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Running a complex operation

Posted: September 24, 2010 9:17 a.m.
Updated: September 27, 2010 5:00 a.m.

Napoleon talked about an army moving on its stomach. While it isn’t an army, a school district does moves on its stomach (just visit one of our cafeterias) and on many other things. I think everyone understands teachers, textbooks, computers, library books, pencil sharpeners and the many other items used in instruction. But there are many other areas that are extremely important to the day-to-day operation of our schools that sometimes get overlooked. 

To put this into perspective, consider that our school district includes 20 school buildings with 2,274,295 square feet of space, more than 10,000 students and almost 1,500 employees in a county the size of Rhode Island. The district operates the largest chain of restaurants and one of the largest fleets of vehicles in Kershaw County. Our cafeterias serve 683,396 breakfasts and 1,235,334 lunches. Our buses travel approximately 1.5 million miles per year or the equivalent of three round trips to the moon. This is a large and very complex operation. I thought it might be fun this month to point out some of what it takes to run a school district of our size beyond what people might normally consider. I’ve been around schools for over 35 years, and I have to admit, some of this even surprised me a little.     

In a normal school year, the Kershaw County School District uses:

1,337,802 cartons of milk; 260,466 containers of apple juice; 100,617 hamburger patties; 1,877,600 slices of cheese; 425,400 pounds of French fries; 2,880 rolls or 10,520,000 feet of toilet tissue (just short of stretching all the way from here to Dallas, TX, and back); 8,620 rolls or 6,912,000 feet of paper towels (approximately the same distance as going from Camden, SC, to Sioux City, Iowa); 1,200 gallons of hand soap; 4,788 light tubes; 4,604 filters; 4,800 gallons of floor wax; 200,000 trash bags; 158,000 custodial hours; 1,191,062  gallons of diesel fuel; 8,680 quarts of motor oil; 241 tires; and 7 million pieces of copy paper.

All of this just scratches the surface. Admittedly, none of these is particularly glamorous or poetic. But these areas and many more that I could point out reflect the basic logistical challenges involved in operating a school district of our size. More than occasionally, I marvel at how it all gets done and gets done so well.   

I’m always pleased to talk with community members about this topic or anything else concerning our schools. My direct dial phone number is 425-8916 and my email is can also contact me through the “Ask the Super” link on the homepage of the district Website.I also invite folks to read my “blog” and listen to the podcast I record after each school board meeting with meeting highlights. Both of these, and a whole lot more, can be accessed at

Postscript – Congratulations to the students at Camden High School and Lugoff-Elgin High School who raised $20,832 for the United Way of Kershaw County as part of the activities leading up to the rivalry football game between the two schools. Special kudos to LEHS Student Body President Meredith Toole and CHS Student Body President Bryan Williams for their outstanding leadership in this effort.


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