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School board reviews, expands goals

Posted: August 23, 2012 5:51 p.m.
Updated: August 24, 2012 5:00 a.m.

With the first day of school now past, the Kershaw County Board of School Trustees used part of its meeting Tuesday night to review and expand goals they set a year ago.

 “You start planning for the first day of school about the day after the last first day of school,” Kershaw County School District (KCSD) Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan said. “I feel really good about where we are on all of the goals… two of them we didn’t get as far as I would have hoped.”

Last year, the board set a number of goals such as developing a five-year plan to increase the use of online textbooks at the high school level, establish a predictable revenue agreement for budget planning with Kershaw County Council, and utilize student interest surveys to increase athletic opportunities. The district is testing its first online textbook on iPads this year with ninth-grade Algebra I classes. KCSD officials have also attempted to “reach out” to county council, but have not reached a specific agreement in regard to future budget planning. Last fall, the board worked with the Office of Civil Rights to develop a student survey that will be administered this fall in hopes of increasing athletic opportunities.

The goals include a three-year strategy to increase the fund balance and another three-year strategy for scheduled preventative maintenance and reduced energy consumption. A $1.3 million INVISTA tax settlement the KCSD paid this year and a “desire” to address teacher pay increases have delayed progress in increasing the fund balance to $10 million to $15,000 million. Also, money the school district planned for preventative maintenance and to reduce energy use is currently being held due to the exclusion of a “hold harmless” clause from the state’s budget in July, costing the district $497,000. The district will continue to hold the money until they hear from county council about a millage increase the board requested.

Board Chair Mara Jones expanded on one of trustee’s legislative goals of developing a set of legislative priorities. Jones said she would like to see more students and teachers get involved in the election process during the next four years. She suggested the board help Kershaw County residents better understand their local government and what they are voting for. 

“It amazed me as I went through the last campaign that some of the individuals in our district aren’t really aware of who their … elected officials are and when they cast their vote, or don’t cast their vote, what that means,” Jones said.

Facility/Finance Chair Matt Irick said that if the board could take just an hour to help educate people on the election processes it would be beneficial to the community. Trustee Shirley Halley suggested the board work with the Teacher’s Forum due to its record of trying to inform the public about legislative issues. Trustee Nissary Wood said there are a lot of KCSD teachers who are not registered to vote and Trustee Dr. Donald Copley highlighted the correlation between informed teachers and informed students. Copley said KCSD students need to have a more advanced understanding of the government by the time they reach certain levels of grade school.

“I feel like it’s going to be tough to maintain this country when kids come out of school and don’t know these things,” Copley said to the board during the discussion.

Jones noted that it is a responsibility of the school board to help inform the public. The board was asked to e-mail Morgan with proposals for additional goals.

During the discussion, Morgan reported that the district is expected to surpass its projected 10,200 student enrollment. Morgan said it would not be a big overage, but definitely more than they expected. He said district had “darn few” glitches on opening day.

In other news:

• Jones outlined a presentation she made to Kershaw County Council. The district presented a millage increase to council asking for 4.7 mills, or about $500,000. The board has not has not had a millage increase since 2009 and is eligible for $724,500, or 6.9 mills.

• Three people presented requests during the public forum at this week’s meeting: one concerned two school transfer requests and the other two presenters asked the KCSD board members and personnel participate in an education/workforce summit on September 13 in Sumter.

• Lugoff-Elgin High School’s (L-EHS) ABLE Club has established a memorial fund in honor of late Trustee Joseph “Joey” Dorton­­, an L-EHS alumni and ABLE Club member who died in a single-car accident earlier this month.

• Trustees voted unanimously voted to approve an $11.75 million bond resolution to refinance the district’s 2005 general obligations bonds. KCSD CFO Donnie Wilson presented the board with information on the bond at its last meeting, but was asked to present the board with a chart showing the district’s total debt service requirements.  Wilson said the chart was a “picture image of what we look like in terms of debt,” including how many bonds are outstanding. Wilson previously told trustees they were going to refinance the 2005 bond at in interest rate of little more than 1 percent, which would save the district more than $1 million.

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