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Shearouse, parents to discuss safety
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Superintendent Randy Shearouse presents a certificate of recognition to South Effingham High sophomore Amanda Starling, who is serving on the state superintendent’s student advisory board. - photo by Photo by Sandi Van Orden

Effingham County Schools Superintendent Randy Shearouse told concerned parents he wanted to meet with them to talk about school safety issues.

Parents came to Thursday’s school board meeting concerned about a student who came to Effingham County High School on Tuesday with a loaded gun and a knife.

Shearouse said that he had been able to speak with some of the parents in attendance and asked that parents call ahead to be placed on the agenda to speak at the meeting.

“We also ask that you meet with the superintendent before you come to see if you can find out the best solution for the issue at hand, and that’s what I’m going to ask you for now,” he said.

Shearouse said he would like to talk to all the parents concerned in order to brainstorm.

“There may be some ideas that you have that you can share with me that will help because you have children who go to high school,” he said. “You’re out there taking them to school each and every day. There are some good ideas that we may be able to implement based on your suggestions.”

He said he realizes the incident is a very serious concern and it was taken as such. Security at the school was increased.

“I have kids in the school system, and I want them to be safe,” he said. “This is not a matter that we take lightly.”

Shearouse said the board does want to hear from parents, and the next meeting will be on Dec. 10.

The school board also recognized Amanda Starling who has been selected to serve on State Superintendent Kathy Cox’s student advisory committee.

Starling, a sophomore at South Effingham High School, is one of 55 members chosen from more than 700 applications. Starling, the daughter of Skip and Dr. Nathalie Starling, a teacher at South Effingham High School, is the second student from SEHS to serve on the committee and the third from the county.

“That’s a great honor to be chosen,” Shearouse said.

Nine other high school students in Effingham applied, according to Shearouse.

“I’m so proud to be chosen and represent Effingham County,” Starling said.

She attended the October session and described the meeting as very productive. Attendees discussed the state’s Web site and how to make it appeal to teens and their parents and how to make it easier to navigate.

“We talked about adding icons and making where there weren’t as much abbreviations,” she said, “because some of the parents don’t know what it means. They said they’d think about it.”

She said the members were then put into smaller groups, and she was in the group on adequate yearly progress and testing. She was placed in the group because of an eye disease that makes it difficult for her to read small print.

“I told them about my problems in testing, and not getting some tests enlarged,” Starling said. “When I was in eighth grade, when everyone else took the PSAT, I didn’t get to take it because they didn’t get an enlargement for it. So I’m now having to catch up.

“I told them about having to have tests read to me, which is really hard when some people can’t pronounce words. That was a problem for me.”

Starling also discussed students who have other problems and was given a homework question to ask school board members, principals and teachers.

“The question is, ‘if our country was in a recession, what aspects of Georgia education should be cut first? Where should budget cuts be made and what should be kept?’” she asked.

Shearouse agreed to discuss the budget cuts before the next meeting.