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KCSD will return to county for millage request

Posted: October 1, 2010 4:42 p.m.
Updated: October 8, 2010 6:29 a.m.

During Wednesday’s Kershaw County School District (KCSD) facilities and finance committee meeting, board members agreed to formally request that the Kershaw County Council (KCC) place the school district’s millage request back on its agenda for the next KCC meeting.

The decision to do so came less than 24 hours after the motion to approve first reading of the school district’s millage request failed to receive a second during the KCC meeting.

“Ours was basically debt service stays the same, and there was a 1.6 mill increase based strictly on enrollment, which is the way that we have done it. We visited with their finance committee several times in the spring ... and didn’t get any indication that that was going to be a problem,” KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan said. “Last night the motion was made to approve the first reading of the school district’s millage. There was not a second.”

 Morgan also said he is puzzled there was no public discussion during the meeting regarding why no councilman would second the motion.

If KCC does not pass a millage ordinance for the school district, then the school district would automatically receive the millage that was passed last year for operating and debt service. Morgan said that would result in a $170,000 difference in revenue.

In order to absorb the potential loss, Morgan said, the board could take the money from its fund balance or freeze the hiring of anyone who’s not “in front of a kid or behind a bus.” 

“We need to put as much corn in the barn right now for next year, because we know the stimulus money falls off,” he said. “We know all those issues. So my take is that in order to try to hold on to everything we can hold on to and stay as stable as possible, we need to put as much aside as we can.”

Morgan also told the board it could formally request that the millage request be placed on another agenda.

“I think we can request that it be put back on the agenda and see if there could actually be a vote. I was puzzled that no one would second it. I’ve never seen that happen,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I think it’s also possible that county council will choose to ignore the whole issue, not take a vote on it, not pass an ordinance and let it go to the last year’s millage.”

KCSD Chief Financial Donnie Wilson said the millage request is not an increase in spending per student. 

“I think it’s important to point out that the request was based on the same local spending per student this year that we had last year. The increase only came about because there was an increase in the number of students,” Wilson said. “There was no inflation factor included in the request. It was strictly the same dollars per student this year as it was last year.”

Morgan also added that the millage request is only half of the amount the district is allowed to request under Act 388.

Trustee Kim DuRant said KCC should give the school district what it is owed.

“County council makes $10,000 a year whether they’re at a meeting or not … and here we are cutting teachers and programs, and they don’t want to budge. We have to beg and plead to try and get what we are owed. Not even for a motion to even be put out there … it’s not important to them,” DuRant said. “I would like county council to consider their salary being suspended to at least half and their travel should be at least like ours. Our programs are being cut left and right and they still aren’t willing to give us what we are owed.”

Ultimately, the committee members agreed that Kershaw County Board of School Trustees Chairman Joey Dorton should draft a letter to KCC Interim Chairman Max Ford requesting that the millage request be placed back on the agenda.

“It only enables us to maintain the same per pupil expenditures as last year. It’s the smallest millage request made in recent memory. We used the same formula that has been used for a number of years to determine local funding ... and what we’re requesting is well below what is permissible under Act 388,” Morgan said on Friday morning. “We’ve cut $12 million from our budget in the last two years, and I think a strong case can be made that the school district has made the tough choices. If there is a concern, tell me about it so we can talk about it.”

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