CLOVER -- The Clover School district racked up a total of 10 Palmetto Gold and Silver awards at seven of the district's nine schools this year.
The awards are based on the individual schools' performance on their annual state report cards. Awards can be earned for the overall general performance of the school, denoted as the school's overall ranking on the report card, and for closing achievement gaps, which is also noted separately on the school report cards -- though it does factor into a school's overall score.
The Palmetto Gold and Silver Awards were created by the Education Accountability Act in 1998, and come with welcome funds for the schools. The general performance awards come with funds based the number of students at the school. The achievement gap awards bring a set amount of $1,200 for Gold and $1,000 for Silver.
"I think we have outstanding teachers and principals," Clover Superintendent Dr. Marc Sosne said. "When you take people in schools who really care and are competent and give them support you get these kind of results."
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Sosne said all the credit for the awards belongs to the teachers and principals at the schools. When he took over two years ago, he implemented new policies giving principals more latitude to run their schools as they thought best. The greater freedom also came with greater responsibility for the educators.
"I've tried to decentralize and empower the principals," he said. "We've taken a lot of monetary resources from the district office and given them over to the principals.
"Now it's up to them whether they spend money on certain things."
Clover High School and Crowders Creek Elementary both earned general performance Palmetto Gold Awards, the high school also earned a Silver award for closing the achievement gap. Bethany Elementary, Bethel Elementary and Griggs Road Elementary all earned general performance Silver Awards. Bethany and Griggs Road also earned Silver Awards for closing the achievement gap.
Crowders Creek Middle School earned a Gold Award for closing the achievement gap, and Kinard Elementary earned a Silver Award for closing the achievement gap.
Clover High will receive $19,439, Bethany Elementary will receive $3,086, Bethel Elementary will get $3,232, Kinard Elementary will get $1,000, Crowders Creek Middle will get $1,200, Crowders Creek Elementary will receive $6,539, and Griggs Road Elementary will get $4,313.
The funds can be used for professional development and classroom expenses.
"I'm hoping this is not an anomaly and it becomes the rule," Sosne said. "We're creating an environment of support and empowerment for our people.
"I've been in this since the 70s," he continued. "When people are supported and empowered you tend to get better results."
With seven of nine schools receiving awards, the Clover district has among the highest, if not the highest, percentage of schools earning the Palmetto Awards this year. The district will grow to 10 schools next year, and Sosne is hoping to improve on the results from this year.
He also noted that the high amount of parental support the district enjoys also contributes to its success.
"In Clover we have phenomenal parental support," he said. "It's not 100 percent, but compared to other places I've been, we've got more support than anywhere I've ever been or observed, and it makes a huge difference."
Two York Schools also earn Palmettos
Two York School District schools also earned Palmetto Gold or Silver Awards based on their performance on state report cards.
The Floyd D. Johnson Technology Center earned $8,653 for a Palmetto Gold Award for general performance, and Harold C. Johnson Middle School earned $4,322 for a Palmetto Silver Award for general performance.