At its Tuesday meeting, the Kershaw Board of School Trustees received a report on the portion of Phase 2 of the Kershaw County School District’s (KCSD) facilities equalization plan regarding North Central area schools. KCSD Executive Director for Operations Billy Smith led the presentation which included the following items:
• a consolidation cost analysis regarding elementary schools in the North Central area -- Baron DeKalb Elementary School (BDK), Bethune Elementary School (BES), Mt. Pisgah Elementary School (MPE) and Midway Elementary School (MES);
• a map of existing lines with students identified (and students near the town of Bethune noted);
• a map of possible attendance lines for a three-school consolidation;
• a map of possible attendance lines for a two-school consolidation;
• the text of referendum options by area; and
• a renovation/replacement report on BDK, BES and MPE.
The consolidation cost analysis for the North Central area elementary schools was broken down into three different possible options which included a four-school consolidation, a three-school consolidation and a two-school consolidation.
The analysis of the four-school consolidation is as follows:
• If all four schools are combined, one first grade teacher could be eliminated (resulting class size of 22.6), two second grade teachers could be eliminated (resulting class size of 21.25) and one third grade teacher could be eliminated (resulting class size of 21.8). This translates into approximately $248,000 in annual personnel savings.
• In addition, one administrative position, 1.5 guidance positions, three library positions and one clerical position could be eliminated. This translates into approximately $424,000 in annual personnel savings.
• Yearly combined operating costs for the four schools are conservatively $500,000. Operational savings based on a much more efficient building would be about 40 percent, or about $200,000 annually.
• Total savings would be approximately $872,000. Given that more than $5 million has already been spent to renovate and make other improvement to MES, recouping this investment would take about five to six years, which could be offset by the sale of MES’ facilities. A response by voters to abandoning the $5 million investment should be considered, this option suggested.
The analysis of three-school consolidation is as follows:
•If three schools (BDK, BES and MPE) were combined, one third grade teacher could be eliminated (resulting in class size of 24) and one fourth grade teacher could be eliminated (resulting in class size of 22). This translates into approximately $124,000 in yearly personnel savings;
• If the three schools were combined, one administrative position, a .5 guidance position, two library positions, a .6 related arts position and one clerical position could be eliminated. This translates into approximately $337,000 in yearly personnel savings.
• Yearly combined operating costs for the three schools are conservatively $375,000. Operational savings based on a much more efficient building would be about 40 percent or about $150,000 yearly.
• Total yearly savings would be approximately $611,000.
Finally, the analysis of a two-school combination, which Smith said was an option mentioned by members of Bethune Town Council and the Bethune Lions Club. In this scenario, BES and MPE schools would be consolidated to a facility approximate halfway between the two existing schools’ location. The analysis stated:
• If the two schools were combined, one library position, one clerical position, a .5 guidance position and a .6 related arts position could be eliminated. This translates into approximately $165,000 in yearly personnel savings.
• Yearly combined operating costs for the two schools are conservatively $230,000. Operational savings based on a much more efficient building would be about 40 percent, or about $92,000 yearly.
• Total yearly savings would be approximately $257,000.
“Tonight is not a vote. These opinions can change,” Board Chair Mara Jones noted as the board began discussing the options and made preliminary suggestions.
KCSD Superintendant Dr. Frank Morgan asked trustees to keep in mind that the option to combine BES and MPE also included a renovation of BDK at $4.8 million.
Trustee Kim Durant asked Morgan to explain why the renovation of BDK was so costly. Morgan said the building would have to be brought to code and “bringing an old building up is very expensive.” He noted that the codes on old buildings weren’t lax but were “limited.”
All trustees agreed upon referendum language to renovate North Central High School and upgrade its athletic facilities ($6.1 million) and to add science labs and special needs classrooms to North Central Middle School ($1.9 million). Trustees Louis Clyburn and Ron Blackmon said they would support the four-school consolidation option. All other trustees -- Jones, Durant, Derrick Proctor, Matt Irick, Nissary Wood, Don Copley and Shirley Halley -- said they would support the three-school consolidation option.
Morgan again noted that these were just statements of opinion and not votes.
In other news, the board:
• voted unanimously to waive the provisions in policy related to renaming a facility for an individual (in relation to a request to name the tennis courts at Camden High School for longtime coach Roger Smoak);
• heard a report from the facilities and finance committee meeting;
• voted unanimously to contract with Kelly Services for substitute teacher procurement services for the 2014-15 year; and
• voted unanimously to waive rental fee but not custodial fee for Concerned Clergy of Kershaw County’s use of Camden High School.