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KCSD rated ‘high return on investment’ for second time

Posted: December 4, 2014 3:31 p.m.
Updated: December 5, 2014 1:00 a.m.

For the second time in four years, the Center for American Progress (CAP) is rating the Kershaw County School District (KCSD) as providing a “high return on its investment. The district received the same distinction in 2011 and is the only Midlands school district -- and only one of 10 in the state -- to earn the honor this year.

KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan attributed the achievement -- being recognized for having academic success while keeping spending at a minimum -- to the strong commitment to keep resources where students are, along with other contributing factors.

“When the study was first released several years ago, we were quite honored to have been highlighted for our outstanding results,” Morgan said. “To again receive this national recognition -- especially since the number of school districts who have earned this distinction in our state has decreased -- is extremely gratifying.”

CAP’s ratings come from a set of productivity measures used to gauge achievement a school district produces relative to its spending. The index score is calculated averaging the percentage of students designated “proficient” or above on state assessments in reading and math in 4th, 8th and high school grades.

This year, no other Midlands school district received high marks from CAP.

Morgan said efficient money management became necessary after state action in recent years forced the district to make major budget cuts. He said, however, KCSD Chief Financial Officer Donnie Wilson’s business expertise made shaving costs less of a hassle.

“We had to cut $12 million out of our budget in 15 months,” Morgan said. “Even in making all the cuts, we made sure to save everything possible in areas that were classroom related.”

Instead of cutting costs directly impacting the quality of education students received, some major administrative positions and clerical positions were cut as was funding for administrative travel.

The district also started seeking more grants to fund and enhance school programs. According to Morgan, the district received more than $10 million in grants during the past six years.

Morgan said receiving a high mark from CAP shows the district is spending money wisely, going toward the most important part of education -- programs enhancing students’ academic experience.

“It proves that money is helpful but not everything,” Morgan said.

CAP’s results and productivity ratings for all South Carolina school districts can be found at https://interactive.americanprogress.org/projects/edu-roi/2014/index.php?state=SC.

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