COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – The first bell will soon ring for the nearly 5,000 students in Colleton County as they head back to class for the 2023-24 school year.
They will do so with an interim superintendent at the helm. New programs, safety, and community support also remain a top priority.
“It’s going to be an awesome year in Colleton County, an awesome year,” said interim superintendent Jessica Williams. “We’re so excited about the beginning of the school year, which is a little earlier than when we usually start, but we are ready. Our schools are rapidly preparing for students to enter the doors and greet them with a smile and let them know we’re so happy to have them back for a new year.”
The Colleton County School District (CCSD) has 4,900 students in nine schools. They are also operating on a modified calendar this year.
“As of right now, we do have a modified calendar because the state says you start school no earlier than the third Monday in August. So, our calendar is considered modified. It’s not a true modified calendar- a true modified calendar (has) more breaks during the school year, so you can bring kids in for intervention. As of right now, the board has not decided to move forward with a true modified calendar,” said Williams.
The district will welcome new programs this year along with several renovation projects that are currently in the works.
“We are offering a new business course at Colleton County Middle School. We are expanding the transportation department and expanding the robotics program at the middle school, so we have building projects underway to make sure all of that is done for our students,” Williams said. “We have barbering and nail tech that we will be offering to our students at TCTC. It gives them the opportunity to learn the skills to be barbers and nail techs, so we’re excited about that coming to our school district. That will not start day one, because we’re still making preparations, building projects to make those things happen, but we are very happy about that.”
Colleton County School District has 830 employees and 295 teachers, the largest employer in the county.
Williams said the district is still working to fill teacher vacancies and they are asking retired teachers to help.
“We have employed a company that is helping us with those shortages through virtual teachers. We also have facilitators or monitors who will be in those classrooms to make sure students are on task with learning,” Williams explained.
Also, like districts across the country, bus driver vacancies are a big concern. “Although we are a few bus drivers short, all of our routes will be covered on the first day of school,” said Williams.
And school safety remains a top priority. “We don’t have the clear bag policy now because we have the scanners. We have the metal detectors, so the school board voted to allow regular book bags.”
Williams says she is thankful for partnerships with community organizations, but they always need more volunteers in schools. She says, “Come in, volunteer to assist teachers, help in the front office, wherever you see fit. We need our community to know we are a unified force and we’re here to work together for our students.”
Colleton County has seen several changes in leadership in recent years but that shouldn’t serve as a distraction to the learning process. “We’re moving forward. We care and love our students. We love our children, and we want the very best for our children. There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child, so it takes us educators, it takes parents, it takes community members, it takes everybody working together as a unified force to make sure we in Colleton are providing the best for our children, and I’m very excited about that,” said Williams.
With community and business partners, Colleton County School District will have their Back to School Bash called “All for Colleton” at the Colleton County Middle School track on August 5th from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. They will have school supplies, giveaways, food, and music.
Students return to the classroom on Monday, August 7.