Chapin Middle School named finalist

From the District’s website:

Chapin Middle School has been named as one of 12 finalists for the 2018 Palmetto’s Finest School award after extensive evaluations by fellow educators and previous Palmetto’s Finest winners.

The application process includes elements on student achievement, instructional programs, professional learning communities and school culture. Chapin Middle is now undergoing a second onsite evaluation.

“What an incredible honor it is for Chapin Middle School to be recognized as a finalist for the Palmetto’s Finest award,” said District Five Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hefner. “Over the course of my tenure as Superintendent, I have had the opportunity to witness many schools win this prestigious award and this year Chapin Middle certainly is deserving of that.”

The South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA) presents the awards each year to schools which offer the best in innovative, effective educational programs. The Palmetto’s Finest award is celebrating its 40th year and is one of the most coveted and respected awards among educators.

“Our excitement is indescribable,” said Chapin Middle School principal Anna Miller. “I was so excited to make the announcement to our school, and we are absolutely thrilled to be selected as a finalist for this most prestigious honor. We cannot wait for our second evaluation!”

“We are excited to recognize some of the outstanding and innovative schools in South Carolina,” said Beth Phibbs, SCASA Executive Director. “They represent the many excellent school communities serving South Carolina’s families.”

Winners will be announced live at the each of the finalists’ schools on March 20.

A Business Plan for 2018

This week marked the beginning of the 2nd regular session of the 122nd South Carolina General Assembly. We returned to Columbia with a long list of issues to tackle and 18 weeks to complete the work of the people. I am thankful for the trust you have given to me to represent you and our community in Columbia.
After hearing from our constituents over the past several months, many of us have discussed a Business Plan for 2018 focusing on a broad range of issues. Each item contained in the plan directly affects the lives of South Carolinians and will require serious debate.

For several years, we’ve seen results through debates on infrastructure improvement, workers’ compensation reform, property tax reduction, strengthening immigration laws, ethics reform and elimination of the Budget and Control Board, among many others. It’s my hope we will see results on this plan as well and Representative Huggins and I will keep you updated each week here through the Irmo News.

Ratepayer Protection Package
Based upon extensive study and review by the House Utility Ratepayer Protection Committee (formed after the VC Summer fallout), the legislative package proposed in our plan lowers current rates and prevents consumers from paying a single penny more for the costly failed project. Additionally, the bills modify existing law and put proposals in place that advocate for South Carolina ratepayers. Just this week, I was honored by my colleagues to be named a CoChair of the bipartisan SC Energy Caucus. We formed to not only focus on the ratepayers of our state but also to look at our state’s energy policy and consider alternatives and options that currently do not exist in the monopoly that is our energy providers.

Retirement System Reform Phase II
Last year, the House passed Phase I of retirement reform which placed the state retirement system back on a path toward solvency. When finalized by the Joint Committee on Pension Systems Review, the recommendations in Phase II will complement the achievements of Phase I by providing the most cost-effective retirement solutions that keep employee recruitment and retention competitive while also balancing long-term affordability for taxpayers. It remains important to note that these changes would only apply to future employees.

Addressing the Opioid Epidemic
The SC House Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee recommends several new pieces of legislation and supports the passage of a series of bills filed in the first year (2017) of the session in addition to non-statutory recommendations. The comprehensive approach, among other things, limits the overprescribing of opioids and encourages additional prescriber education on addiction symptoms and safe prescribing practices, tracks opioid overdose antidote administrations, institutes licensing guidelines for addiction counselors, expands access to life-saving opioid treatment programs, reduces damaging stigmas, encourages additional research on opioid misuse prevention, and empowers community and faith-based solutions. Representative Huggins has been a leader on this issue for many years.

Education Reform
The legislation uses only the state portion of the child’s per-pupil funding to create an optional education savings account (ESA) directed by parents of students meeting certain eligibility qualifications. ESA funds may only be used by parents on an approved list of services and providers to customize their child’s education. ESA eligible student populations include: students with disabilities diagnosed by a physician or psychologist; students residing in a household eligible for free and reduced lunch; current and previous foster care students; and children of military families.

Entitlement Reform
The bill would require able-bodied adults to actively seek work in order to receive food stamp benefits. While currently administratively enforced by the South Carolina Department of Social Services, this bill would make the practice permanent law.

In the coming weeks, I will be asked to vote on each of these matters, and I welcome your feedback and input regarding these and other issues that are of interest to you. Please contact me through my website or call me directly at home at 732-1861.

