By Al Dozier
Richland District 2 is fully staffed for the 2020-2021 School Year despite the coronavirus.
According to an update from the Human Resources Department presented at the Richland 2 Board meeting Sept. 8, , the “fill rate” was 99.98 percent as the school year began. The only vacancies were one elementary school teacher, one middle school teacher and two high school teachers. The numbers showed the district’s new hires for the year totaled 309.
The presentation included a break-down on race, which has become an item of interest to the district as it seeks to hire more black male teachers.
According to district-wide employment, Richland 2 has 1,446 white females (38 percent of the workforce) and 1,289 black females (34 percent). White males number 383 (10 percent), and black males number 336 (9 percent).
Superintendent Baron Davis is seeking a major increase in the employment of black male teachers who can have a strong impact on black students in the class room. He said it’s an ambitious goal because there are not that many black males in the education field.
The district has career fairs planned for November, December, January and March to continue the recruiting effort.
Richland 2 is working with some local colleges to enhance the recruiting effort. One such program, The Alternative Pathways to Educator Certification (APEC), is located at Columbia College. Some local colleges with predominantly African-American students are also helping in the recruitment effort.
The board received a report on the district’s school reopening plan, which calls for three phases as the district assess the spread of the coronavirus.
Phase 1 calls for R2eSchool and eLearning while the overall rating of the coronavirus in Richland County remains high. Phase 2 calls for the same programs in pre-kindergarten through grade 5, but adds blended models for grades 6-12. Traditional learning will take place in Phase 3, as the overall rating for the virus remains at a low level.
The board also adopted measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on face masks requirements.
The CDC recommends that a face covering be worn in public settings when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. This policy is based on the guidelines established by the South Carolina Department of Education, which require face coverings to be worn on school buses and within public school facilities.
During the board’s executive session the board addressed an agenda item titled “breach of contract.”
In the regular session the board unanimously approved four counts of “breach of contract.”
The Northeast News requested details on those infractions from the district but did not get a response before publication deadline.
The board approved Cheryl Caution-Parker as the district’s delegate to the S.C. School Boards Delegate Assembly. Board member Teresa Holmes was named as an alternative.
During the public comment period, the board heard from some parents who expressed concerns about special needs students participating in virtual learning assignments. Those students don’t do well in that type of environment and need face-to-face learning, the board was told.