Courtesy and respect were back on the table at Monday's meeting of the Marlboro County Board of Education, as the board revisited a character education policy on which it had reached an impasse in July.
At issue was whether the words "please," "thank you," "sir" and "ma'am" should be removed from the policy.
A committee of school district employees has been reviewing all of its policies and making recommendations for amendments on which the board votes from time to time.
Among those was the character education policy. Originally, it read that students, when speaking with school employees on school property or at school events, "will address or respond to the employee with courtesy and respect by using such terms as sir, ma'am, thank you and please."
But the committee proposed deleting the phrase, "by using such terms as sir, ma'am, thank you and please." The board gave first reading approval to the policy change in June, but deadlocked when it came up for second and final reading in July.
At that time, the board tied 4-4, with Jackie Branch, Robert Goff, Barbara Ohanesian and Lucy Parsons opposed to removing the words from the policy, and Janice Bright, Michael Coachman, Nan Fleming and Deborah Peterkin in support of their removal. Valerie McClain was not present.
With no decision made in July, the administration brought the policy back to the board at Monday's meeting, this time reverting back to the former language that included the words.
This time, it passed with six members in favor: Branch, Goff, Ohanesian, Parsons, Coachman and Peterkin. McClain opposed, Fleming abstained, and Bright was not present.
With that decision, the policy will continue to specify that students should address school district employees "with courtesy and respect by using such terms as sir, ma'am, thank you and please."
A number of other policies presented for second reading in July were not controversial, but they were held up because they were lumped together with the character education policy. They also came back before the board Monday, and this time were adopted unanimously.
Yet another policy, which was not part of that group, was the district's promotion and retention policy. It went through first reading in July and came back for second reading Monday. Ohanesian and Peterkin abstained because of concern about some of the requirements.
In other business, the school board:
-heard from Macky Norton, recently retired principal at McColl Elementary/Middle School, who asked the board to reconsider an earlier decision not to purchase a lot adjacent to the school. He said the lot could be used, as it has been in the past, for overflow parking and possibly for re-routing traffic, as well as offering protection for the school property in the future. He asked the board to reconsider their decision at the next meeting.
-heard from Joel Carter of the architectural firm Jumper Carter Sease about a delayed construction project at MCHS. The plan originally had been to build a concession stand/press box/restroom facility for the baseball and softball fields, but bids came in much higher than expected. Carter said his firm is now looking into two alternatives, a pre-engineered building and a "greatly reduced" version of the original plan, and will come back to the board with a recommendation soon.
Carter also reported that his firm is looking at options for the Blenheim sports complex and hopes to have some type of drawings soon. As part of the sports discussion, McClain reminded officials that Clio also needs a sports complex.
-authorized district staff to bring specific information and recommendations back at the September meeting regarding the possible purchase of a new centralized telephone system for the district.
-authorized the issuance and sale of up to $1.5 million in general obligation bonds through the S.C. Association of Governmental Organizations (SCAGO) in order to make the district's annual installment payments on revenue bonds that were issued in 2007 and refinanced in 2010. This is not a new arrangement, but something the district does annually.
-following an executive session discussion, approved 19 staff elections and two resignations.
-authorized district staff to finalize the purchase of 5.92 acres of land, in the amount of $59,200, for a septic drain field for the new Wallace school.