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Extra funds may alleviate KCSD staffing issues
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Thanks to a better revenue forecast, Kershaw County School District (KCSD) officials now believe it will be able to retain an assistant principal at Camden Middle School (CMS), hire a new assistant principal for Jackson School and fill a part-time band program position at Lugoff-Elgin High School (L-EMS).

The Kershaw County Board of School Trustees received updated revenue projections at its April 24 finance/facilities meeting. Estimates are that the KCSD will earn an additional $522,000 in revenue for its next school year, allowing the district to resolve the staffing issues. Tuesday, KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan pushed for the CMS, Jackson and L-EMS staffing needs during the board’s regular meeting.

Delinquent tax collections are expected to increase, as well as revenue from other fees and penalties.

During an April 17 school board meeting, Morgan reported that staffing for the L-EHS band program, funding for non-revenue extracurricular activities and the possible removal of one administrator at CMS were issues of primary concern communicated by the community. Morgan had previously planned to move an assistant principal from CMS to Jackson.

Also Tuesday, and acting at the board’s request, Morgan presented a proposal for funding non-revenue, extracurricular activities. He proposed utilizing funding in the budget earmarked to replace technical assistance funds eliminated by the state to establish a fund for such grants. The fund would be used to provide grants to schools of up to $5,000 to implement innovative academic programs and activities and/or help underwrite travel expenses of organizations that move on to state or national competition.

Schools seeking grants would complete an application, including a projected budget that would be reviewed by a committee to include the director of K-12 Instruction, director of instructional support programs and the chief financial officer. The committee may consult with other appropriate staff members, as needed. The committee would make a recommendation to the superintendent, who would determine a final disposition. Schools could  receive no more than $5,000 in total grants per fiscal year.

Morgan gave members of the board a copy of the district’s current funding policy in addition to his recommendation.

“While it is extremely well-intentioned, it is simply not fiscally feasible, nor does it adequately address situation such as the Blaney Archery Team and Doby’s Mill Robotics Team that have needed funding for out-of-state competitions,” Morgan said of the existing policy before making his recommendation.

KCSD Director for Communications Mary Anne Byrd said the money wouldn’t cover a whole trip, but could at least defray some of the costs.

“Since there’s been success among the groups here in Kershaw County, the board has become sensitive to those needs,” Byrd said.

The board still has not received information on state funding, but Morgan said he would keep the board updated.

Morgan told the board during the April 24 facilities/finance meeting that the administration “budgeted conservatively” because it is easier to add on than subtract. That conservative budgeting has helped the board avoid “severe” financial damage due to its unexpected tax settlement with INVISTA. The district had to pay back $1.3 million, but will only have an estimated $99,410 deficit for the year. INVISTA, a producer of polymers and fibers located in Lugoff, was owed $1.9 million between the KCSD and the county.

The board also reviewed a follow-up report on progress related to recommendations made since March 2011 for the Applied Technology Educational Campus (ATEC) from a broad-based committee.

The committee suggested three programmatic recommendations for ATEC: practical nursing, business education courses and expanding or adding programs based on student demand and community workforce needs, and enhancing its business partner relationships. Four facility recommendations were made, including upgrading and modernizing the ATEC campus to address visual and functional needs; addressing campus security needs; investigating taking control of Vocational Lane, a state road that divides the ATEC campus; and improve signage and landscaping around the ATEC campus.

For the nursing program, the committee suggested transitioning the program to focus more on high school students and less on adult nursing students; that the program begin transitioning during the 2011 and 2012 school year; and two of three full time nursing employees be used in additional health science clusters. The transition has been implemented this year and has enabled an additional 67 high school students to take Health Science 1. The class of 2012 will be the final License Practical Nursing (LPN) class. ATEC will then refer adult education students to Central Carolina Technical College (CCTC). ATEC Director Chet Horton presented data indicating that the number of Kershaw County residents enrolled in CCTC had nearly doubled since the transition began. Two of the nurses will be used in other areas and one is retiring. During the 2010-2011 school year, ATEC taught 42 students in four sections of Business Education. L-EHS has taught 68 students in three sections of the class this school year.

ATEC has implemented many of the other suggestions made by the committee last year.

“Facility needs continue to exist (and) security issues need to be addressed,” Horton said during the presentation.

ATEC does not currently have a school resource officer. Horton said that officer chose to “go back on the road.”

Also, Tuesday:

• North Central High School will receive an additional varsity assistant activities director by utilizing unused funds, giving it a total of eight coaches, compared to the 10 coaches each at Camden High School and L-EHS.

• The board honored the Blaney Elementary Archery Team for advancing to nationals. The team is in Louisville, Ky., through Saturday.

• The board also recognized Pine Tree Hill Elementary School’s Trenton Stokes for winning a National Handwriting Contest.