Board discusses construction management, security issues
New officers, construction management and accreditation were some of the topics discussed during the Dorchester School District 2’s first regular session meeting of the year.
The board started off the meeting with the election and appointment of new officers. Board member Lisa Tupper nominated Board Chair Fran Townsend for another term as chairman but the nomination received no second and died. Board member Charlie Stoudenmire then nominated Gail Hughes as chair; this was seconded and passed 5-1, with Stoudenmire, Barbara Crosby, Tanya Robinson, and Sam Clark voting in favor and Tupper voting against the nomination.
Stoudenmire was then nominated and elected as vice chair.
Hughes thanked the board for placing their trust in her for the position and praised Townsend’s performance as chair.
“I would like to thank Fran for her work – you have done an awesome job as chairwoman and leave me some mighty big shoes to fill,” Hughes said.
Hughes’ first act as the new board chairwoman was to appoint Tanya Robinson as secretary.
The board heard a brief update from DD2 Director of Security Mike Turner.
Turner told the board that at the request of Superintendent Joe Pye, he and several other district officials have conducted inspections of every school in the district to check for any potential security issues.
The audit encompassed physical plant inspections as well as safety policies and procedure reviews, he said.
“We have a lot of buildings that were built during different eras,” Turner said. “Older schools obviously will require more attention – but we also found quite a lot of things that we do very well. Principals and staff in our schools are very cognizant of safety and their responsibilities.”
Many issues such as adding more lighting and better fencing to certain areas won’t be difficult to do but they do need to be completed as soon as possible and priorities have been identified, he said.
Turner also said that area law enforcement agencies have been asked to inspect the schools in their jurisdictions to provide feedback from a law enforcement point of view.
Turner said he would inform the board of those findings when they become available.
Construction project management
On a motion from Charlie Stoudenmire with an amendment by Tanya Robinson, the board voted 5-2 to establish an organizational hierarchy to manage upcoming major construction projects.
Part of this plan involves forming a citizens oversight committee, which will be charged with monitoring all expenditures of revenues generated by the bond referendum that was passed in November.
In order to help the district effectively manage these large projects, the plan calls for the board to hire a Building Program Facilitator who will be over all the projects and who will be independent of both the contractors and the district. That person will report to a Project Review Team that will consist of two board members and superintendent Joe Pye, which will ensure that ultimate responsibility falls on the board and the district and not just one individual.
The construction projects will be broken down into three clusters, with cluster 1 consisting of the three new elementary school building projects, cluster 2 consisting of the new middle school of the arts, Career and Technical education wings, district offices, and aquatic center, and cluster 3 consisting of miscellaneous projects not specifically spelled out in the other two.
Each cluster will have a project manager who will be over the architects, contractors, and site managers.
Board member Frances Townsend raised a concern about whether or not the project review committee would be advisory or supervisory and if it is supervisory what are possible legal ramifications to individual board members. She suggested consulting a lawyer to help clear up those issues, which the board agreed to do.
The board approved the plan 5-2 with Hughes, Stoudenmire, Crosby, Clark, and Robinson voting in favor and Townsend and Tupper voting against the plan.
• The board honored 18 new National Board Certified Teachers as well as ten teachers who earned certification renewals.
• Dr. Larry Barnfield announced that Emily Enloe, a first year dance teacher at Oakbrook Middle School, is the recipient of the National Dance Education Association’s Graduate Student Scholarship. She is the only instructor in the country to receive this scholarship this year.
• Jill Carway, owner of Four Green Fields Gallery and Gifts, a former arts student in the district, presented the district with a check for $750 to be used in the District’s Fine Arts programs. Carway started this fundraiser last year as a way to give back to the district, she said.
“When I was an arts student here no one ever tried to discourage me from a career in the arts,” she said. “On the contrary, they encouraged and nurtured it. So in that spirit we started this fundraiser and this is the second year we have been able to present a check.”
• DD2 PIO Pat Raynor reported that Fort Dorchester Elementary School is one of three elementary schools statewide chosen as finalists for Palmetto’s Finest; Ashley Ridge High School is the only high school in the state being considered for the award at the high school level. Final decisions from the state are expected in February, she said.
In addition, Eagles Nest Elementary School was named to the SC School Improvement Council’s Honor Roll, Raynor told the board.
• The board heard an update on the accreditation process from Assistant Superintendent Sean Alford.