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A champion for education dollars

County man on mission to stabilize yearly school funding

Posted: November 23, 2011 3:51 p.m.
Updated: November 25, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Robert Price is an ordinary Kershaw County citizen.

He works as a local electrician. His children attend Kershaw County School District (KCSD) schools.

When he watched the school district slash its budget during recent years, Price was outraged -- just like every other ordinary Kershaw County citizen.

But one thing that he refused to do, Price said, was turn into that ordinary citizen who just sat around and talked about the school district’s budget.

He decided to actually do something about it.

“I used to get so tired of hearing people talk about it, and then I realized that’s what I was doing. I was just talking about it … and I realized that I need to do something,” Price said, sitting forward in his chair and pointing at a petition he recently created. “I am trying to get the point across to our representatives and senators of the state that the funding situation that we have for the K through 12 schools is not what we want -- it’s not working. There are 25 lines on this piece of paper, and my goal is to get 1,000 of those pieces of papers signed.”

What is really needed, he said, is a permanent predictable funding structure that will allow school district administrators to know how much revenue they will get each year.

This past year, the Kershaw County Board of School Trustees was not able to pass its budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year until only hours before the new fiscal year began, as it had to wait to hear from legislators regarding how much money the district would receive for the next year’s budget.

Knowing in advance, Price said, not only provides the school district with a predictable way to pass its budget, but it will also let it know how many teachers to hire for the upcoming school year.

While acknowledging that Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan and KCSD teachers are “doing an outstanding job with the funds that they have,” Price said what they have is not adequate. By circulating a petition around the entire state, Price said, he hopes to make people realize that just “sitting down at the bar and talking with your buddies” is not going to bring about the change that is really needed. 

“Where are our priorities? It seems as if a lot of our political representatives are swaying away from the K-12 situation in preference of other things,” he said. “I personally believe that regardless of your political point of view -- and regardless of how you stand on education -- if you don’t educate our children we’re going to end up paying for it 15 or 20 years down the road.”

Though he doesn’t expect to get all 25,000 signatures overnight, Price said he still hopes to have enough signatures to present to legislators by this time next year.

Right now, Price said, he’s making plans to visit every KCSD school and speak with school improvement councils and parent/teacher associations to get local support. After that, he hopes to launch a website to get statewide support.

“It’s going to be a long, drawn-out process to convince legislators to change the budget systems for the schools, but it is something that is desperately needed,” he said. “If there are enough people behind this, maybe with 25,000 signatures, they’ll realize that there are enough citizens who want things to change.”

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