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South Pointe High wins Riley Award for School Improvement Council Excellence

SPHS Riley Award winner The School Improvement Council (SIC) of South Pointe High School in Rock Hill Schools has been named the recipient of the 2017 Dick and Tunky Riley Award for School Improvement Council Excellence.

The award was presented Saturday afternoon by former US Education Secretary and SC Governor Richard W. Riley during the SC School Improvement Council (SC-SIC) Annual Meeting at the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia.

The annual Riley Award for SIC Excellence was created in 2002 to recognize the significant contributions made to public education by the nearly 14,000 School Improvement Council members who volunteer in every public school in the state. The award is named in honor of Secretary Riley and his late wife, and recognizes the couple’s longstanding commitment to quality public education.

“The South Pointe High SIC has done wonderful work in the past year that is well-deserving of this statewide recognition,” said SC-SIC Board of Trustees Chair Amelia B. McKie. “When parents, educators, students, and community members work together as a School Improvement Council to identify needs and take proactive steps to meet them, it does have significant, positive, and lasting impact for our schools, our students, their families, and our communities.”

Presented with Honorable Mentions for their work last school year were: Bluffton Middle SIC (Beaufort County School District); Harbison-West Elementary SIC (District Five of Lexington & Richland Counties); South Florence High SIC (Florence Public School District One); and St. James Elementary SIC (Horry County Schools) 
 
Part of the Center for Education Partnerships within the University of South Carolina College of Education, the SC School Improvement Council (SC-SIC) was established in state law 40 years ago to provide the member training, technical assistance, statutory accountability, and other operational resources necessary for the continued success of the community-based SICs in each of the state’s 1,110-plus K-12 public schools. More information on SC-SIC’s programmatic efforts can be found online at http://sic.sc.gov.
 
More about South Pointe SIC:
This SIC was concerned that its school was developing an undeserved reputation as the high school that students in its district didn't want to attend. After reviewing data on all three of the district's high schools showing that South Pointe compared well and in fact excelled in many areas, the SIC made the following requests to its School Board: adjust attendance zones to even out student populations; analyze and fund the actual cost of operating student activities at the high schools; reduce the class size required to offer certain advanced classes; review the district's elective transfer policy; zero out existing deficits in student activity funds; and form an "Equity Committee" to foster equity among the district's high schools. The district's initial response was to better enforce elective transfer policies, eliminate half of the school's $185,000 activity deficit, and lower the number of students needed for some advanced courses. Progress on other issues required additional sustained effort by the SIC. The Board eventually granted all three high schools an increase of $20,000 for band and athletics with an additional $15,000 to South Pointe for transportation costs, and created an Equity Committee composed of representatives from the three high schools. The Committee developed a shared definition of the elements of equity: similar curricular offerings; similar co-curricular and extra-curricular offerings; autonomy; comparable, well-maintained facilities; demographic balance; consistent accounting practices; and similar access to funding. It then developed recommendations, broken down by these elements, including a request for a complete analysis of the three schools' attendance zones. Work on these recommendations is ongoing. The SIC also began to market its school more intentionally, organizing events for eighth graders to learn about their new school and meet future classmates, and publicizing school achievements in traditional and social media. The SIC reports that the 2016-17 registered freshman class is the largest in the last five years.



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