Charleston County school board approves goals for 2015-2016 year

Brad Nettles/Staff Charleston County School District Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait

Reducing the number of high school graduates who need to take remedial college classes was among the top five goals adopted by the Charleston County School Board.

Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait presented the board with a preliminary list of 40 goals at the Sept. 14 meeting. She asked board members, principals and select teachers to review those goals and identify their top 10 priority areas.

On Monday evening, school board members unanimously voted to prioritize a list of 17 goals, culled from the superintendent’s survey, in addition to the remaining 23.

“To be clear, all 40 goals are really important. The priority-rating simply has to do with which do we start on,” Postlewait said. “One of the 40 goals might not have appeared in this priority list, but we’ll come back with a timeline.”

The district’s first priority will be developing a five-year strategic plan by March 1, 2016, with input from the public. The district will also prioritize plans for improving literacy; teacher effectiveness, retention and recruitment; transportation services and academic offerings at rural schools.

Postlewait said her office will develop implementation plans and timelines for those 17 goals by the Oct. 20 board workshop. Plans for achieving the remaining goals will come in November.

“We’ll be very specific,” she said.

Postlewait’s goals are an extension of ex-Superintendent Nancy McGinley’s “Vision 2016,” the district’s lofty strategic plan, which comes to an end this year.

In 2012, the school district launched “Charleston Achieving Excellence: Vision 2016,” a highly ambitious set of student performance goals for the 2015-16 academic year. In the past three years, the district has made some progress improving student scores on the state’s standardized assessment, but not nearly enough to meet the 2016 deadline.

“I’m focused on 40, not 17,” said board member Tom Ducker. “It’s just a matter of timing. We address the first 17 and then we come back and then address the next.”

The superintendent’s original list of 40 goals also includes ensuring that at least 10 percent of each eighth-grade class meets the academic criteria to get into Academic Magnet High School. Admissions into the district’s top-ranked high school have come under scrutiny in the past year over its increasing lack of diversity.

Board member Michael Miller said he was disappointed measures to improve diversity didn’t rise to the district’s priority list.

“I think it’s interesting that there wasn’t enough support among the three entities to have diversity placed on the list,” he said. “Maybe that’s a large reason why we need more diversity.”

Reach Deanna Pan at (843) 937-5764.