Strive report on effectiveness lacking information, district says

rheaton@beaufortgazette.comDecember 8, 2011 

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A report on Strive to Excel's effectiveness submitted to the school district has been sent back to the nonprofit organization with a request for more information.

The report, part of an agreement Strive signed with the district to continue its mentoring program in Hilton Head Island High and Middle schools, describes some Strive activities and names high school seniors in Strive who have been accepted to colleges since 2000, when the program began.

It doesn't include information on the organization's financial state, results of a survey of students and parents or data on students' academic progress while participating in Strive -- all of which are required by the agreement.

A Beaufort County School District official said Strive will have until Thursday to file a report that includes that information.

Calling the submitted document a draft, Sean Alford, the district's instructional services chief, said he is confident Strive will submit a complete report by the deadline.

But if it doesn't include the missing information, the group would likely get another chance to meet those requirements, Alford said.

The point of the report, he said, is to gather information about Strive and its effectiveness, not to punish the organization.

"The ultimate goal is to make sure we have a model that works for the kids," Alford said. "The last thing we want to do is get into a relationship (with Strive) where it's either 'you do this or we're not going to let you serve kids.'"

The report was submitted Dec. 2, district spokesman Jim Foster said. There was no deadline for the first submission, Alford said.

The agreement between the district and Strive requires the report to be submitted annually in October. But that agreement wasn't signed until Oct. 20 this year.

Alford said Strive can use the district's survey of its participants, administered earlier this school year, to fulfill that requirement. Results from a survey of parents will need to be included, too, in next week's report.

The submitted report includes several apparent inconsistencies:

  • It references office space at Hilton Head Island High, which the district has said it will not provide as of Dec. 31. A notation on a copy of the report indicates that district superintendent Valerie Truesdale has crossed out references to the office space in the report.

  • It indicates that students in Strive range from fourth to 12th grade. A few pages later, it said the organization is for grades six through 12.

  • The report includes references to a Strive program at Bluffton High School. The program has not been there since the 2009-10 school year.

  • A sentence that reads: "Strive to Excel, Inc. is requesting this grant to enable a highly successful and well established program to continue within Hilton Head Island High School, to create a new program at Hilton Head Island High School to provide special assistance to African-American males, and to assist its expansion into the new Bluffton High School."

  • Alford said that sentence likely was a "cut and paste" error.

    "I guess whoever put that in there cut too much and pasted it in, and they didn't edit that very well," he said. "When the final report comes, that editing will be corrected."

    Strive CEO and president Tim Singleton, who wrote the report, declined comment.

    Attempts Thursday to reach Strive board chairman Ike Evans and vice chairman Coleman Peterson, both of whom reviewed the report, were unsuccessful.

    Strive board secretary Tom Gardo said Thursday he had not reviewed the report.

    Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.

    Related content

    1. Salary for nonprofit head comes under scrutiny; Aug. 29, 2011
    2. Superintendent announces Strive to Excel changes; Sept. 20, 2011
    3. Strive students happy with program, district survey shows; Sept. 24, 2011

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