It’s an honor to again serve you and your family as your State Representative in Columbia!

The Weekly Rewind – January 12th


January 12, 2018

Lawmakers returned to the State House on January 9, 2018, to commence the second regular session of the 122nd South Carolina General Assembly.

The House of Representatives took up the Governor’s vetoes on H.3720, the General Appropriation Bill for the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 STATE GOVERNMENT BUDGET. In addressing vetoes, legislators had to contend with a revenue shortfall that has left the state with approximately $34 million less in non-recurring spending than the estimates from the Board of Economic Advisers that were used in approving the budget. The House voted to sustain some of the Governor’s vetoes, including $4.9 million in nonrecurring revenue allocated to the Department of Health and Human Services to support various medical contracts. The House voted to override vetoes on other items, including Education Lottery Funds devoted to leasing and purchasing new school buses in the amount of $17.5 million from the Lottery Expenditure Account and $3 million in unclaimed prize money along with whatever balance may remain in the unclaimed prize fund. Vetoes that the House voted to override have been sent to the Senate for consideration.

The House approved S.456, addressing SOUTH CAROLINA TECHNICAL COLLEGE MOTORCYCLE SAFETY COURSES, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation provides that a person who holds a motorcycle beginner’s permit who has failed the motorcycle driver’s license test three or more times must successfully complete a South Carolina Technical College motorcycle safety course, or its equivalent, in lieu of passing the motorcycle driver’s license test, in order to obtain a motorcycle license. All courses must be at least eight hours in length and be taught by an instructor accredited through a training program in which the procedures for accreditation are equivalent to those set forth in ‘Manual of Rules and Procedures’ published by the National Safety Council. All courses must include successful completion of an examination equivalent to the Department of Motor Vehicles motorcycle skills test. The legislation also provides that any driver with a Class M (motorcycle) endorsement who has accumulated driver’s license points shall have the number of his points reduced by four upon proving to the satisfaction of the Department of Motor Vehicles that he has successfully completed an accredited South Carolina Technical College motorcycle safety course or its equivalent. No person’s points may be reduced more than one time in any three year period using these provisions.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4036, a bill AUTHORIZING THE STATE INSPECTOR GENERAL TO CONDUCT FINANCIAL AUDITS OF LOCAL PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICTS at the request of state or local public officials who have complaints of possible school district financial mismanagement. The legislation expands the State IG’s authority to perform government audits by providing that the State Inspector General, for good cause shown upon request of any state or local public official or entity, may conduct financial and forensic audits of school districts. Audits must be completed and copies furnished to the relevant parties at the conclusion of the fiscal year following when the request was made, unless the State Inspector General explains in writing to the requesting parties compelling reasons why the audit cannot be completed during this time frame.

Dominion Energy to buy SCANA (one question survey)

If you are a SCANA customer, please let me know your thoughts:

One Question Survey (your answer is anonymous).

Dominion buying SCANA, offers refunds to SCE&G customers after nuclear fiasco


Virginia-based Dominion Energy is buying SCANA Corp. in a $14.6 billion deal that offers $1.3 billion in refunds to SCE&G power customers who unwittingly helped bankroll SCANA’s failed nuclear expansion project.

In a news release announcing the deal, contingent on a myriad of regulatory and shareholder approvals, Dominion pledged cash refunds of about $1,000 per household to customers of SCE&G, SCANA’s Cayce-based electric utility.

The Richmond-headquartered utility also promised to cut SCE&G’s electric rates by $7 a month, on average, and to put a halt sooner to customers’ ongoing charges for the abandoned V.C. Summer nuclear project.

But the proposal has a major weakness in the eyes of S.C. lawmakers: Those customers still would be charged higher electricity bills to pay off debt for two abandoned, unfinished nuclear reactors over the next two decades. SCANA had said it would pay off that debt over the next 60 years.

To read full article, click on link in title.

Lake Murray Elementary enrollment freeze approved

From the District’s website:

The School Board of Lexington-Richland School District Five approved a plan to address increasing enrollment at Lake Murray Elementary School.

The district’s new “Enrollment Freeze” would impact “only students and families who will be moving into the Lake Murray Elementary School attendance zone after Jan. 22, 2018,” Chief Planning and Administrative Officer Dr. Michael Harris said.

All new students and families will be administratively reassigned to either Ballentine Elementary or Chapin Elementary, where there is available space and capacity for additional students. The Board passed the Enrollment Freeze plan during its Jan. 8 school board meeting.

