Fresh take on schedule, policies considered by Georgetown County School Board

Change is coming to the Georgetown County School District.

The county school board discussed a number of changes for the district at its meeting Tuesday night, such as the anticipated formation of a public Montessori charter school, new policies on background checks for employees and schedule changes for the area high schools

A representative for a group of parents and concerned citizens came before the school board during the meeting to inform the panel of the group's intention to form a charter school that would be part of the school district.

Kristin Bohan said she and some of the members of the Montessori Charter School Planning Committee have children in the Pawleys Island Montessori Day School and wanted to find a way to bring the Montessori methods of teaching to more children in the area.

Bohan said the committee has spent about a year researching the idea of forming a charter school that would be a separate entity from the private school.

She said the group reached out to some of the school board members and felt encouraged by their reactions to the idea.

"We know that we can fill out the 250-page application [with the State Department of Education]," she said. "But the thing that will ensure the success of the group is having a good relationship with the district."

She said the group is expecting to fill out that application and turn it in to the department by May 2. If approved by the state and the school district, the school would open in August 2012.

"It's feasible, it's doable," she said. "The drive is there, and the resources are there."

The board also gave first reading Tuesday to several changes to its policies, most notably those dealing with background checks for district employees and volunteers.

The proposed change would require the district to do a State Law Enforcement Division background check and a National Sex Offender Registry check.

The district would absorb the cost of those checks.

The result of the background check on someone's chance for employment with the district would depend on things like the "severity of offense, age of individual, direct impact of the offense on children."

The proposed policy says that no one who has a violent crime on his or her record will be employed by the district; and no one who is on the National Sex Offender Registry will be allowed to work for the district in any capacity or volunteer.

The policy also says that if someone is denied employment or the chance to volunteer as a result of these checks, he or she will have the chance to hear the reasoning of the board and to respond to the information.

The board will consider second reading of those policy changes at its next meeting.

At its upcoming meetings the board also will hear more about a proposed change to the schedules for the four high schools.

Patti Hammel, on behalf of the high school principals and teachers, presented information to the board about changing from the present block scheduling to a seven-period schedule.

Hammel said the teachers and administrators for the schools had been discussing this change since the school year began and were hoping to have it implemented by the upcoming school year.

She said it would allow more retention time for the students since they would have more consistent course schedules.

But board member Pat DeLeone expressed concern that there was not enough time between now and then to figure out the logistics of making that change.

"We have to make sure we have an effective schedule," she said. "I think we need more input."

The board took no action on the proposal. It will be discussed further at coming meetings.