South Pointe High School has become the second Rock Hill school in a row to earn a state award honoring efforts to foster civic engagement in public education.
South Pointe’s School Improvement Council, or SIC, has won of the 2017 Dick and Tunky Riley Award for School Improvement Council Excellence.
“The win is very exciting,” said Rebecca Gilleland, chair of the South Pointe SIC. “It’s a great thing for the school. It’s important for the community to see that we have a lot of families excited about the school and engaged.”
The award, named for the state’s former governor and former U.S. education secretary Richard Riley and his late wife, was created in 2002 to recognize the contributions from more than 1,200 local improvement councils and more than 13,000 groups across the state.
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South Pointe’s SIC was one of 16 named to the state council’s 2017 honor roll in January, from which five finalists were chosen for the Riley Award. Ebinport Elementary in Rock Hill won the Riley Award in 2016, said Mychal Frost, director of communications for Rock Hill schools.
School improvement councils, made up of parents, educators and community members, serve as advisory committees, according to the Rock Hill school district website. By law, each S.C. public school has to have a school improvement council.
South Pointe’s SIC stuck out for their work in adjusting attendance zones to more equally distribute student populations, fund the actual operating costs of student activities and form an Equity Committee dedicated to ensuring equality among the district’s three high schools, a release states.
In response to the SIC’s recommendations, the Rock Hill school district eliminated half of the school’s $185,000 activity deficit, better enforced transfer policies and gave additional funding to all three schools for band and athletics, the release states.
“The work of that committee and the district's realization that our lower enrollment necessitated additional support led to increased funding for South Pointe, a programs and facilities study that benefited each high school and several other positive steps to ensure equity,” said Al Leonard, South Pointe principal. “Conversations around that topic are ongoing and may continue to have positive ramifications.”
South Pointe’s SIC also continues to market the school and reports that the 2016-2017 school year saw the largest registered freshman class in the last five years, the release states.
“We worked hard to market South Pointe,” Gilleland said. “Everyone at the school knows it’s a great place, but the community had somewhat of a negative perception. We worked to fight that and show the great things that are happening at South Pointe.”
On March 18, Richard Riley presented the award to South Pointe during the S.C. School Improvement Council Annual Meeting at the S.C. State Museum in Columbia.
“The South Pointe High SIC has done wonderful work in the past year that is well-deserving of this statewide recognition,” said SC-SIC Board of Trustees Chair Amelia B. McKie. “When parents, educators, students, and community members work together as a School Improvement Council to identify needs and take proactive steps to meet them, it does have significant, positive and lasting impact for our schools, our students, their families and our communities.”