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School board considers legislative positions as two trustees exit

Posted: December 11, 2014 4:39 p.m.
Updated: December 12, 2014 1:00 a.m.
Provided by the KCSD/

Kershaw County school board trustees Nissary Wood (fourth from left) and Don Copley (center) show off a plaque honoring their service after four years, respectively. With them are fellow trustees (from left) Louis Clyburn, Vice Chair Kim DuRant, Shirley Halley, Chair Mara Jones, Matt Irick, Ron Blackmon and Derrick Proctor.

The Kershaw County Board of School Trustees said “good-bye” to two of its members during a reception preceding its meeting Tuesday evening. The board honored departing trustees Nissary Wood and Dr. Don Copley. Wood and Copley received individual awards during the reception with working with the school board. Voters elected Wood and Copley to the board in 2010.

“I’d like to say while they have served on the board, student performance has soared,” Board Chair Mara Jones said.

Other board members shared their experiences with the two members as well.

“I will remember Don for his sense of humor,” Board Vice Chair Kim H. DuRant said.

Following the reception, board members gathered in the board room in the district office to discuss topics on the proposed agenda, which included possible areas for 2015 legislative positions – issues the board feels are the most critical.

Trustee Shirley Halley spoke about information presented during the 2014 South Carolina School Boards Association (SCSBA) Legislative Conference, where the Kershaw County School District (KCSD) received the legislative advocacy program of the year award for its advocacy efforts.

At the conference, trustees discussed creating a draft of what they feel needs the most improvement to present to the county’s legislative delegation in early February. School legislative positions in 2014 concerned funding for K-12 education, base student costs, funding for 4K, public subsidies for private school tuition, repeal of local legislation-school operating millage, teacher salary scale, elimination of minimum staffing standards, adult education, teacher and administrator evaluation and restrictions on school district calendars.

Halley said legislators at the conference focused on the need to advocate for public education.

“They talked about educating children not only in Camden, South Carolina -- it affects the whole state,” Trustee Louis Clyburn, who also attended the conference, said.

Halley also said the SCSBA is rethinking three education acts approved in 1977, 1984 and 2008.

“When they came out, they were cornerstones as far as funding education -- at this point, they need to be overhauled,” Halley said.

She said a new funding process is being considered due to those acts no longer working for the funding of education today. However, according to Halley, changes have yet to be made.

KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan said he will draft some legislative positions to present to the board in January for discussion.

Trustees approved a previously proposed school calendar for the 2015-16 school year recommended by the board’s calendar committee and administration. The calendar proposes starting school on Aug. 17, 2015, and ending May 27, 2016. It also showed proposed weather days, teacher work days and ending days for nine week periods.

Larry Montague, an audit partner from the accounting firm Burkett, Burkett & Burkett, presented an audit report, and KCSD Chief Financial Officer Donnie Wilson gave a brief presentation on finance and facilities.

“There was no issue that came to my attention during the audit,” Montague said.

According to Montague, the district’s management has continued its conservative expenditure budgeting as both the local and state economies have not returned to pre-2008 levels. Montague also said the district’s general fund balance has improved greatly from the 2009 fiscal year to the 2014 fiscal year, and total bonded indebtedness from 2008 to 2014 has fallen by $14.2 million.

During his finance and facilities discussion, Wilson said he found no issues with the district’s finances.

“I am not at all concerned about it [tax bill] in terms of the total collection per year or meeting our budget,” Wilson said.

The board also heard from resident Karen Fitzgerald Jackson, who said she is concerned with the future of Baron DeKalb, Bethune and Mt. Pisgah elementary schools. She said she was speaking “out of fear that some members still want the schools to be closed.”

Trustees discussed Jackson’s concern, concluded the steps taken to address the issues proposed in November’s failed Phase 2 referenda will involve more members in the community. Aside from that realization, the board has not made any official plans for the schools.

The board next meets Jan. 13, 2015, at 10 a.m.

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