WILLIAMSBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – As we begin a new school year, Count on 2’s Octavia Mitchell sat down one on one with the leaders of our local school districts. Today, we’re in Williamsburg county, where some teachers will have a four day work week.
Superintendent Dr. Rose Wilder is preparing to begin her second year as leader of Williamsburg County School District. The State Department of Education brought her in when they took control of the district last year and declared a state of emergency, due to academic and financial concerns. “This is a new Williamsburg County School District,” says Dr. Wilder. While they have seen academic bright spots, work continues to make improvements. Dr. Wilder says the financial and noncompliance issues with their special needs program have been addressed. “When it comes to finance, I’m pleased to say we are no longer designated as a district of fiscal caution, which means there were some problems in the area. Not that any embezzlement was going on, just that we need to make certain we were doing what we needed to do with the money, and the money is being appropriated in the right areas.”
A big change this year to help recruit and retain teachers, the State Department of Education approved a pilot program, a four day work week for certified elementary and middle school core subject teachers in the district. “Students will attend school five days, but our teachers will actually work four days. Some teachers may have a Monday off, some may have a Friday off, and some principals have been very creative in that some teachers may have Midday off. The schools are being given the flexibility to do what’s best for that respective school.”
Leaders at Gardner Elementary in Kingstree have their plan in place. School counselor Jenna Mickle says, “All certified staff will work Monday through Thursday and Friday will be enrichment day for the kids. They will still come Monday through Friday, but all non certified staff will be here Monday through Friday. It will be the teacher assistants, school counselors, admin, people like that will be working Friday. Teachers say they are excited about the four day work week. Fourth-grade teacher Surena Smith says, “I am elated about the changes. I trust the district, and I’m looking forward to everything that’s about to take place. I know they have the children’s best interest at heart. I’m just excited, and I’m just ready for this brand new school year.”
Dr. Wilder says she is optimistic progress will continue this new school year. “I feel good about this upcoming year, I really do. We’re going to continue some of the things we started this past year, especially the Leader in Me program, I’m excited about that.”
The district also offered new teachers signing bonuses. Thursday morning, WCSD will host a district wide assembly.