HAMLET — Richmond County Schools continues to make gains and close achievement gaps when compared to districts in the Sandhills region and the state, Director of Testing and Accountability Jennifer Brach told the Board of Education last week.
The 2018-2019 testing proficiency rate of 56% for grades 3-5 was very close to the state average of 59%, Branch said, ranking RCS at No. 4 in the 15-district Sandhills Region and nearly doubling the rate from several years ago.
In 2013, RCS was only at 33% proficient, trailing the state average by 25 percent, according to Branch.
“Richmond County Schools has steadily closed that gap each year,” Branch said, adding that the district no longer has schools ranked as low-performing, making it one of three in the region.
That being said, most of the schools have a performance score in the 60s with a letter grade of C.
Richmond Early College High School remains at the top of the pack with improvement every year and has maintained an A for the past three years, according to a chart.
The only other school without a C grade is Mineral Springs Elementary. Although its grade dropped from 72 to 70, it still retains its B grade from the previous year.
Two schools — Cordova and Monroe Avenue — improved their grades from a D to a C, whereas two others — Fairview Heights and the Ninth-Grade Academy — dropped in status, the latter from an A to a C.
Richmond leads the Sandhills Region with 93% in meeting growth expectations, Branch continued. According to a chart, most of the other school systems fell in the 60-75% range, except for neighboring Scotland, which was at 36%.
The county’s graduation rate also has seen improvement.
That has increased to 81% from 79% in 2014, according to Branch.
“When looking at each high school, Richmond Early College has reported a cohort graduation
rate of greater than 95 percent for the past five consecutive years, while Richmond Senior High
School reported an 80 percent graduation rate,” Branch said. “Ashley Chapel Educational Center uses an Alternative School Model-Option B for accountability.”
“As always, we have been analyzing district and school data and meeting with principals to
discuss how we can improve in areas and implement effective strategies in meeting those goals,” Superintendent Dr. Jeff Maples said. “Richmond County Schools continued improvement in our state accountability outcomes validates everyone’s hard work and dedication to all our students. It is truly a team effort and it is a privilege to serve with such dedicated professionals.”
The board approved a new teacher supplement scale, which will allow teachers to see an increase in their county supplement every five years, rather than the way they have in the past. Board members were in unanimous approval of this supplement scale.
The board also approved a request for a supplement for all non-certified staff who are permanent part-time (20-plus hours a week). They would receive the supplement once a year, in November. The scale would also show an increase every five years.
Several board members expressed thanks to those involved in finding the available funds to
allow this salary supplement to be possible.
Inspiring Excellence Awards were presented to three employees at Fairview Heights Elementary School.
Lillie Steele has been driving a school bus for more than eight years. She is described as being dependable, displaying a positive attitude and leadership qualities.
Crystal Williams, the school’s bookkeeper, is known as a team player. Besides running the front office, she also designs Tshirts.
Halena Brown is a fifth-grade English/Language Arts/Social Studies master teacher who has been working for 29 years. Her principal describes her as hardworking and dependable.
Principal Angela Watkins of Washington Street School also recognized two of her cafeteria staff with awards for Inspiring Excellence.
Christine Greer and Kathy Gilliam “are part of the Washington Street family,” Watkins said. Both of the ladies have been diagnosed with cancer, but have continued to come to work consistently while undergoing treatment.
“They love the children and treat them with kindness,” the principal added.
Staff from RSHS came forward and shared an experience involving a student who experienced breathing difficulties, and 911 was called to take the student to the hospital. The student has not
yet returned to school, but is “doing well” and is expected to return soon. Teachers and the nurses who assisted “deserve praise” and the hospital staff shared that they “were impressed” by the way the RSHS staff handled the situation.
The student’s grandmother has also expressed she is “thankful.”
School Board member Bobbie Sue Ormsby said situations like that are why a full-time nurse is needed at every school.
Dr. Kate Smith, executive director of curriculum and instruction, presented a report about the Leadership Development Cohort that has recently begun for employees interested in becoming future school administrators. There are 12 staff members who have had their first meeting. The book “Dare to Lead” by Brene Brown will be part of the group’s reading assignment, and they will meet on a monthly basis.
School board members shared experiences from the first month of school, including attending numerous athletic events, celebrations at Monroe Avenue and Cordova for meeting goals, grilling burgers for National Cheeseburger Day, delivering donated school supplies, and a special program for students about drug awareness.
Maples announced that October is National Principals Month, and they should be recognized for the great work they do. There will be special activities planned for them during the month.
Following the approval of three field trips, the board went into closed session to discuss personnel issues.
William R. Toler contributed to this story.