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Ad hoc committee comes up with growth formula

Also, demolition of visitor’s side begins at Zemp

Posted: December 14, 2017 4:44 p.m.
Updated: December 15, 2017 1:00 a.m.
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The drawings above show what the (1) bleachers and (2) pavilion will look like when completed.

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One of three preliminary agreements proposed Monday night among members of the joint Kershaw County Council and Kershaw County Board of School Trustees growth/school resource officer (SRO) ad hoc committee is a growth-related funding formula. Trustee Todd McDonald, who co-chairs the ad hoc committee along with County Councilman Sammie Tucker Jr., made the announcement near the end of Tuesday night’s school board meeting. The committee is made up of three trustees, three councilmen and several independent members.

“We agreed, in principle, to a growth formula that we’re still working out,” McDonald said. “Basically, it’s taking the prior formula that was used and instead of using a three-year average it’s going to use a five-year average but throw away the high and the low and then multiply that growth number by the per pupil funding, multiply that by the consumer price index, and back out the Act 388 funds, whatever that difference is.”

McDonald said the ad hoc committee also agreed to leave SROs funded the way they currently are for the rest of this school and the entirety of the next school year. He also said he and Tucker agreed Tuesday morning to present a proposal to their respective bodies to have one trustee and one council member meet once a year, along with Kershaw County School District (KCSD) Chief Financial Officer Donnie Wilson, to discuss needs prior to each year’s budget process getting underway.

“The general consensus last night was that dialogue is good, we need to keep doing that,” McDonald said.

KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan called the preliminary funding formula proposal “huge.” Wilson said he believes the formula “makes sense.” Morgan said the formula was actually proposed by a member of the committee who is neither a councilman nor a trustee. Wilson said he would “run the numbers” using both the regular three-year average and the proposed five-year average to determine the differences.

McDonald said the proposal is non-binding, but that the board and council can look at it on an annual basis.

“We’ll sit with down with the council every single year and say, ‘OK, you guys, we grew this much -- here’s the impact -- we need this for funding’ and we tied that … quid pro quo, we’re willing to work with the SROs. It’s going to have some give and take, back and forth, so I felt like we covered some ground last night,” McDonald said.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, Camden High School (CHS) Principal Dan Matthews talked briefly during public forum about the fundraising being undertaken by Friends of Zemp, a group that he, CHS Athletic Director Brian Rimpf and others have formed to pay for upgrades at the stadium beyond those covered by the November 2016 referendum.

Matthews began by first thanking the board for supporting all the referenda-approved funding projects across the county, and noted that it is nice to see the new Camden Elementary School “rise out of the ground” on Laurens Street. Demolition of the current visitor’s side of the stadium -- which was once, and will again, be the home side of Zemp for the Bulldogs -- began Wednesday. Visitors will take over sitting where the home crowd does now on the other side of the stadium.

“We look forward to what’s going to happen at Zemp,” Matthews said. “Zemp is a historic place filled with lots of memories for a lot of people in our community.”

Matthews said Friends of Zemp is made up of a 17-member committee that is proposing to help continue to make Zemp “a place that our community can be proud of” and “architecturally agreeable” with the renovation of Rhame City Arena next door. He also said there were two things from the original proposal that are currently off the table.

“We do not want to name the field -- we want to leave the field alone -- and we do not want to rename the press box,” Matthews said.

He said the group is looking for sponsors for the pavilion area and the locker room, and that people should leave Feb. 16, 2018, open on their calendar for an as yet undisclosed event.

“We have a lot of support in the Camden area and our community,” Matthews said. “We think it’s a positive thing and gives us a way to not hit our budgets. Anytime we can not hit the school district’s budget, we can get our mission accomplished, that’s always a positive.”

The work at Zemp came up twice more during the meeting, first during a referenda-approved construction update and during a finance and facility committee session that would normally be held separately from regular meetings.

KCDC Director of Operations Billy Smith confirmed referendum-approved funding is being used for the demolition and replacement of the stands, press box, bathrooms and fencing as part of safety upgrades and/or better disability access. Smith said the Friends group will help pay for renovations to that side’s concession stand and locker rooms.

“And the city (of Camden) is paying for things that we’re going to trade off to help with that through this group,” Smith said.

During the finance/facility discussion, Morgan said he had no “philosophical problem” with what the Friends group wants to do, but suggested he bring trustees additional language at the end of January for the district’s facility naming policy that would address the Friends’ request while still ensuring adherance to First Amendment rights.

“I don’t think this is the last time this is going to happen,” Morgan said, referring to citizen or other groups wishing to assist in large-scale district projects.

Morgan also pointed out that the board has the final say on allowing any group, including Friends of Zemp, to name a facility or portion of a facility after a person or business.

Answering questions from the board at that time, Matthews said the Friends have thought of some funding levels for naming rights, but that those ideas are “nebulous” for now. He did say the group may sell individual bricks on the pavilion for $100 each.

“And that money could go to the renovation of the Spirit Shack,” Matthews said, adding that items such as the locker room could reflect a long-term investment during the 10-year naming rights period the Friends are requesting.

He suggested that former teams or graduating classes could use such sponsorships as a way to “remember when.”

Other items Tuesday:

• Trustees voted unanimously to accept the 2018-19 school year calendar proposal, which will start the school year on Aug. 20, 2018, end the first semester before the winter break, end the school year on May 31, 2019, and hold graduation on June 1, 2019.

• Trustees continued their discussion of possible legislative positions concerning providing flexibility to school districts to start school earlier than the third Monday of August in order to reach 90 days of instruction prior to winter breaks, and to postpone a proposed earnings limitation for working retirees by one year. Morgan will bring a final set of positions to the board’s Jan. 9, 2018, meeting.

• Just ahead of Smith’s construction update, Morgan announced that the projects are having a more than $15.5 million direct economic impact on the county, and that is even likely higher indirect impact from ancillary activity such as contractor employees eating at local establishments.

• During the finance/facility session, Wilson reported on October’s financials and trustees unanimously approved the Magnum Volleyball Club’s request to use Lugoff-Elgin High School as the site of tournaments on Jan. 27 and March 10.

• Trustees unanimously approved Council for Educational Travel USA’s addition to the district’s list of approved exchange student programs.

• Trustee Shirley Halley reported on the S.C. School Board Association’s recent legislative conference.

• Following an executive session, trustees unanimously -- minus Trustee Dr. James Smith, who had to leave -- voted to accept the administration’s recommendations concerning undisclosed employment matters, and to accept Morgan’s revised recommendation concerning a student attendance appeal.

The school board will next meet on Jan. 9, 2016, at 10 a.m. It will meet on that date because Jan. 2 will still be part of the district’s winter break. It will meet in the morning as part of an annual requirement to hold a daytime meeting, primarily for organizational purposes.

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