Teacher morale, new policies still focus of public concerns - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Teacher morale, new policies still focus of public concerns

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SUMTER, SC (WIS) -

Parents and students continued to voice their concerns about low teacher morale and new educational policies being implemented in the Sumter School District during Monday's board meeting.

Eight people spoke during a public comment section at Sumter School Board on Monday, with six of those voicing concerns for students' education and teachers' welfare. The board allowed 15 minutes for public comments with 2 and a half minutes per person.

Sumter High students Lance Foxworth and Blake Ward spoke on behalf of a newly-developed student coalition to highlight low teacher morale and asked board members why their input has not been taken into account to bring change.

On the other hand, Mariah McKellar, who is a parent of Sumter students and a product of Sumter public schools, defined public education from her perspective and shared with the board results of an anonymous teacher survey of elementary to high school educators. McKellar said it is "heart-wrenching" what teachers wrote.

"One teacher wrote, ‘It's a shame teachers feel their voice doesn't matter,'" McKellar said, adding another teacher said she "prays daily that someone will fight for the children."

"Majority of our teachers are unsatisfied," McKellar continued.

Of 75 teachers who answered McKellar's survey, she said 63 said they are looking for another teaching job in neighboring public and private schools.

"What will you as a school board do to keep our Sumter teachers from leaving?" she asked the board Monday.

Another parent and military spouse Nicole Brockway asked the board members a series of questions on a new grading system for Sumter children from kindergarten to second grade. 

"The one thing I choose to speak about tonight is the grading system," Brockway said. "Why were we chosen to do this? How were the teachers educated on this before it was implemented? How were the principals educated? Was this prepared before school started?"

Brockway said military families, since they make up majority of Sumter School District students, should be taken into consideration with a new grading system since there is a possibility they will not stay in the Sumter community until their children graduate high school. Brockway's time was up before she was able to finish addressing the board.

Sumter School Board Chairman Keith Schultz said that he "will be actively involved in responses back to (the public) in a timely fashion."

WIS Investigates team is meeting with Sumter School District Superintendent Randolph Bynum this week to address parent and teacher concerns on the new grading system and an instructional audit program being used to evaluate teachers.

 

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