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School board talks pre-K numbers, readiness
Liberty County School System

The Liberty County Board of Education received news of its pre-kindergarten students on Feb. 25. 

The information came from Dr. Patti Crane, Chief Academic Officer, who gave the school board some numbers to crunch.

Among the information she provided was the following: 

The Liberty County School System has 21 pre-K classrooms. Each classroom must have 22 students to be funded. Less than 19-20 students per class and state funding will be dropped. Out of the 21 classrooms in Liberty County, three are special education classes and one is designated a special needs resource class. 

According to Crane, from the 2019/2020 school year, 368 pre-K students transferred to kindergarten. 

Out of those, 42 were enrolled in an Early Intervention Program (EIP) classroom. The data also showed there are 114 EIP kindergarten students, meaning 72 didn’t attend a Liberty County pre-K class. 

Readiness skills, which include fine motor skills and basic mathematics, were also discussed during the meeting. This is the first year LCSS has monitored pre-K and kindergarten readiness. 

Collected data said 65 percent of the children in LCSS pre-K classes were ready for kindergarten, while only 28 percent of students who were either enrolled in a pre-K class outside of Liberty County or not enrolled in pre-K at all were percent ready. Board Member James Johns Sr. was concerned about the 28 percent, feeling these students didn’t get the education they needed before entering a LCSS kindergarten. 

“That child, the itty bitty 3 or 4 year old, is just getting daycare,” Johns said, “You’re getting daycare, you’re getting a little bit, but you’re not getting what that pre-K center and those teachers are doing at 68 percent.”   

He also inquired where the 28 percent kindergarten students were coming from specifically. Crane stated LCSS currently doesn’t ask parents this information, but they can start.  

Baker suggested the BOE meet with local daycare centers to discuss skill readiness. She conveyed the conversation would go something like this, stating, “This is what we’re seeing but this is where we need the children to be at some point before they get to us in kindergarten.” 

She continued to say that as an “educational institution”, it is the BOE’s responsibility to reach out and discuss how students are being prepared for school. 

A new iPad system update has been released which will not operate on older iPads. This, plus wanting to have more storage on classroom iPads, is the motivation for LCSS purchasing 11,880 new seventh generation 128 GB iPad devices, school officals say. 

Cases for the devices and four year AppleCare+ plans will also be purchased for a total cost of $4,799,697.20. 

Board Vice Chair Carol Guyett questioned if it would be possible for students and parents to purchase older iPads. The idea proposal will be looked into. For now, old iPads are sold to various companies which provide similar services for other school systems. 

The swap is planned this summer. 

Board member Verdell Jones asked how long it’s been since teachers’ MacBooks were replaced. It was reported to be six years. Jones said she has received some complaints about the old computers, and teachers dismayed at having to use outdated technology with limited storage. 

It was reported that while teacher MacBooks are usually replaced every five years, the transition has been delayed due to a priority in updating student iPads. IPads must be replaced regularly to allow IOS updates required for state mandated online testing. 

It was also reported attempts will be made to have MacBook updates added to next year’s budget. 

Aside from student readiness, the BOE was also brought up to speed about LED lighting upgrades. Snelson Golden Middle School, Frank Long Elementary, and Lyman Hall Elementary will be refurbished with LED lighting fixtures. The new lighting will, according to LCSS, save the District 25 percent in material costs. 1,200 LED fixtures will be purchased for Snelson Golden, 975 for Frank Long, and 925 fixtures to be installed at Lyman Hall. The entire project was said to cost $225,860.32 which will be covered by ESPLOST funds.

The BOE approved Baseline Sports to work on the Bradwell Institute and Liberty County High School tracks. 

The renovations will cost $1,086,398 and will be funded by ESPLOST. Renovations will include replacing existing track surfaces, replacing the long/triple jump runways, replacing the sand in the sand pits among other improvements. 

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