BOARD OF DIRECTORS
SOUTH CAROLINA WHITMORE SCHOOL
510 Lexington Avenue
Chapin, SC 29036
September 18, 2014
The meeting was called to order by Chairman Hitch at 9:30 am
Dr. Terry Hitch, Chair; William Robinson, Secretary; Chris, McClure, Treasurer; Pamela Phillips, Ann Brown. Additionally Ellen Ray, Principal; John Loveday, Assistant Principal; Michelle Bishop, Compliance Coordinator; and Samuel Mokeba, Attorney.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of June 7, 2014 were presented. Motion to approve minutes: Pam Phillips; 2nd Chris McClure. Minutes approved by unanimous vote.
BUDGET UPDATE and REVIEW
Bill Moser provided a budget update. Adjustment was made to the student ADM from 295 to 325, based on current enrollment and growth projections. This results in a revenue increase of approx. $135,000. Also posted was $33,000 for At-Risk funds. Salary adjustments were made based on student count. Curriculum Development, expense was increased based on student count.
A new line item was added for Repairs and Maintenance due to the lighting damage, but this expense is expected to be offset by insurance. Adjusted fund balance is 764K in bank at end of year.
Ellen presented balance sheet for fiscal year 2014. Bill Moser reviewed the balance sheet and explained that the books must now be maintained on an accrual basis, instead of the previous cash basis. This effects when debits/credits are posted. Total net position was $1,120,849 for 2014 fiscal year.
Terry received a call from the audit team, with a query of indications of fraud. Terry said absolutely not. The auditors speak to Ellen almost on a weekly basis as we get closer to the audit deadline of November 1, 2014. Bill Moser says they have been in their offices for almost 3 weeks.
Motion by Chris McClure for acceptance of budget update, 2nd Bill Robinson. Approved by unanimous vote.
Samuel Mokeba (school attorney) presented a concern regarding Stephanie Mitchell making disparaging statements to staff. A cease and desist letter was sent certified mail and the school has not heard from Ms. Mitchell since. This is not a unique situation. Has seen this before. Testing violations seem to be a common thread, as well as violation of contract.
The second concern is with Penny DeVore, who was terminated for improper grievance procedure. Ms. DeVore filed for unemployment making false statements regarding her termination. The school had to respond to the allegations, in order to document the false statements in the event that Ms. DeVore decides to take further actions regarding her unemployment. Again, this is not a unique situation. There is a possibility for a hearing, as Ellen said the Department of Employment has denied Ms. DeVore’s application for unemployment.
Mr. Robinsons asked if there is anything we can we do, moving forward, to prevent this from happening again. Mr. Mokeba explained that this happens all the time, and there is nothing we can do to prevent it.
Dr. Hitch commented that we have procedures in place to protect us. Dr. Hitch said she is satisfied with the process.
FINANCE COMMITTEE UPDATE
Chris McClure reported that the school’s cash in the checking account exceeds the FDIC insured amount. In order to be ensure FDIC protection, the school will have to make some adjustments to accounts. The Finance Committee met and made a recommendation to purchase another CD immediately, and evaluate the cash in hand again in November for an additional DC purchase.
Option: Another CD for 100K term 1 year. This would continue to roll for another year unless needed. In June, 2014, a 6 month CD was purchased. This would establish maturing CDs each 90 days. The goal will be to have maturing CDs every 60 days in the future. Mr. McClure explained that the balances reflected on statements are if CD were pulled without waiting for maturity. This is the only viable option for safe, conservative money management. The current rate is .55% for a CD purchased now. The last CD was purchased at a rate of .30%.
Chris McClure made motion to purchase, 2nd Ann Brown. Vote to approve unanimous. Will purchase CD now and evaluate for additional purchase in October/November.
TESITNG AND GRADUATION
EOC test scores all increased except for Biology. However, that is misleading since the number of students taking the test doubled. We also tripled the number of students completing Algebra. Scores are comparable to other virtual scores.
Mr. Robinson asked why the US History test was so difficult. Mr. Loveday reviewed that the test is very difficult and answer choices are made to be “plausible to the uninformed.” The school has now used the SDE offered support document to revamp the history course, with a focus on what students need to know and includes EOC practice quizzes. The school is optimistic that US History EOC test scores will improve this year. Using this new approach as a model, the school will revamp the other EOC courses; English 1, Algebra 1 and Biology.
HSAP: improved Math and ELA pass rate with 100% participation. The HSAP is no longer required and a replacement examination has not been announced yet.
A new required examination, WorkKeys, will be given in the spring.
The graduation rate has improved yearly with a grad rate of 29.5% in 2014. Many of our students come to us with no mathematical possibility of graduating on time due to due to being behind in earned credits. With the realistic expectations of the nature of our at-risk student body, this is not a bad graduation rate, and is at par with other virtual schools.
We are now more unique than ever. We are now the only SC based virtual high school in the state. We are the only mastery based virtual school and the only virtual school that targets “at-risk” students. We prioritize recruitment and retention of students.
SCPCSD is now the 14th largest district in the state with enrollment projections that will likely make it the 10th largest in the state in the next 5 years.
John also presented the Facebook page and reviewed the marketing campaign via Facebook.
Ellen: The school currently has 325 active students and an ADM of 299. The original 2015 Budget was based on 295 ADM and the Budget has been updated to reflect current enrollment projections. Twenty new students have completed enrollment process. There are 70 in the queue. Approximately half of those will matriculate.
Ms. Phillips asked if we will reach capacity enrollment. When our teachers are fully enrolled, new enrollment registrations will be placed on a waiting list until space is available. We anticipate reaching capacity enrollment before December.
The focus this year is to enroll, engage and retain students. We have implemented several strategies to retain. Students and parents are required to attend a live Orientation event. We have held orientations throughout the state in August, and hold orientations every Wednesday in the Chapin office for newly enrolling students. This has resulted in more engaged students. We also have a required course for all new students, Cyber 101, with a focus on becoming a successful virtual student. Daily attendance letters are sent to parents. Teachers are supporting students by holding Live Lessons and Office Hours so students can work live with their teachers.
Chris McClure’s idea of allowing students to enroll on a trial basis was implemented during the summer months. Students were allowed to register and begin courses in the summer, without official enrollment. We have had a 50% success retention rate with those students.
STAFFING UPDATE: We have contracted with 3 teachers for services; Spanish, Math, and Science. As enrollment increases, we hope to make them full time employees. Based on enrollment, we will probably offer the Spanish teacher a full time position in October.
We have hired a full-time PowerSchool Data Entry Specialist, and additional School Counselor, and an Executive Assistant.
Next Board meeting in December. No other new business.
Chris McClure motion to adjourn, Bill Robinson 2nd. Unanimous vote to adjourn.