By David Meade
Anderson School District One Board of Trustees met Tuesday at the Powdersville High School library where they heard an update on the building plan, approved first reading on 13 Board Policies and heard preliminary budget information.
New Board Member Pat Cox was sworn in. Cox was appointed by the District One Board to fill the unexpired term of former Board Chairman Fred Alexander who passed away in Nov.
The County Board approved the appointement Feb. 20, according to Superintendent David Havird, who administered the oath of office.
Finance Director Travis Thomas reported the accounting firm of Greene, Finney and Horton recently finished a procurement audit and that the District has received “a good report.” The district has grown in size enough to fall under additional State procurement requirements, according to Thomas. “We have been on this new policy for three years,” he said.
In his financial report, Thomas said that there was no revenue in February from the local option sales tax, but he expects two payments to be on the next report in March.
Thomas said the District had $4,926,000 in the fund in January and had expenses of $416,000, leaving a balance of $4,510,000 as of January.
The local option sales tax is funding the building program currently underway across the District.
Thomas gave a brief report related to budget preparations which are also underway for 2017-18.
According to Thomas, the State Ways and Means committee is recommending the Base Student Cost to be increased by $50 per student., which will bring the BSC up to $2,400. Thomas said the funding for students is still below the amount the state should be paying school districts, which he said is $2,933 under the state guidelines.
According to Thomas, State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman recommended the BSC increase by $150.
He also reported they are expecting a two percent increase in retirement which will cost the district approximately $950,000.
Superintendent Havird added that the state “never fully funded” school districts under the EFA guidelines. “We are expecting a tough challenging budget,” Havird said due to the pension crisis of the state. Havird also said the state is recommending a one percent increase thereafter for the next five years and that employees are going to lose one half of one percent from their checks that will go toward retirement.
Havird said the two and a half percent per employee will be “challenging for school districts across the state.”
Havird said that student growth in District One and the increase in BSC will provide additional funds for the budget. He said that new students last year weren’t added into the budget and new students expected next year will also help.
“The pension crisis is a real challenge for school districts across the state, municipalities as well.”
Superintendent of Instruction Jane Harrison reported on several areas the district is working to improve special education including “very specific and intentional planning” in curriculum, professional development, technology (computers) and sound systems.
She said District One performed well on a state report regarding performance factor outcomes in the special education area.
Harrison also asked the Board to consider a new local board approved course for Film Criticism for grades 9-12 next fall.
Harrison reported kindergarten registration is now open and that a new online registration form is available for new students in the district. The online registration will be expanded for everyone next year she said.
Harrison also shared information on a College and Career Ready Students forum and dual credit and AP courses that result in college credits.
She said the District is looking into a new program with the Governors’s School and Clemson University. The SC Engineering Launch Pad program is designed to give engineering students a head start and keep them in the state.
The program is funded through the Governor’s School and taught by a professor at Clemson.Havird reported that the building program at Concrete is coming along verty well and that roof and brick work on the eight room addition is about sixty percent complete.
Work is underway on the Wren Athletic improvements including te field, locker, tennis courts, concessin and restrooms. The old fieldhouse has been demolished he said.
Clearing and grading is underway for the new Powdersville tennis courts and a new cut through road to Rowe Rd.
Havird said the Palmetto multipurpose building will be started this summer.
The three projects currently underway are part of an $8 million building plan the district is funding through the local option sales tax.
Havird also presented growth information from a census report released by Anderson County.
Havird said the report shows Piedmont and Powdersville area is the fastest growing in Anderson County.
Pelzer and Williamston are the second fastest growing area, he said.
The Board held first reading on thirteen policies. Most are revised or updated based on recommendations of the state school board, according to Havird.
Policies include: BCB-Board Member/Superintendent Conflict of Interest; BEC – Executive Sessions/Open Meetings; GCB – Professional Staff Contracts and Compensation; GCQF – Discipline, Suspension and Dismissal of Professional Staff; GCQF-R – Discipline, Suspension, and Dismissal of Professional Staff; IHAC – Social Studies Education; IHAM – Health education; IHAM-E – Health Education Opt-Out form; IJA – Comparability of Services; IKA – Grading/Assessment Systems/Class Rankings; IKA-R – Grading/Assessment Systems/Class Rankings; ILBB-R – State Program Assessments; KBB – Parental Rights and Responsibilities.
The Board also approved numerouse personnel recommendations.
Following the meeting board members attended a recognition program for the State Champion Powdersville Band and State Champion Boys Cross Country Team. Powdersville wrestler Liam McKinney, who won the school’s first state championship in wrestling Saturday, was also recognized.