The D-5 School Board has worked hard to ensure safety and security are a priority as our studnents have returned to school. There are three professionals that are employed on our security team and they are all fully trained to carry a weapon. There has been first reading on a ploicy change that that allows them to carry a weapon on our school grounds. This is very narrow and pertains only to the security team that is employed by our district. Dr. Ross recommends this as another layer of protection for our students. Every school is covered by an SRO officer in the Richland county schools and there are 4 Lexington County schools that SRO officers are still being sought by Sheriff Koon. These are being filled by a private security company with fully trained officers by SLED. They do have the authority to carry a weapon.
In June our board voted to use a portion of our fund balance to fund snacks for every child at every school in District 5. This is important to students who may qualify for free and reduced lunch and it also helps ensure nutition for those that do qualify. As a result of COVID there had been 2 years where children had not been paying for lunch. This program is no longer in use. This caused some confusion for parents. I am proud that our board and Dr. Ross saw an opportunity to add to the nutrition of all our students at every level. Economic times do impact our families and we “love and grow our students”.
The board voted to have a special called meeting on September 19th at the District office. The purpose of the meeting is to present the final Procurement Audit report of Phase One. The board is committed to bring this audit to the people. It is important to be transparent and it is most important to clear up any policies that have allowed wasteful spending. Let me stress that this board must turn over any potential wrongdoing to the State entity that requires oversight in a particular situation. The audit only brings light to the facts and we do not have the authority to decide any wrongdoing. We do, however, have a responsibility to share the findings with the taxpayers and an obligation to make policies that ensure no money is ever mispent or wasted.
We have been meeting with LS3P on the design of Irmo High and are excited as we plan for the new part of Irmo to be built. There are still design questions to be answered but our project is moving forward. We will be dicsussing with the board these design details in the near future.
I know many were disappointed that the Board voted against going for a bond at this time. The vote was to defer it. The board majority felt that the economy was much to fragile to support it at this time. Even though it did not call for a tax increase the idea of inflation was a factor that concerned many of the public. Dr. Ross and his vision is supported but the timing was not right.
One more update. The Facilities Committee met August 29th to make a plan to be always ahead of facility needs such as HVAC units, playground equipement, and locks on all our entry doors. Hats off and a shout out to Dave Weissman who has hit the ground running as Executive Director of Operations with a plan to ensure our facilities are always being cared for and a maintaence plan is in place. There have already been problems at some of our schools with air conditioning units. That is unacceptable for our students and faculty to endure. We even had a problem with our newest school. Please know we are being proactive to ensure this is taken care of.
Again let me end by saying how hard this board has been working to do what is right for all our students and to bring equity to every school.
We want to thank all our teachers, staff, and administrators for a fantastic opening of our schools. The back to school rally was a great sucess.
D5 School Board Chair