Two Columbia County elementary schools will offer Spanish to their students next year now that the Columbia County Board of Education has approved waivers that will allow them to fit the subject into their day.
The board approved waivers for Stevens Creek and South Columbia elementary schools with little fanfare. The vote comes just two months after the board approved elementary curriculum guidelines that increase the amount of time students spend in core classes and structure the minutes spent in art, music and physical education.
As a compromise, the hotly debated guidelines also included a provision which allows schools to deviate from these standards, with board approval.
"Both of these plans shaved 15 to 20 minutes off academic core subjects," School Superintendent Tommy Price told the board. "...We felt good about both requests."
Stevens Creek and South Columbia began offering Spanish after receiving a state grant for the then-pilot program about five years ago. But until this year, the schools had to comply with grant guidelines to receive the money - about $25,000 per teacher. The guidelines require the schools to offer foreign language instruction to pupils in kindergarten through fifth grade for 30 minutes a day.
In her waiver proposal, South Columbia Elementary School Principal Donna Murray said she plans to ask the state for a waiver to only offer foreign language in second through fifth grades.
Also at the meeting, the board approved three personnel changes.
Greenbrier High School Principal Gloria Hamilton will move to the central office to take on a newly created position as Title I instructional improvement director.
According to an annual report on the federal Title I program, Euchee Creek, Grovetown and North Harlem elementary schools are not meeting standards, and the Columbia County School System could be forced to pay for the transportation cost of moving pupils to higher-performing schools this fall.
This position was created by the board to help those schools improve.
"We believe she will help us achieve the academic results we are looking for," Price said.
Martinez Elementary School Assistant Principal Michele Sherman will take over as principal of the school next year, replacing Lauren Williams who was recently named to an administrative position.
Ms. Sherman, an Augusta State University graduate with an education specialists degree, has been assistant principal at the school for the past three years. She has six years of teaching experience, one at Grovetown Elementary and five at Burke County.
Her goal for next year, she said, will be to maintain the status quo.
"We have a great staff and parents and next year I plan to keep doing all the good things we're doing now," she said.
Lakeside High School's band director Robert Jerrell, who has been at the school since it opened 14 years ago, was named the assistant principal of Greenbrier Middle School.
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