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Reputation of excellence continues for schools

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By Sheila Mitchell

Anderson County Schools has continued to have a reputation of being an excellent school system.
As superintendent of Anderson County schools, I am very proud of the staff, parents, community and board of education that have all worked together to create the reputation we have earned.
The Anderson County Board of Education’s number one priority is to ensure that all students are provided a high quality education in a positive, safe learning environment. We continue to be able to provide quality, effective teachers and staff that care about their students.
Each school has been fortunate to have additional staff members to help support the individual needs of students.  Each of these positions has provided services for our students in a variety of ways such as additional reading and math intervention programs and special education services.
The students served in these programs have shown gains on the MAP assessment, KCCT assessments and overall grade level performance.
These highly structured programs track student data that is monitored weekly. It allows the teachers to make instructional decisions that best benefit the individual student.
As a school district, we feel the responsibility of educating kindergarten students in a full day program rather than the half day state funded program. The benefits of providing a high quality full day program give our students a great start in their educational experience. We have been fortunate to have these positions provided through a variety of funding sources such as federal programs, state grants, stabilization funds, ARRA funds and edujobs funds.
The staffing allocations for each school vary from year to year depending on enrollment, student needs and overall school needs. Each school is staffed through a variety of resources including general fund, federal programs, state grants and most recently ARRA funds, stabilization funds and edujob funds.
Anderson County Schools has been privileged to have benefited from the additional funds over the last few years.
Our high teacher retention rate shows the positive, effective culture and climate of our schools and district and is one of the reasons why our schools are so successful. Each and every staff member is an integral part of the function of the school and the district.  Our district team works very hard to ensure we never lose sight of our focus, to ensure students are safe, prepare for a competitive future and become responsible citizens.
Unfortunately, revenue has declined based on tough decisions made by legislators. Federal, state and local revenue has declined and is projected to decline for the 2011-2012 school year. During the current 2010-2011 school year, we have under gone mid-year cuts, adjusted the budget and have made reductions in every school and every department.
Due to these cuts and the additional cuts that are projected to continue to trickle down from the federal and state decisions, Anderson County schools will have to make additional reductions in staffing and operations that were previously paid from federal and state funds.
We hope to absorb most of these positions through attrition.
Even though we are experiencing tough economic times along with the state and federal systems, Anderson County Schools will continue to focus on providing an excellent education to students.
We will continue to use all available resources to work to meet the individual needs of students. The staff of Anderson County schools along with the Anderson County Board of Education is committed to ensure that students are college and/or career ready and become successful citizens.
In order to do that we need to guarantee they get any additional services necessary to ensure they are progressing academically.
Anderson County School district continues to have an excellent reputation. We pride ourselves on working for students.
Our strong team of educators and staff members works daily to make sure their individual needs are met. We continue to work to improve as we know excellence keeps moving.
We appreciate the support of the parents and community members that help make us successful.

Sheila Mitchell is superintendent of Anderson County Schools.