The end of the 2019-20 school year is fast approaching, we are excited about what we've accomplished so far.
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 one of 15 Districts statewide selected to participate in the eLearning pilot program. Our first eLearning weather makeup day last fall was a success.
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 so far this school year: The District has 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; more than 220 Lexington Two students qualified for the Duke TIP 4th-6th Grade Talent Search; and we're in 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.
Our Board's budget plan for 2019-20 is allowing 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.
-- Hiring middle school and high school curriculum specialists as academic resources for teachers.
-- Extending the contracts of assistant principals to a full year, to strengthen school-level leadership and mentorship.
-- New funding to support non-revenue high school athletics; books and learning materials for our elementary and middle school media centers; and the hire of an adaptive PE teacher and purchase of equipment to serve all the district’s special needs students.
Our priority is the success of each and every student in a safe learning environment. We look forward to a strong finish to the 2019-20 school year.
Dr. William B. James Jr.