UNION — In Tuesday’s edition of The Union Daily Times, a brief overview was given of Monday evening’s meeting of the Union County Board of School Trustees. The following serves as a more in-depth look at items discussed:
Director of Secondary Education Cindy Langley discussed upcoming expansion to the AP (advanced placement) course offerings in the district.
Langley said meetings about the expansion have taken place with principals of district middle schools and Union County High School.
Currently, honors courses in English, Algebra and Biology are available to eighth graders, but as of next year, Biology Honors will move to ninth grade. For eighth-graders, the course will be replaced with one focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects such as engineering and robotics. This effort will coincide with the district’s initiative to make Union County “work ready.”
With changes in science course offerings, the next step for students who took Biology II Honors will be AP Biology, which is a double-blocked class that includes a lab.
Eighth-graders will also have access to another new high-school-credit course, World Geography Honors.
Ninth grade students will be offered a new course — AP Human Geography — which is offered at schools in surrounding counties such as Dorman High School’s freshman campus. Langley said the course would only be for the top 20-25 students who choose to take it as the district will incur the cost of the final AP exam. This differs from juniors’ and seniors’ AP classes, as the state pays for those exams.
Langley said that an AP Psychology class will be added, as well as an AP English course such as language or literature. She also mentioned the addition of AP Spanish and the possibility of AP Macroeconomics. She said the district is also looking to implement an SAT-prep class and a matching writing or vocabulary-building class geared toward tenth and eleventh grades.
“Students will have to make choices,” Langley said, regarding the honors, AP and dual-credit course options. “It will suit the students’ interests better, but every student won’t be able to take every class.”
Finance Director Lynn Lawson began his presentation to the board with “housekeeping” information regarding flood lights attached to the back side of Union County High School. He said the lights were worked on Monday, but not repaired.
Lawson said some students left following after school activities with that particular area being dark. He said the lights would be fixed on Tuesday.
The bulk of Lawson’s presentation to the board pertained to the replacement of outdated software with which the district office operates.
Lawson said the district has been running its current software package for the past 12 years.
“It is starting to limit our ability to update procedures,” he said.
Lawson also pointed out that the provider of the current package — CSI Software — was bought out within the last several months.
“Our confidence level of them continuing to support our version is not very high,” Lawson said, explaining that the district has been aware of — and planning for — this change for some time.
Of the other packages the district has examined, Lawson said he was most impressed with “Infinite Visions” by Tyler Technologies. He said Infinite Visions was built especially for school districts and is currently used in over 850 districts in 26 states including South Carolina.
Lawson said the school district is behind the times, especially in the way of the amount of paper — such as deposits, invoices and purchase orders — being pushed back and forth.
“It’s nearly 2013, and the things we’re doing have been eliminated in the business world for the last ten years,” Lawson said, explaining that most of those actions are now completed electronically, eliminating the cost and clutter of paper.
The cost of the Infinite Visions software package will be broken into two areas — licensing at a cost of $ 79,900 and conversion, for which $80,000 will be allocated. Lawson said the district will be billed for hours used during conversion, and the cost will not exceed the allocated $80,000. This means the total cost of the new package will total around $160,000.
“I feel pretty good about the price,” Lawson said. “There are a number of proprietary things in the software that we can’t find anywhere else.”
One of those things is that if the software is upgraded, the district will receive the upgrade at no cost. Also, Tyler Technologies will provide all training and support on site.
“For the next six months, we would have a primary, dedicated person on site to follow this from beginning to end,” Lawson said, mentioning that more support will also be available as needed.
Lawson also commented on the software’s user-friendliness, saying that completing a report is as simple as clicking a couple of criteria.
Career Center Update
Superintendent Dr. Kristi Woodall recommended that the Union County Career and Technology Center operate separately from UCHS, having a separate administrator as it has in years past. Woodall said she would seek an experienced administrator who is familiar with the vocational courses taught through the career center.
“It would be very similar to what we’re doing now,” said Principal Floyd Lyles.
The Career Center Director would handle discipline issues, while the reports of those issues would come from teachers and guidance of both the Career Center and UCHS. The director would also oversee the 16 teachers who work at the center.
Although they would operate separately, the center and UCHS would share guidance, food service and a variety of other aspects. The center’s courses would be scheduled by administrative staff, but they would be scheduled through UCHS guidance.
“They will never really be two campuses because there are too many overlaps,” Woodall said.
Board members requested information about how administration operates on campuses with the same model.
“If you agree to this plan, we will need to make a lot of visits to look at other models,” Woodall said.
Board Meeting Schedule
The board decided in a vote of 5-4 to keep its 21-meeting-per-year schedule for 2013.
The board was presented with two options. The first was to continue to have 21 meetings per year. The second was to cut the schedule to 16 meetings per year, allowing for called meetings if the need arose.
Board members were asked to vote in favor or in opposition of Option 1, and four members were opposed.
One of those four was board chair B.J. McMorris, who said she already anticipates called meetings next year regarding issues that involve Union County Stadium.
Jane Wilkes — who was also opposed to Option 1 — said she did not see the point in spending money on two meetings every month when there could be a called meeting if an important need arises.
2013 Union County Schools Board Meeting Dates
The meeting schedule for 2013 is as follows:
Jan. 14, 2013 – Union County Career and Technology Center
Jan. 28, 2013- Lockhart School
Feb. 11, 2013 – Union County Career and Technology Center
Feb. 25, 2013 – Union County High School
March 11, 2013 - Union County Career and Technology Center (Teacher of the Year Recognition)
March 25, 2013 – Union County Career and Technology Center
April 8, 2013 – Sims Middle School
April 22, 2013 – Union County Career and Technology Center (Academic Banquet)
May 13, 2013 – Union County Career and Technology Center (Retiree Banquet)
June 10, 2013 - Union County Career and Technology Center
June 24, 2013- Union County Career and Technology Center
July 22, 2013 – Union County Career and Technology Center
Aug. 12, 2013 – Union County Career and Technology Center
Aug. 26, 2013 – Jonesville Elementary/Middle School
Sept. 9, 2013 - Union County Career and Technology Center
Sept. 23, 2013 – Buffalo Elementary School
Oct. 14, 2013 — Union County Career and Technology Center
Oct. 28, 2013 – Foster Park Elementary School
Nov. 11, 2013 — Union County Career and Technology Center
Nov. 25, 2013 – Monarch Elementary School
Dec. 9, 2013 - Union County Career and Technology Center
The public and media will be notified if location or times change 24 hours prior to meetings.
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.