District does the math to help failing school

St. Helena Elementary School has a new action plan that the Beaufort County School District hopes will raise its "F" grade on the state report card.

The list of new "action items" fills seven pages. Key items are reducing class sizes and hiring a "math interventionist" to work with students.

Students will be encouraged to attend extra school days to focus on math.

The school is to recruit mentors from the community to work with students.

It will target bad behavior in several ways, hoping to reduce discipline referrals and bullying at school and on the bus. It will establish a Redirection Center for students to manage behavior and reward students on buses with no discipline referrals for a month.

Students, faculty and parents are to get more recognition for successes.

The school will establish a Parent University and create programs to help single parents and grandparents raising grandchildren.

It will encourage more community involvement by holding meetings with faith leaders, inviting people into the school and holding Saturday morning meetings at churches and community sites.

Teachers will be asked for more feedback, with opportunities for a new teacher forum to meet with district staff.

Math is targeted for a good reason. If St. Helena Elementary could match the math performance of similar schools, its state report card grade would rise to a high "C."

The action plan has included input from parents and the school board.

But a plan in and of itself will not do the trick.

Surely, there have been many action plans at St. Helena Elementary and schools around the county for many years.

Families must have their own action plans.

So must the students. Too many students nationwide are leaving themselves behind by not trying their hardest.

St. Helena Island as a whole also needs an action plan. Civic groups, neighborhoods, churches, businesses -- and anyone willing to give extra time and attention to the school -- need to act now and prepare to be there for the long haul.

Part of that participation -- through parent organizations and otherwise -- must include holding feet to the fire. The school, the school district office and the school board must be held accountable for seeing that the "action plan" turns into action and then into student achievement.