School year starts with full teaching staff, tighter security

  • Friday, August 22, 2014

The new school year begins with a full staff of teachers and facility upgrades, according to Georgetown County School District staff.

Each school district department presented a “back-to-school report” to the school board at its meeting Aug. 19.

Jon Tester, executive director of human resources, proudly announced to the school board that as of the day before school started, there were no professional vacancies, which includes teachers and school administrators, in the district.

He said there are only four classified staff vacancies – three food service operators and one custodian.

“It’s a difficult task,” he said of completing the hiring process during the summer, but one the school district managed to accomplish last year as well.

Tester said he’s not worried about filling the four classified vacancies: “We’ll get those too, very shortly I believe.

“I’m just excited to get our people in place to get the new school year started.”

He reminded the school board that in case of any unexpected resignations, his office also has a “large pool of qualified retirees” to select temporary replacement teachers from.

The summertime also saw many facility upgrades, according to Bill Crompton, director of facilities.

The largest construction project was the upgrade of the auditorium at Georgetown High School, which Crompton said is very close to completion.

“They are finishing two months ahead of their contract,” he announced.

The work on facilities included several safety changes in the summer months, such as replacing exit and emergency lights in schools.

Repairing and replacing parking lot and football lights is also taking place, Crompton said.

Security upgrades were completed over the summer, Director of Safety and Risk Management Alan Walters said.

Although he was reluctant to mention specific upgrades in an effort to protect the schools, he did say the entrance hardening project has made advancements in school security.

“Things may not be as open as they once were,” he offered as an example.

Walters said cameras, security systems and radios were all upgrades over the summer, and school resource officers participated in extensive trainings.

Traffic arrows at the schools were also redone this summer, which Walters said is an example of a small change that can make a huge difference in safety.

“We train for these worst-case scenarios, but really what’s most likely to happen is a traffic accident.”

Other department reports included confirmation that the district’s 77 school buses are ready for the new year, an announcement that some elementary school staff members will begin taking group classes on reading instruction through the University of South Carolina, and an update on the Child Development Education Program, which has waiting lists at some schools, but also has a small number of vacancies in the Pleasant Hill and Sampit areas.

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