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July 2 update: Superintendent's message on reopening schools

Our progress update for the week of June 29-July 2, as Lexington Two continues work on plans for re-entry to schools this fall. Find a report given to the Board of Trustees on reopening considerations, plus other sources we're using for input
Report on reopening schools

School volunteer programs on hold

Lexington Two has placed a temporary hold on its volunteer programs as the 2020-21 school year begins, amid coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns
Announcement about volunteers

21 students earn Seal of Biliteracy

The award from the SC Department of Education recognizes students who have attained proficiency in English and another language by graduation
Seal

64 high school students named AP Scholars

The Advanced Placement (AP) Program recognizes students who have demonstrated outstanding college-level achievement through their performance on multiple AP exams
AP Scholar logo
Superintendent Dr. William B. James Jr.

Superintendent's Message

In more than 40 years in education, I have never seen a school year like the one we just completed. 
 
We are spending the summer months working on a plan to safely reopen schools this August, amid the changing conditions of COVID-19. We are gathering feedback from a number of sources, including the AccelerateED task force report, surveys of our Lexington Two families and employees, SC Department of Education, CDC, DHEC and more. We plan to announce our reopening plan by mid-July. Stay tuned for details.
 
While our focus is on the new school year ahead, there is much to be proud of from the unprecedented 2019-20 school year -- including keeping the learning going with eLearning and continuing to provide free breakfast/lunch meals to students. From mid-March through late June, we have distributed 171,000-plus meals. We are continuing to serve through the summer months, too.
 
Here are a few other accomplishments.
 
Lexington Two ranks among the top 10 SC public school districts earning the highest average scores on the SAT college-entrance exam. Lexington Two’s Class of 2019 test-takers outperformed state and national averages. The average SAT score for Lexington Two is 1051 -- 30 points higher than the South Carolina average of 1021 and 12 points higher than the national average of 1039, the data shows. Our Class of 2019 ACT test-takers also posted year-over-year gains. The Class of 2019's roughly 450 grads earned a District record of  $17.4 million-plus in college scholarships. 
 
Lexington Two is the first area school district to partner with Midlands Tech on the career pathways program. Under this agreement, Midlands Tech will award dual enrollment or exemption credit for specified courses taken by our high school students pursuing academic and/or career pathways in several areas, among them engineering technologies, health care, information technology, and a number of careers in industrial and building fields. These students will be able to earn their academic credentials sooner and move into the workforce quickly. Lexington Two was also the first area district to partner with Midlands Tech on the Early College program, which allows students to earn college credit — and potentially an Associate Degree — during the regular high school day.  

Four Lexington Two schools have earned Palmetto Silver Awards in the most recently released awards. Busbee Creative Arts Academy earned a Palmetto Silver Award in the 2018-19 year, while Fulmer Middle, PIneview Elementary (now Riverbank Elementary) and Saluda River Academy for the Arts earned Palmetto Silver Awards for 2017-18.  The awards program was established by the Education Accountability Act of 1998 “to recognize and reward schools for academic achievement and for closing the achievement gap."
 
Other news of note: The District introduced a new grading system for our youngest learners, kindergarten through second grade, that provides parents a more detailed look at their child’s areas of mastery and improvement; implemented a new honors graduation program for high schoolers; and continued work on the final phase of our $225 million school construction program, approved by voters in 2014, with renovations  continuing at our two high schools and initial work under way on plans for our new performing arts center in Cayce.
 
Our Board's budget plan for 2019-20 allowed us to focus not only on important programs and resources for our students but to support priorities that our teachers have advocated for. Among them:
    -- Reducing classroom sizes, to meet or exceed state guidelines, with averages we’ve set at 20-1 in elementary school,  24-1 in middle school, and 22-1 in high school core content classes.
    -- Hiring mental health counselors to support school safety and meet the emotional health needs of our students.
    -- Extending the contracts of assistant principals to a full year, to strengthen school-level leadership and mentorship.
 
We hope you enjoy the summer. Stay tuned for information in the weeks ahead as we continue to shape plans for a safe reopening of Lexington Two schools for the 2020-21 academic year.
 
Dr. William B. James Jr.
Superintendent

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