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Trustees reject changes to policy, then amends it

Posted: June 12, 2017 5:33 p.m.
Updated: June 13, 2017 1:00 a.m.

During its June 6 meeting, the Kershaw County Board of Trustees rejected, 3-6, a suggested revision by the district’s insurance carrier to a policy on the community’s use of facilities. The revision would have mandated individuals or groups renting school property to carry a $1 million liability policy. A short time later, trustees voted, 8-0-1, to amend the language to read that renters must either carry the $1 million policy and/or sign a “hold harmless” agreement with the district.

Administrators forwarded the recommendation to the board in early May. Trustees were set to vote on the revision in late May, but asked district staff to provide more information, such as how much such policies cost and whether requiring the $1 million policy would save the district money spent on insurance premiums.

During the June 6 meeting, Morgan said the policies typically cost about $250 and that many of the groups that rent district facilities already carry such policies. He said there were eight groups that did not.

The board can vote to waive rental and other fees associated with using school facilities, when the people asking to use them can show just cause. Morgan said the eight groups that did not carry the insurance policy were, typically, those groups for whom the board granted waivers.

Several trustees indicated they would vote against the mandatory requirement, including trustees Kim DuRant and Todd McDonald, who expressed concern the requirement would deter people from using school facilities. Trustee Dr. Don Copley said he could not vote for the revision if -- as KCSD Chief Financial Officer confirmed -- the savings the district might realize in premiums from adding the language would be “inconsequential.”

Chairman Ron Blackmon asked if granting fee waivers to groups would pass on enough savings to afford the $1 million policy. Trustee Dr. James P. Smith pointed out that if such groups were seeking waivers because they could not afford the rental fees, they would be unlikely to afford the policy.

After the initial vote failed, McDonald -- picking up on a reference to a hold harmless letter by Morgan -- motioned to make the language “either/or.” McDonald and Irick agreed that it would be “better than nothing,” leading to the 8-0-1 vote with Smith abstaining.

In other business June 6, no one signed up for a public hearing on the district’s proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget. Trustees voted unanimously to approve the budget. Morgan and KCSD Chief Financial Officer Donnie Wilson said the budget reflects final revenue projections now that the S.C. General Assembly has passed the state’s fiscal year budget for 2018. The base student cost -- which legislators use to determine how much each district receives in state funds -- includes a $75 increase, $10 less than offered by the S.C. Senate. Wilson said the increase still keeps the actual funding to districts at well below the $3,000 per student it should be.

To absorb that and some other differences, the budget reflects the removal of about $1.3 million in revenue, forcing some changes in expenditures, most notably not offering an increase for district retirees. However, it will keep intact additional teaching positions to maintain current class sizes and meet educational needs; step increases for all employees, including those mandated for teachers; an additional North Central-area elementary school principal; line item increases for insurance, energy and custodial services; additional administrative assistants for L-EHS, Lugoff-Elgin Middle School and Stover Middle School; an additional English to Speakers of Other Languages, or ESOL, teacher; a $250 increase to the National Board supplement, bringing it to $2,500; and the salary for taking over a second school resource officer from Kershaw County.

Trustees also:

• heard summaries of employee survey data from Copley, McDonald, Irick, Blackmon, Sury and Trustee Derrick Proctor, with the remaining trustees scheduled to give their summaries at the board’s next meeting;

• unanimously voted to authorize the district to seek nearly $2.5 million in Title I funds, nearly $300,00 in Title II funds and a little more than $27,000 in Title III funds from the federal government;

• recognized members of CHS’ award-winning student council and members of Blaney Elementary School’s archery team; and

• heard a construction update from KCSD Director of Operations Billy Smith.

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