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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Mandate or Another Fleecing?

It seems our elected School Board Members are misleading the public yet again ...

The School Board has told us that it is a South Carolina State “MANDATE” to have an Alternative School in place in our county...and they had to hurry up and get this taken care of because their waiver had expired.

The definition of MANDATE is mandatory which implies under threat of being illegal.

We requested proof of this “mandate” from John Eby, spokesperson for The School District Of Pickens County. He sent us the documentation.

Below is what the SC Alternative School Legislation states and I have highlighted the section which states clearly this is “encouraged” and therefore is not a MANDATE and the word “school districts which choose” is clearly not a MANDATE. You should read the whole legislation to get a clearer understanding. The point is the School Board using the term MANDATE was not exactly factual. It was never a MANDATE to have an Alternative School program. 

What this further illustrates is the STATE is responsible for education and if it were a MANDATE then the State should be building the school for Alternative students to be housed in. Instead, we the taxpayers are having to fund the program because SDPC “chose” to adopt the program...they were not MANDATED to adopt the program.

What this also brings into question is, once support staff and administrators are paid for this new "Alternative School", will the cost to the school district be more than the previous primary function of the school - being a great mountain school that was producing some of the best graduates for Pickens High School?

It is time WE THE PEOPLE quit being is time the SC STATE fulfill it's duty to fully fund education...It is time the School Board tells the State, “sure we will have an Alternative program if you BUILD the facility.

It's clear the taxpayers were lied to by the board that the two rural schools could not remain open because the enrollment was low and there were no funds. Now we have them opening back up one of those schools which will have less students and still funding the operation and upkeep.

The question also remains; did they ask the group (SCAGO) that the district borrowed $365+ million to build new schools (and used existing schools as collateral) from if THEY could do this?

It's clear there are requirements to follow a certain set of rules if you want the funding. But is clear this Altenative School choice was NOT a MANDATE.

Now the next questions for YOU the taxpayer...Was it a good decision to oust the local rural schools children from their local community school so that bad behavior children can make use of their once loved effective school? Is the school district going to save or lose or break even on our money with this Alternative school than having the original elementary school used as it was designed? Are you going to sit back and allow the School Board to ignore the will of the people and mislead the parents who lived in AR Lewis district who wanted their child to have a local school and not be bused off to an overcrowded situation? If not you need to be attending the next school board meeting on January 23, 2017 at 6:00PM ...get there a little early and sign up to VOICE YOUR CONCERNS...


Alternative Schools

SECTION 59-63-1300. Alternative school programs established.

The General Assembly finds that a child who does not complete his education is greatly limited in obtaining employment, achieving his full potential, and becoming a productive member of society. It is, therefore, the intent of this article to encourage district school boards throughout the State to establish alternative school programs. These programs shall be designed to provide appropriate services to students who for behavioral or academic reasons are not benefiting from the regular school program or may be interfering with the learning of others. It is further the intent of this article that cooperative agreements may be developed among school districts in order to implement innovative exemplary programs.

HISTORY: 1999 Act No. 107, Section 1.

SECTION 59-63-1310. Alternative school programs; individual or cooperative programs; funding; sites.

School districts which choose to establish, maintain, and operate, either individually or as a cooperative agreement among districts, alternative school programs shall be eligible for funding provided by the General Assembly for this purpose. The program must be operated at a site separate from other schools unless operated at a time when those schools are not in session or in another building on campus which would provide complete separation from other students. However, an existing alternative school program located in a defined area within a building which provides complete separation from other students and which otherwise meets the criteria established herein may continue at this site if the location is approved by the Department of Education. Provided, that a school district or consortium may apply for a waiver to the site requirement for a new program if it demonstrates to the satisfaction of the State Department of Education that no separate site is available and the cost of temporary classroom space cannot be justified, then the alternative school program may be established in a defined area within a building which provides complete separation from other students if the location is approved by the Department of Education. This waiver may be granted for a period of two years. In order for the district or consortium to reapply for a waiver, they must outline efforts made to acquire a separate facility.

