Dorchester Dist. Two adds AI referendum survey, teacher retention committee – Live 5 News WCSC

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DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) – An artificial intelligence survey on the bond referendum and a new retention committee are the latest initiatives a Dorchester County school district is doing to get the county educated and to boost teacher morale.

For Dorchester School District Two to keep the teachers they already have and to guarantee the space to put them all, district officials say folks need to vote on the bond referendum on May 14.

School board member Justin Farnsworth says the time is now, more than ever, to get educated on why adding more capital projects is necessary to get ahead and catch up with the ongoing growth.

“Our revenue per student total is roughly $12,000-$13,000 per student,” Farnsworth said. “You look over in Charleston County – they’re $22,000-$23,000 per student.”

If this vote is approved on May 14, it will allow the district to use $200 million for safety and security improvements, wing additions to current schools and building new schools over the next few years without a tax increase.

A new survey rates voter’s thoughts on this through AI technology.

“It looks for common themes,” Superintendent Dr. Shane Robbins said. “It looks for disagreements amongst the themes. The most common words being used. You know, one of them is ‘taxes.’ So far, we’re seeing ‘How is this going to affect my taxes?’ And the longevity of the plan. ‘How long is the plan going to last?’ So, it allows us to see, you know, those commonalities.”

The school board has also approved Robbins to start a teacher and staff recruitment and retention task force filled with different community stakeholders. Farnsworth says positions like special needs, math and science are just a few of the hardest to recruit.

“I don’t like to make excuses when I look at those things,” Robbins said. “But the challenge for us is we are the fifth lowest funded school district in the state of South Carolina. So, that means we have to stretch a penny into a dollar.”

Robbins says there are four ways they’re alleviating overcrowding:

  • Rezone, which they have already done.
  • Bring in learning cottages, which takes 12 months. Robbins adds they’ve already begun ordering these for Sandhill Elementary, the largest elementary school in the district.
  • Brick-and-mortar additions, such as adding wings to the schools, which take 12 to 18 months
  • Building new facilities, which takes about 36 months. Based on the timeline, they plan to add two PK-5 schools at The Ponds property and Yerby Tract or Watson Hill by 2027.

Both Robbins and Farnsworth say the average person who lives in the district, regardless of whether or not they’re a parent, should pay attention.

“The education that we provide is the foundation of our community,” Farnsworth said. “It shows people what we believe in… Whatever that looks like, the community we live in is based on our education system. So, I think everybody has a stake in it.”

For all the latest information on the Dorchester School District Two referendum, click here.

Anyone who lives in the school district is encouraged to fill out and read the AI survey, which Robbins says should remain open for the next three weeks.

This post was originally published on this site

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