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Sumter School District gives details of 1st virtual meeting, consolidates student meal distribution

BY BRUCE MILLS bruce@theitem.com
Posted 4/1/20

Sumter School District's Board of Trustees will have its first-ever virtual board meeting Monday, and many may wonder just how it's going to work, given social distancing orders and a public hearing on the agenda.

A district spokeswoman addressed …

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Sumter School District gives details of 1st virtual meeting, consolidates student meal distribution

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Sumter School District's Board of Trustees will have its first-ever virtual board meeting Monday, and many may wonder just how it's going to work, given social distancing orders and a public hearing on the agenda. A district spokeswoman addressed various issues Tuesday in a phone conversation with The Sumter Item. A first - and obvious - question is where will the nine board members actually be at the virtual meeting that is not open to the public in compliance with recent public health orders because of the spread of the coronavirus? According to Shelly Galloway, the district's executive director of communication and community engagement, they will actually be spread throughout the board room at the district office to practice social distancing and at least 6 feet of separation. (Normally, they sit right next to one another in a U-shaped table format.) A second question - and perhaps most important - is given the public hearing on BRAG Literacy STRrEAM Institute's charter school application, how will public comments be handled during that agenda item because the meeting is closed? The way this will work is a two-step process, Galloway said. First, anyone wishing to speak on BRAG institute's charter application during the 6 p.m. meeting Monday must register first by Friday afternoon for a live phone call-in Monday night to the board. To register to speak on the charter that is seeking sponsorship through the district, individuals must email district Administrative Manager Amy Hansen, amy.hansen@sumterschools.net, or call her at (803) 469-6900, extension 100, by 6 p.m. Friday. Hansen will provide the necessary telephone call-in details and information for Monday night to members of the public when they contact her. Because the meeting is closed to the public, all people wishing to attend virtually may do so via YouTube Sumter School District Board Meetings and Sumter School District's Facebook page, @SumterSCSchools. The district has been livestreaming board meetings on YouTube for public viewing since last year. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. MORE ON BRAG INSTITUTE CHARTER BRAG Literacy STRrEAM Institute, led by Anderson County resident Gary Burgess, is one of three locally proposed charters that submitted applications in this year's cycle, to open in fall 2021, and the only one to seek sponsorship through the district. The other two proposed charters for Sumter County - New Journey Institute and Sumter STEAM Charter School - are seeking sponsorship through other educational entities. According to the state Department of Education, each sponsor must have a board vote on its proposed charter by May 1, and the trustees are expected to vote near the conclusion of Monday's meeting. BRAG would begin as a pre-kindergarten- to third-grade school and add a grade each subsequent year through eighth grade, Burgess previously said. Both New Journey and Sumter STEAM have also said they will initially pursue an early elementary school emphasis. Board votes by those respective sponsors - the state Public Charter School District and the Charter Institute at Erskine - would also be during April. DISTRICT CONSOLIDATES MEAL DISTRIBUTION BEGINNING THURSDAY Sumter School District announced more changes Tuesday to its meal distribution plan for all students that will become effective Thursday. A district spokeswoman distributed an informational flyer to The Sumter Item on the changes, which consolidate meal distribution and deliveries and encourage students to bring extra bags when necessary to carry multiple meals on appropriate days. First, all meals for Thursday and Friday of this week will be distributed on Thursday at the four district food hubs (same as before and listed in box) from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., or at one of the bus distribution sites (listed in box). No meals will be distributed Friday. Students are advised to bring extra bags to carry multiple meals, and families are to ensure meals are properly stored and refrigerated. Similarly, all meals for Monday, April 6, through Wednesday, April 8, will be distributed Monday at the food hubs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or at one of the bus distribution sites (listed in box). No meals will be distributed on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. Finally, all meals for Thursday, April 9; Friday, April 10; and also the week of April 13-17 will be distributed from the four food hubs only from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 9. The district's spring break is April 10-17. Again, the district encourages students to bring extra bags to carry multiple meals and follow food safety procedures.