GEORGETOWN COUNTY — Currently limited to part-time counselors split between schools, a pair of elementary and middle school representatives proposed to the Georgetown County School District board March 16 that full-time rehabilitative behavioral health services (RBHS) counselors be added to all elementary schools and Waccamaw Middle School for the 2021-22 school year.
Sabrina Goff-Mack, the elementary representative, noted that full-time counselors dedicated to a single campus will aid students as they return to school in the fall.
"RBHS counselors would provide services for all students, not just those who qualify for special services, and with the increased need during this time of the pandemic with social and emotional learning, this could be beneficial for all students," said Goff-Mack, adding that RBHS counselors will provide services and counseling for students who have emotional or behavioral needs.
This request came alongside others as Goff-Mack and representatives from the middle and high schools presented budget requests to the GCSD board at its bi-weekly meeting.
The board also approved the 2021-22 school year calendar, which doubled the amount of professional development days for teachers from this year’s schedule, with one every month except for May. There are five professional development days and five student half-days for professional development set aside.
Patti Hammel, a board member and former director of professional development for the district, said these added days will alleviate stress for teachers who often have to squeeze professional development time in after school or during planning periods.
The things they accomplish on these days will directly come back to helping students, Hammel said.
"(Teachers) are going to have those professional learning times that are going to be unencumbered and not when they're dead tired," Hammel said.
Students will also start school August 18, about three weeks earlier than last year, and get out for summer break June 3.
The GCSD board also heard a pitch for an additional custodian position at each middle and high school, with high school representative, Adam Gorge, noting that extra help is needed not only for COVID-19 cleaning, but also because several of the high schools have added square footage to their campuses recently.
"The one additional person would definitely help in making sure that we are cleaning adequately for our students and our staff to keep them safe," Gorge said.
GCSD will hold departmental budget presentations in April before the board holds a public hearing for the 2021-22 budget on June 1. The budget will then be finalized in a public hearing before June 30.