It is an exciting time to be a part of the McDuffie County School System! We are indeed proud to welcome you and your family back to school. The 2010-2011 school year promises to be one of the most exciting yet. While we have faced challenges never before seen, we have survived and we will continue to excel. Our local budget has been reduced by nearly 3 million dollars, yet we have continued to raise our test scores and graduation rate to heights never before obtained. We have faced critical times, and we no doubt will continue to do so. Together, we have found creative ways to accommodate the shortfall in funding without adversely affecting our students. We have adjusted our calendar to reflect 170 instructional days instead of the typical 180. We have done this without reducing the total number of instructional minutes by extending each day slightly. We have reduced every employee's compensation somewhat in an effort to resonate equality. We have eliminated several key positions by consolidating responsibilities and duties. We have consolidated not only key positions, but also our schools. I urge us all to look at this as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. We will continue to look for ways to save money while serving our students with an excellent educational experience.
Schools are much more than a set of performance data obtained from a standardized test on a given day. Schools are much more than merely buildings. Schools are about the people that live, breath, grow, communicate, learn, befriend, share, develop, and inhabit those buildings. Schools are about the students, the parents, the teachers, all of the individuals. In essence, schools are comprised of the people and those people are the core fabric that everything else is built upon. Our greatest asset remains imbedded within our human resources. People make our system great, not bricks and mortar. McDuffie County is fortunate to have some of the finest educators and support personnel available. It continues to be critical that those individuals are supported by our stakeholders and the community. In doing so, we can all enjoy many accomplishments by serving our most valuable resources -- our children. McDuffie County can now boast about a graduation rate that exceeds 85 percent!
One change that we have implemented for the upcoming year involves our registration procedures. Every parent will now have to prove their residency each and every year. This should be absolutely a nonissue for those who live in McDuffie County. People who live outside the county and transport their children to and from school each day will no longer be allowed to do so. Individuals who submit an affidavit must also submit a valid McDuffie County driver's license AND McDuffie County vehicle registration and ad valorem receipt. Again, this will not be an issue for our McDuffie County residents. Nonresidents will need to attend school in the county in which they live.
Thank you so much to our local "Partners For Success" organization for collecting book bags and school supplies for over 200 children in need. The "Pencils for Partners" program was a huge success benefiting students whose families could not afford the necessary school supplies.
While our teachers returned to work Monday, Aug. 16, and open house was Tuesday, our students begin school today. Critical information was given during open house such as how to access students' grades from home computers; class schedules; and health care insurance available to uninsured students. Please remember grades 6 through 8 are now housed at the Thomson-McDuffie Middle School on White Oak Rd across from Thomson High School. Norris Elementary students are now housed at the Main St. school across from the Brickyard. And please plan to attend the opening HOME football game against Washington Wilkes on Friday, August 27 at 7:30 p.m.
Cheryl and I have been overwhelmed by the heartfelt welcome the community has extended to us. We truly feel like we have found a home in McDuffie County. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of this. GO DOGS!!!