HISTORY: 1999 Act No. 107, Section 1.

SECTION 59-63-1320. Referral or placement of students in alternative school programs.

Eligible alternative school programs shall be provided for, but not limited to, students in grades 6-12 as follows:

(1) Students referred for voluntary attendance at the alternative school program and meeting the district criteria to attend based upon a documented need for the attention and assistance beyond that of a traditional program as established by the academic history of the student, including the student's academic plan as required in Section 59-18-500, and following other policies and procedures for documenting need established by the district board of trustees.

(2) Students referred for voluntary attendance at the alternative school program and meeting the district criteria to attend based upon a documented need for the program due to habitual exhibitions of disruptive behavior in violation of the student conduct policies and behavior codes approved by the school board of trustees.

Districts must establish clear guidelines and procedures for the referral of any student into an alternative school program and before a decision is made to assign a student to an alternative school program, a determination must be made that the written and distributed academic and disciplinary policies of the district have been followed.

(3) Students placed in an alternative school program by the district board of trustees as an option to suspension or expulsion or by the dispositive order of a family court judge, with the consent of the local board of trustees. However, before a student may be placed in an alternative school program, a determination must be made by the local board that the written and distributed disciplinary policy of the district has been followed. Districts must establish clear guidelines and procedures for the placement of any student into an alternative school program and at a minimum they shall prescribe due process procedures for placement actions.

When students are being considered for placement in an alternative school program, districts must consider the requirements of the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

If a student placed by the board of trustees in an alternative school program enrolls in another school district before the expiration of the period of placement, the board of trustees of the district requiring the placement shall provide to the district in which the student enrolls, at the same time other records of the student are provided, information concerning the student's placement in an alternative school program. Upon review of the information, the district in which the student enrolls may continue an alternative education program placement or may allow the student to attend regular classes without completing the period of the placement.

HISTORY: 1999 Act No. 107, Section 1.

SECTION 59-63-1330. Discretion of school board.

Nothing in this article shall abrogate the authority of any public school district and its governing board to take such disciplinary action as it is otherwise empowered by law to take against any student for misconduct including, but not limited to, expulsion, and nothing in this chapter shall require that any student be assigned to such an alternative school. These decisions shall rest solely in the discretion of the district and school board, regardless of the offense, record of the child, or other information presented from any source.

HISTORY: 1999 Act No. 107, Section 1.

SECTION 59-63-1340. Scheduling, administrative structure, curriculum and setting.

Within the requirements of Section 59-1-440, alternative school programs may differ from traditional education programs and schools in scheduling, administrative structure, curriculum, or setting and state requirements may be waived in these areas if such waiver assists the alternative school in meeting its purpose.

HISTORY: 1999 Act No. 107, Section 1.

SECTION 59-63-1350. Eligibility for funding.

To be eligible for funding, a district or consortium must submit a plan for the program which includes:

(a) mission statement;

(b) the policy for the basis of enrollment in the school;

(c) location of the alternative school program; and

(d) description of how the school will focus on the educational and behavioral needs of the students. This description must include strategies for individual student instruction plans, evaluations at regular intervals of the student's educational and behavioral progress, instructional methods in meeting academic achievement standards in the core academic areas, provisions for a low pupil-teacher ratio, utilization of available technology, strict codes of student conduct, counseling, strategies to gain strong parental input and support, strategies to ensure students will adapt to a regular school setting upon departure from the alternative school program, and student time lines for meeting the academic and conduct standards set. The alternative program may be provided in conjunction with the adult education program, where appropriate. Goals, interim goals, and data collection for program evaluation must be a part of the program plan.

The instructional program should enable students to make the transition to a regular school program, earn a high school diploma or GED, or seek post-secondary education. Steps should be taken to ensure that credit earned by students participating in the alternative school program can be transferred to other public schools in the State; provided, nothing herein shall prohibit school districts and/or the South Carolina Department of Education from establishing and providing new and innovative programs as may be authorized otherwise under law to meet the unique needs of alternative school students who otherwise might drop out of school or never be able successfully to complete the requirements for a diploma.

