The explosive growth in Fort Mill has led the school district to end liaison groups that represented parents and students from every school.
Instead, the district is creating a new “Kitchen Cabinet” group that will consist of parents from each school level, business leaders and community members, according to Communications Officer Joe Burke.
“The original model was designed in the 1980s when our district was comprised of four schools and approximately 2,000-2,500 students,” Burke said by email. “As our growth has exploded, the individual liaison groups have increased in size along with the student population. With the addition of the third high school this year and three more schools slated to open in the coming years, the administration decided to restructure the liaison groups to create a more efficient and productive group that represents all stakeholders in the district.”
The “Kitchen Cabinet” group was created after researching practices from other districts, and Superintendent Chuck Epps is still working on the formation of the group and the format. Members from each stakeholder group and school level will be invited to participate and represent their individual groups, Burke said.
“The committee size will be small in order to increase the effectiveness and the primary purpose of the group which is to provide info about the district and to receive feedback from members of the public serving on the committee,” Burke said.
In addition to ending parent and student groups that met with Dr. Epps and district administrators, the Teacher and Classified Liaison groups will no longer meet formally. But the district will continue to receive and respond to their concerns in writing, the communications officer said. That’s been the custom all along, he said.
“The Teacher Forum will continue to meet as they conduct their normal business which includes managing the school board candidate forums (during election years) and any other teacher support activities that are currently undertaken or that they choose to participate in,” Burke said.
As for the student liaison group, due to committee size and the number of meetings, the only way to make it more effective would be to increase the number of meetings. That’s not feasible, Burke said.
“This would increase the amount of time students miss for classes and would be counterproductive in that regard,” he said.
Students currently have several ways to provide input to the school administration, including student councils, SIC groups and booster clubs.
The school district recently topped 17,000 students and will add three more schools over the next few years to deal with the population growth.