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A bottomless fountain of funding?

Posted: November 16, 2010 5:21 p.m.
Updated: November 17, 2010 5:00 a.m.

I’m thankful for our teachers and our school district for continuing to meet the needs of our children!

I was terribly upset by a recent letter to the editor by Ms. Sheri Few claiming that our school district “attempts to squeeze every last dime” from the citizens of Kershaw County, especially as compared to a neighboring district. First, let it be said that I do not work for the Kershaw County School District nor am I related to an employee of the school system. I am simply a mother of two young children and a strong advocate for their education and the education of all children. 

We are all suffering from the recession, but I dare say that no one has felt this stress more than our schools, our educators and our children. Let us review the school budget and all of the recent cuts. State and local funding for education has dropped by $12 million in the last two years. This brings our current state funding to the same level it was in 1993. Do you all remember how much we paid for gas in 1993? I looked it up -- $1.05 as compared to the $2.57 we pay now on average. Insurance premiums, energy/gas/utilities and telephone bills have all increased, too. The price of living has increased which should relate to an increase in our educators’ salaries. This makes me wonder how on earth we are making ends meet. How is this affecting our educators and our children? Well, I did some research. Here are the highlights: second-grade SEAGUL for gifted and talented children has been eliminated; class size has increased; Related Arts, media assistants and Fine Arts funding has either been decreased or suspended; teachers have lost their jobs … the list goes on and on. Teachers receive a much smaller stipend for classroom supplies. Do they still need supplies? Of course they do!  They have to purchase them through their own “cash-strapped” wallets. Many parents also try to help meet the needs of the classroom where state and county funding stopped short. What about raises or salary increases? Under the fiscal year 2010-11 budget assumptions, there will be no salary or step increases. As a matter of fact, instructional staff is under a five-day furlough while administration and support staff have a 12-day furlough. 

Our teachers do a great job educating our youth. They should be rewarded for all of the wonderful things they do in our children’s lives, and their salaries should not be cut short. Our children and our educators deserve better than what they are currently receiving. I am personally thankful for our teachers who are building our future through our children. They teach because they love to teach. I must give credit to the Kershaw County School District because it is doing its very best with what it has. School report cards just came out and my child’s school is continuing to grow even through these difficult times. The credit belongs to the school district and the teachers. Thank you for all you do!

I’d also like to put things in perspective from Ms. Few’s previous statement which would lead people to believe that our school district requires a “bottomless fountain of funding.” Annually an external CPA firm audits the financial records of the school district as required by law. The CPA firm has found year after year that the Kershaw County School District is a very good steward of public funds. Money is never wasted on education. Oh, and the millage charged to taxpayers … let’s clarify the difference. Richland County School District 2 decreased its debt millage by 7 mills down to 85 but increased its operating millage by 8 up to 258.3 compared to Kershaw County School District, which remained at 66 mills for debt service and 153.8 for operations. So Richland 2 is 19 mills higher for debt and 104.5 higher for operations for a total of 123.5 mills higher than Kershaw County School District’s. Total mill value of Richland County School District 2 is $485,000 vs. Kershaw County School District at $208,000. My message to our representatives and to Ms. Few: if you would like to find an area of wasteful spending, I suggest you look somewhere beside our schools.

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