HISTORY: 1999 Act No. 107, Section 1.

SECTION 59-63-1360. Transportation.

A school district or consortium shall determine what, if any, transportation shall be provided to students attending an alternative school in accordance with written district guidelines.

HISTORY: 1999 Act No. 107, Section 1.

SECTION 59-63-1370. Teachers at alternative school programs; staff development.

Each school district or consortium shall establish procedures for ensuring that teachers assigned to alternative school programs possess the pedagogical and content-related skills necessary to meet the needs of the student population served by the school. Each school board also shall ensure that adequate staff development activities are available for alternative school program faculty and staff and ensure that the faculty and staff participate in these activities. The State Department of Education in consultation with other appropriate entities shall provide assistance to school districts in the development of staff development programs which include best practices. These programs shall be made available to all district teachers.

HISTORY: 1999 Act No. 107, Section 1.

SECTION 59-63-1380. Funding for alternative school programs.

A school district shall allocate to an alternative school program the same per student expenditure to include federal, state, and local funds that would be allocated to the student's school if the student were attending the student's regularly assigned school. This shall include any appropriate special education funding.
Districts or consortia meeting the eligibility requirements for alternative school funding shall receive an annual base funding minimum of $30,000 or up to $200,000 depending on the student population of the district; however, districts forming consortia will have as their base funding an amount equal to the total of the individual district's base funding, not to exceed $350,000. The State Department of Education, for the purposes of establishing base funding, shall group districts according to their average daily membership and assign the amount of base funding that districts in a grouping would receive for eligible programs. Unobligated funds from state appropriations for base funding which become available during a fiscal year may be redistributed on a per pupil basis to eligible programs in countywide districts receiving base funding of less than $100,000; however, this redistributed funding shall not become part of the base funding for the following year. Increases in fiscal year 2000-2001 funding over the fiscal year 1999-2000 recurring and nonrecurring funding shall be used to increase countywide districts' base funding by fifty percent and this new amount shall constitute their base funding.

It is the intent of the General Assembly that, after meeting the funding requirements for base funding, eligible programs, beginning with school year 2000-2001, shall also receive per pupil funding based on the average daily membership of the students served by the program at an Education Finance Act weighting of 1.49 and beginning with school year 2001-2002 a weighting of 1.74. Per pupil funds for the alternative school program shall be distributed through the Education Finance Act formula provided for in Section 59-20-40. Beginning with school year 2002-2003, every district or district consortium shall provide alternative school opportunities for their students in grades 6-12, provided that state funding for alternative school programs is not reduced below the appropriation received in fiscal year 2001-2002.

These funds shall be used for the establishment, maintenance, and operation of alternative schools programs. Funds also may be used to provide for staff development needs pursuant to Section 59-63-1370.

Districts or consortia developing plans for the establishment of an alternative school shall be eligible for a planning grant of no more than $5,000 if criteria established by the State Board of Education are met.

HISTORY: 1999 Act No. 107, Section 1.

SECTION 59-63-1390. Regulations; annual review.

The State Board of Education shall promulgate regulations for establishment, maintenance, and operation of alternative school programs to include clear procedures for annual review of the implementation and progress of the alternative school program and a three-year cycle evaluation shall examine the success of this initiative. If an annual review or the evaluation finds a program is not making progress to carry out the alternative school plan or meeting the locally established measures of success, the Department of Education shall provide technical assistance and future funding may be terminated.

HISTORY: 1999 Act No. 107, Section 1.

SECTION 59-63-1400. Review; technical assistance.

The State Department of Education shall review alternative school plans for eligibility for funding and provide technical assistance for planning, establishing, and implementing an alternative school based on best practice. The department shall assist any district or consortia whose plan does not meet the eligibility criteria; however, no funding will be approved until the plan ensures implementation of appropriate services for students served by the alternative school.

HISTORY: 1999 Act No. 107, Section 1.

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