Article by Gene Zaleski, The Times and Democrat, February 29, 2020
Orangeburg County School District is asking the state to allow the North/Middle High School and Hunter-Kinard-Tyler High School football programs to combine for the season.
District officials say North doesn’t have enough players.
"Over the last four years at North/Middle High School, they have had to forfeit multiple football games," district Chief of Auxiliary Services Robert Grant said.
"Every time you forfeit a football game, you end up with a $1,500 fine payable to the High School League,” he said.
Grant discussed the issue with school trustees during a board meeting last week.
North only had 13 players to play in the last game, Grant said. There are typically 11 players on the offensive and defensive sides of a football team.
Grant also said with such a low participation rate, the students do not have a chance to practice 11-on-11.
"They do a lot of their practices on one side of the ball, offense or defense, without anybody else," Grant said.
Grant said parent meetings have been held at both schools discussing the issue.
The district sent a letter to the S.C. High School League requesting the combination of the football programs. The district is awaiting a response.
The request will go to Region 3, where the region will vote, and then to the Single A classification body to allow participation in the playoffs, he said.
The commissioner of the High School League will then officially make a decision.
If accepted, the district will finalize what the football season will look like with practice schedules and transportation, Grant said.
If it is not approved, there will be an appeal process.
"We are very confident if it goes through the appeal process that we will be able to prevail in that appeal process," Grant said.
Grant said North will continue to try to recruit players for the school.
All other athletic programs will remain the same in the school.
"This is not a brand-new concept," Grant said. "It is a tried and true concept that has worked."
In addition to the football team, the marching bands have also been combined for the two schools.
"The band would perform for all the football games," Grant said. "They are doing that until they can build up the band program at H-K-T."
Each school will have a homecoming game.
Branchville High School and Edisto High School football teams have combined in the past, he said. Branchville High School’s football program was shut down and then built up to become a successful program.
In other matters:
• Trustees unanimously gave first reading approval to the 180-day 2020-2021 academic calendar with the understanding the calendar can be revisited should there be any changes on the state level.
According to the approved calendar, school will start Monday, Aug. 17.
The calendar does call for a five-day Thanksgiving holiday which includes the Monday after Thanksgiving. If needed, the day is a weather make-up day.
The calendar received input from a number of stakeholders.
• About 42 individuals attended the district’s recruitment fair held Saturday, Feb. 22, at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College.
About eight new teachers and six continuing teachers were hired during the event, District Chief of Human Resources Ernest Holiday said.
Holiday said the district is going to partner with the University of South Carolina College of Education in its Carolina Transition to Teaching Residency program.
The 14-month program looks to encourage individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher to become teachers. The residency provides professional and financial support for the student.
Individuals who complete the residency will get a master’s degree and will have to commit to teach three years in the district. About 40 individuals from the district talked to USC about the program and there will be follow-up meetings, Holiday said.
• Holly Hill Elementary School Principal Sharon Wilson said the school's implementation of the Edgenuity instructional interventionist computerized program has been a success for all students.
The program was implemented this year for students struggling academically based on the Measures of Academic Progress assessment.
The program is tailored to serve the academic needs of each individual student based on grade level. It is a program which is done in conjunction with classroom teaching.
About 17 fifth-grade students participated in the math assessment with a majority of them increasing their math and reading scores from the fall and winter assessments, Wilson said.
• About 13 students from Holly Hill Elementary School were recognized for their success at the 2020 Junior Beta Club Convention held recently.
• Trustees approved the hire of an instructional coach, a third-grade elementary school teacher and a middle school physical education teacher.
• U.S. Census Bureau representative April Richardson encouraged everyone to participate in the census.