Reflections on Campaigning October 2014

One of the pleasures of campaigning for re-election to the School Board is walking and talking with many people in the lovely neighborhoods which abound in Rock Hill.  Seat 4 encompasses most of the neighborhoods on the East side of Oakland Ave. at the Railroad overpass and over to Anderson on the east; on the west up Ebenezer and then between Twin Lakes and Mount Gallant all the way to the point where those two roads meet.  You will recognize that Seat 4 area includes some of our oldest neighborhoods as well as many newer ones.

Note: The Rock Hill Board is embarked on a year-long examination of all items included the Rock Hill School Board Governance and Operations Policies Manual.  This is in response to a directive given by our accreditation report from AdvancED.  Therefore, I have included supporting Policies here.

As I talk to folks I often point out the strengths of our schools.  I talk of the very strong corps of teachers in Rock Hill and the variety of programs from choice schools at elementary and middle to the strong range of college and career preparation opportunities in our high schools.  I also often ask for their input about our schools.  (from Policy BA on School Board Operational Goals: …to maintain two way communication with various publics served by the schools in order to interpret public attitudes, to encourage public involvement with and understanding of the schools.) (Also, Policy BB School Board Legal Status:  The Board is, by law and tradition, responsible to the community it serves…….to carry out the will of the community in matters of public education.)  Most of those with students in our schools presently or previously have been pleased with their child’s experience.  I carry those good comments away to be treasured like warm coals in winter.

I have found in many of the older neighborhoods that as older folks are moving out they are being replaced by young families with young children.  That is happening on the street I live on, Milton Avenue, and I see that as a very positive happening.  However, a few parents with very young children are worried that our schools’ outcomes do not always match surrounding districts.  I point out, as needs to be done, that Rock Hill is educating a much more varied community of students and that we should not be compared with the state’s most atypical district.  (See Policy BA above)  We compare favorably with districts of similar populations to Rock Hill.

Because we believe we can do even better, in 2012 the Board adopted as its prime objective improving achievement. I also point this out when I am talking with folks and say that our student performance is our bottom line; our profit for our community, and should be monitored by the Board.  (Policy BBA: The Board is responsible for requiring and acquiring reliable information on District level outcomes which will enable it and the staff to work toward the continuing improvement of the education program.)(Also, Policy BDD Board & Superintendent Relation:  For the board Require and discuss reports of the superintendent concerning the progress at the district level of achievements of pupils.   The matching responsibility for the superintendent is  Formulate and administer means of evaluating student achievement and the staff and report on the process to the board.)

After making an increase in student achievement the Board’s number one objective, the Chairman appointed a Board Academic Committee to facilitate obtaining information on district level outcomes. This committee discontinued meeting after the hiring of a permanent Superintendent.  Dr. Pew is very committed to monitoring and supporting ever-increasing student learning.  She, as the Board, knows that we have a strong school district but must always work together toward the day when every student in every school will emerge from Rock Hill Schools ready for college, tech school, or career.  One could take this increased focus on outcomes as disapproval of what existed before.  On the contrary, it is a restatement of what has always been Board responsibility and a recognition of our District’s capability.

The pleasant news I am finding as I walk is that the great majority of folks; young career, families with children, empty nesters, retired, and the elderly all wish to support our schools.  They all want our schools to be the best they can be – for all of our children.

One of my favorite Policy statements is from BCA:  Board Member Code of Ethics;  The public schools play a vital and important role in our state and country by providing the basic foundation for democratic living and for sustaining the American way of life.  A board member should be thinking always in terms of “children first’”.

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