By Al Dozier

Students who were reassigned to other schools because of the enrollment freeze at Chapin Elementary and Lake Murray Elementary will have an opportunity to reapply to those schools.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the District 5 School Board agreed with a recommendation from the administration to allow those students to participate in an optional lottery selection process to be eligible for the reassignment as some seats become available.

The opportunity will only be provided to students currently reassigned to other schools due to Phase I and Phase II of the enrollment freeze, which were implemented January 22, 2018, and January 22, 2019. Some 165 students will be eligible. District officials are uncertain how many new vacancies will become available.

The district has monitored enrollment throughout the school year and has been able to identify a limited number of available seats for the upcoming year, according to Michael Harris, chief planning and administration officer.

 “If parents are not interested in participating in the lottery, no action is required and their child will remain in the school they currently attend.”

Students who want to seek the reassignments can submit applications beginning June 3 and continuing several days.

In a public statement issued by the district, Superintendent Christina Melton said: “We want to remind our community that the enrollment freeze is a temporary solution to overcrowding, while we continue to work towards building a new school in the Chapin area. We want to be as family-friendly and student-centered as possible, and we feel the lottery allows us to do that.”

In other action the board gave second reading approval to a $195,794,553 budget for the 2019-2020 School Year, a 3.75 percent increase over the previous year’s budget. The district is not seeking a millage increase to fund the budget.

  Increases include more allocations for resource officers and mental health specialists. Teachers will get a 4 percent raise, plus step increases. The state has increased the starting salaries for teachers from $32,000 to $35,000 a year.

The board discussed the different maturity schedules for general obligation bonds: three, five and ten-year time frames. Board members decided the best savings for taxpayers would be to pay them off in three years.

The board gave first reading approval to a new board policy providing for “Safety Drills” at the district’s schools, which would provide training for students during emergency situations such as fire and severe weather situations. The drills included a new drill exercise entitled “Active Shooter/Intruder Drills,” which prompted some discussion by board members.

The district will conduct at least two such drills each school year that will be conducted in accordance with guidelines developed by the State Department of Education and the S.C. Law Enforcement Division (SLED). The program will provide all personnel with security training.

District officials said the drill is a nationally approved program. The community will receive advance notice and should not be alarmed by the drills.

The board also approved a policy providing release time for students who want to participate in a local Religious Instruction program.

Chapin’s Spring Hill High School was featured in the School Board Spotlight for winning the Palmetto Finest Award.

Spring Hill High School is a Career Pathways Magnet offering academics to students in a variety of career areas.Students engage in highly technological, real-world application in core subjects, enhancing college and career readiness. The school is ranked in the top 100 schools in the nation.

Spring Hill Principal Michael Loftin was named the 2019 South Carolina Secondary Level Principal of the Year by TheBestSchools.org.

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