New school year begins with changes in Jasper County - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

New school year begins with changes in Jasper County

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
JASPER CO., SC (WTOC) -

Summer is officially over for our kids over in the Lowcountry.

From new bell schedules, bus routes and new administrators there are quite a few changes taking place.

Donald Andrews, the new superintendent, comes from Tennessee with over 20 years of experience and his main focus this year is the classroom.

For starters, thanks to a new state mandate students will be getting an extra 15 minutes of learning a day to strengthen reading and writing skills.

The superintendent says with a graduation rate of only 74 percent, the district needs to make sure students are reading on their grade level. At least two of the four schools here received F’s on their report cards in recent years.

One area the new superintendent wants to change, and the school board is already working towards that goal.

To lower the class size from one to 24 in those literacy grades to one to 20, which means we added 10 additional teachers and then our curriculum staff came back to me and wanted to add some paraprofessionals. So we added five of those for those students who are a little further behind in reference to the literacy piece as well,” said Jasper County Superintendent Donald Andrews.

Because of that extra 15 minutes, elementary students will now get out at 2:45 p.m. and high schoolers and middle schoolers at 3 p.m.

"With the additional 15 minutes, we have additional time where we can focus on literacy and help to improve our kids’ academics. Anytime we can put in the day that will help academics,
as far as all boys and girls being on the level that's our push, we want to make sure our kids are reading on grade level so they can be successful. So all around putting our kids first, putting our focus on them in the classroom, we should see improvement in their academic level,” said Hardeeville Elementary Principal Wanda McAllister.

Another area the superintendent wants to see enhancement is in parent involvement, he says it’s important for the community and schools to work together to help our children meet their educational goals.

The superintendent says he wants all students in the third grade to be reading on their level by time school finishes. He says data shows that a lot of students who don't graduate high school fall behind in those early grades.

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