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School board approves INVISTA tax settlement

Posted: November 4, 2011 3:45 p.m.
Updated: November 7, 2011 5:00 a.m.

The Kershaw County Board of School Trustees unanimously voted Tuesday to approve the terms of a settlement in a years-long tax dispute between Kershaw County and INVISTA.

The $1.9 million settlement comes several years after INVISTA requested a tax refund of as much as $2.5 million from the county. INVISTA said the county overvalued certain taxes in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Because the Kershaw County School District (KCSD) receives funds from the county, KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan said, it will owe 70 percent -- or $1.33 million -- of the final settlement. The county will be required to pay 30 percent.

Thursday afternoon, Morgan said the $1.2 million payment will be paid out of the general fund reserve. He also said the funds will be recouped over a three-year period, based on INVISTA’s previous and projected investments.

In other business, KCSD Director of Student Assessment Lavoy Carter updated the board on some standardized testing news. Carter said while 1.5 percent more KCSD students passed the Algebra 1/Math Tech II exam, the district trailed the state average by 5.6 percent. He said there was also a 2.2 percent decrease in the number of students who passed the English I exam, although the school district’s average was still 1.2 percent higher than the state average.

Carter said 80 percent of the district’s second-year students passed both sections of the High School Assessment Program (HSAP) exam, representing a 2.6 percent increase from 2010.

KCSD students outperformed the state in the HSAP’s English/Language Arts and Math sections, Carter reported.

He also said 82 percent of KCSD students graduated in four years during the past school year, a .6 percent decline from 2010. Carter said the school district’s graduate rate is different from that of the state’s graduation for the school district because the school district’s calculation includes students who receive GEDs but excludes “non-diploma track special education students.”

“Our four-year rate is down some … and our five-year rate is up from the previous year to 84.6 percent. The previous year it was 79 percent,” he said.

Morgan said he puts more emphasis on the school district’s five-year rate. He also said the school district can be more aggressive with getting students in the GED program, and supporting them once they are enrolled.

“Any kid can have a bad freshman year. The big issue is whether or not you can grab them and keep them moving or lose them,” Morgan said. “I’m not sure the four-year rate is magical; the idea is to get them graduated and that’s why I put a lot of focus on the five-year rate.”

Trustees also unanimously approved proposed changes and updates to board policy, including changes in the new tiered evaluation system for new elementary and secondary principals; and revisions to the communicable diseases, staff health, health education and prevention of disease/infection transmission board policies. The changes were recommended based on advice from the South Carolina School Boards Association.

The board will next meet at 6 p.m. Nov. 15 at the school district office, 2205 W. DeKalb St., Camden.

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