School board considers Ag program

BY MICHAELE DUKE
news@kingstreenews.com

The Williamsburg County School District Board of Trustees was again encouraged to develop an agriculture program. A representative from Career and Technology reiterated a proposal presented to the district last year. Williamsburg County is one of the four counties left in the state that does not offer the program.

The board was asked to consider C.E. Murray High School as the staging ground for the program. The facility was determined through surveys and tours of the schools and joint recommendation between Clemson and the Career and Technology department.

Currently funding sources for technology are being sought through Career and Technology Education. Clemson University will provide 82 percent of teacher base salary above 190 days contract. Other funding sources will be pursued. Future sites would include Kingstree Senior High School and Hemingway High School as funding sources become available.

In July 2014, the Williamsburg County School District hosted a roundtable focused on growing agriculture within the system. Key speakers included Billy Keels, State Director of Agriculture, Clemson University, Teri Luther, Apprenticeship Carolina, SC Technical College Systems and Kenneth Sales, Williamsburg County Economic Development.

Williamsburg County generates nearly $50 million in agriculture-related business. Data shows the county is in the top 10 percent for tobacco, grains, soybeans, corn for grain and cotton acres. South Carolina agriculture and forestry have grown 23 percent since 2006 to have an annual economic impact of $41.7 billion and support 212,000 jobs according to a study conducted by Dr. James London, London & Associates, of Clemson and commissioned by the Palmetto Agribusiness Council, South Carolina Department of Agriculture, South Carolina Farm Bureau and Clemson University Public Service Activities.

In other business, representatives from MUSC presented an update on the district’s Telemedicine program. Telemedicine allows physicians to deliver care to children in a school setting through video conferencing.

The program is grant funded. Williamsburg County School District was one of two districts under the initial pilot program but only included select schools.

This year the program was expanded to include all schools within the district.