District targets five struggling schools for extra help to boost achievement

rheaton@islandpacket.comAugust 21, 2012 

  • - Unanimously accepted a $1,000 donation from the Sea Island Rotary Club to Beaufort Middle School for school uniforms. Board member Steven Morello was absent.

    - Unanimously approved the authorization of $13 million in bonds to fund capital projects and make annual payments on some debts.

    - Delayed discussion of County Council's notice to vacate St. Helena Elementary's library â€" and the request for $150,000 in payback funds â€" until the Sept. 4 board meeting.

  • Five struggling Beaufort County schools will get extra help this school year to boost student achievement.
  • The Beaufort County Board of Education heard a report Tuesday on how district officials plan to increase student performance on standardized tests at St. Helena Elementary, Broad River Elementary, Joseph S. Shanklin Elementary, Whale Branch Elementary and Whale Branch Middle schools.

    Though plans are not yet set in stone, some options include extending instruction time for some students to 5 p.m. twice a week, increasing training for teachers and providing reading and math coaches.

    At least two of the schools -- St. Helena Elementary and Whale Branch Elementary -- could see class sizes capped at 20 students, which may mean adjustments to student class placement in the next few weeks.

    Superintendent Valerie Truesdale told the board she doesn't anticipate additional costs from the changes. Instead, resources and funding would be shifted from other areas toward the five schools, which have struggled to close achievement gaps and meet state averages on standardized tests for four years.

    School board members asked about the extra tutoring time proposed on Tuesdays and Thursdays at some schools. Board member Michael Rivers asked how this tutoring would be different from other extra instruction time St. Helena Elementary had done in the past.

    School officials told the board the tutoring would be done by the children's teachers -- people who know their strengths and weaknesses.

    Truesdale said more concrete plans for the schools will be made, and changes will be implemented in the next few weeks.

    Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.

    Related content:

    St. Helena Branch Library lease: County's $150K gain would be school district's pain; Aug. 15, 2012

    Beaufort County students continue gains on state assessments; Aug. 2, 2012

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