parents when their child gets on the bus and when they get dropped off.
Johnson said the transportation department is also looking into the cost of having multiple cameras installed on each bus in the fleet so that if an incident happens school officials can see all angles.
“We have one camera that shoots to the back of the bus and we can’t get coverage. We met with a company about adding four cameras to each bus to cover every angle,” Johnson said. “That is something we could bring back to the board before summer is out.”
The district is also looking to implement breakfast in the classroom at every school throughout the county, currently it’s being offered at five.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]