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Morgan attends last full school board meeting

Posted: June 18, 2018 5:09 p.m.
Updated: June 19, 2018 1:00 a.m.
C-I file photo/

Dr. Frank Morgan

Dr. Frank Morgan, who has served as superintendent of the Kershaw County School District (KCSD) for 11 years, attended his final full school board meeting on June 11 at Camden High School (CHS). Morgan is retiring June 30; Dr. Shane Robbins will take over as the district’s new superintendent on July 1.

The Kershaw County Board of School Trustees moved its meeting from June 12 to June 11 in order not to interfere with elections on Tuesday. It also moved the meeting from the district offices to CHS’ lecture hall in order to hold a drop-in for Morgan ahead of the meeting in the school’s Commons Area.

Otherwise, it was business as usual during the meeting, with Morgan bringing forward a proposal of the Fiscal Year 2019 budget based on a version of the state budget adopted by the S.C. Senate [corrected from originally stating the S.C. House] earlier this year. He said he was doing this because the two houses have yet to reconcile the budget, and likely won’t until the end of the month. The new fiscal year begins July 1. Morgan said the board would likely have to amend the budget depending on what the General Assembly agrees upon.

This version of the district budget would include a 1 percent salary increase plus step for all employees. In a May 25 memorandum to the board, Morgan said it would be easier to amend the budget with an increase if the state goes in a higher direction. The proposed budget also includes a 5.2 millage increase requested of Kershaw County Council. During its meeting Thursday (also moved from June 12 due to the primaries), council rejected the millage increase on first reading of the county budget.

Trustee Derrick Proctor asked about a proposed five additional steps for working retirees included in the proposal. Morgan pointed out this would take retirees to Step 18, which, he said, “is nowhere near the top of the scale” and, therefore, not as competitive with other districts.

“We keep talking about a shortage of teachers … yet we keep these retirees, we keep these people around. They’re the ones who retire. They’re the ones that took the TERI program … yet we continue to increase their pay,” Proctor said. “I’m not against them. Please, do not take this wrong … because they’re a big help to us, but at the same time, are we giving new teachers an opportunity to come in and be teachers, or are we hindering them?”

Proctor also touched on the fact that there are teachers in Kershaw County who have gone through the effort of becoming national board certified, who have also not had their pay scales fully restored from cuts made after the 2008 recession. He also expressed concern that the district would have teacher shortages, especially in light of the possibility that Wateree Elementary School could have classes with at least 30 students.

Morgan assured him that teacher staffing would be enrollment driven.

KCSD Budget Coordinator Tori Smith confirmed for Trustee Todd McDonald that there are about 30 working retirees in the district who would be impacted, compared to roughly 75 to 100 nationally certified teachers.

“We’ve been trying to balance the retiree issue and the national board issue -- I’d really like to handle them both at once -- but that’s just not going to happen,” Morgan said, adding that these exact conversations were taking place on the district level in mid-March while preparing the budget.

Wilson pointed out that, the way the law is written regarding working retirees, their compensation can be negotiated, but such retirees may only be hired if the district cannot hire an otherwise qualified candidate.

Answering a question from Trustee Ron Blackmon, Morgan confirmed that a plan has been devised where every school will have a nurse or a health room assistant every day starting on the first day of the new school year.

The board unanimously passed the budget, with Trustee Kim DuRant absent.

In other business, the board:

• unanimously voted to approve the district’s annual submission for federal Title I, II, III and IV funds;

• received a construction update from KCSD Director of Operations Billy Smith, including substantial progress at the districts three replacement elementary schools -- Camden, Lugoff and Wateree -- which he said will be ready for students by the time they return from winter break for classes in January 2019; and

• received a chairman’s report from Chairman James Smith and Morgan’s final superintendent’s report.

In his report, Morgan said graduation at the district’s three high schools went better than at any time during his tenure. He also mentioned the Arts Arising program, which he said KCSD Executive Director for K-12 Instruction Dr. Alisa Taylor worked on with the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County. Morgan said he believes the program will have a better representation from across the county. Morgan also noted that reading camps start this week, with reading instruction also being offered at Kershaw County Recreation Department camps.

The board then entered executive session to discuss employment matters, a student appeal and the lease of the Jackson Teen Center to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands. Trustees voted to accept the administration’s recommendations concerning a set of undisclosed employment matters, a contract with the North Central Middle School principal, and a student attendance appeal. It also voted to allow the administration to offer teacher contracts between board meetings, and to enter into a post-lease agreement concerning the Jackson Teen Center.

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