Click the following link for the full presentation on the LMES Enrollment Freeze .

Merry Christmas!

Dr. Christina Melton named as superintendent-elect

From the District’s website

IRMO – Lexington-Richland School District Five trustees announced Monday that they have picked veteran educator Dr. Christina Melton to become the district’s next superintendent.

Melton, who is currently the district’s chief instructional officer, will serve as superintendent-elect through June 30, replacing Dr. Stephen Hefner who has announced that he will retirement at the end of the school year. The announcement was made during a Dec. 11 school board meeting.

“Dr. Melton is regarded as one of the best educational leaders in our state, and we are excited to name her the next superintendent of School District Five,” said Board Chairman Robert Gantt. “Naming her superintendent-elect helps us ensure the district’s continued success and a seamless transition from one extraordinary superintendent to the next.”

Melton’s career in education spans 23 years, the last nine years with District Five. She first served District Five as the principal at Nursery Road Elementary from 2007 to 2012 before taking on the director of elementary education role at the District Office. She was named chief instructional officer for District Five in March 2013, supervising the implementation and evaluation of staff development programs and ensuring district compliance with state standards, laws and regulations.

“It’s an incredible honor, and I am humbled by the responsibility of leading this great school district,” Melton said. “In District Five, the focus has and always will be on teaching and learning. My continued mission as superintendent will be on making a positive difference in the lives of children and teachers in our community. We have much to celebrate and much to look forward to in School District Five.”

Melton has been actively involved in several educational boards and organizations. She has served as chair of the South Carolina Council on Accreditation and School Improvement for the South Carolina Association of Colleges and Schools. She also sat on the board of directors for the South Carolina Association of School Administrators.

Her awards and recognitions include: SCASA Administrator of the Year in 2016, the 2012

Superintendent’s Award for Outstanding Leadership and the 2012 Outstanding Contributions in Education Award by the South Carolina Association of School Psychologists. She was also named South Carolina Elementary Principal of the Year for 2011-2012.

“I have every confidence that Dr. Melton is well prepared to serve as the superintendent of District Five,” Hefner said. “She will provide both the continuity and stability needed to effect those changes which will move the District to even higher levels of success.

Back-to-back champs! Dutch Fork runs to 5A state title

Looks like I’ll be honoring Coach Knotts and his team again in the State House Chamber in the coming weeks! Congratulations on a FANTASTIC FINISH!


Dutch Fork repeated at Class 5A champion in dramatic fashion.

Senior linebacker Hugh Ryan tackled Dorman’s John Gelotte at the 1-yard line on a game-deciding 2-point conversion attempt to give Dutch Fork a 28-27 victory Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.

“Well, 5A has been in existence two years and we’re the champions. The climb to the top of the hill is hard, but staying there is harder,” Dutch Fork coach Tom Knotts said. “That’s going to be our motto, and we’re going to stick with it.”

Read more from Lou at the State

The latest on VC Summer “fix”…

S.C. lawmakers are ready to drop the hammer on SCE&G — with a flurry of bills aimed at blocking the utility from charging its 700,000 residential customers any more money for its failed nuclear project.

After a meeting Tuesday, the S.C. House now has six proposals ready for a floor vote when lawmakers return to Columbia Jan. 9.

And a special S.C. Senate committee Tuesday also moved forward with a similar package of proposals aimed at fixing problems that surfaced in July when SCE&G and state-owned Santee Cooper abandoned a nine-year, $9 billion effort to build two nuclear reactors in Fairfield County.

Read more from The State by clicking here

News from the Ballentine Civic Association

December 4th Ballentine Civic Association meeting 6:30 pm, Ballentine Community Center – Jody Tucker, the developer of the new low income apartments project for Dreher Shoals Rd and Ballentine Park Road will be there to explain “how great” the new apartments are going to be. If you know anyone that lives in the Ballentine Cove vicinity, please make them aware of the meeting. These apartments will probably impact their area. One of the worst kept secrets around are that there already are low income units at the Marina Bay apartments on Marina Road.
A lot of other issues are ongoing, so please attend to keep up with the projected projects planned for this area.

December 9th – the Ballentine Community Christmas party – 11:30 am to 1:30 pm at the Ballentine Community Center. All are welcome to this free event. All we ask is that you bring a covered dish and a small door prize. Santa comes and brings gifts for the kids.

Any questions, please call 542-2419. Thank you. Joan Tweed, Secretary Ballentine Civic Association