Anderson School Distict One building program coming in on budget

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During their meeting Tuesday, the Anderson School District One Board heard an update on the building program, student math scores growth and the State Champion Wren Competition Cheer Squad was recognized.
Kristee Brady is head coach for the Cheer team. Reid Merritt is Assistant and Korey Stone is JV coach. The team includes 26 members who were recognized and congratulated by the Board and Superintendent for winning the AAA State Championship in November.
District One Finance Director Travis Thomas reported on the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) receipts for December, which were collected from August and September. According to Thomas, Anderson County received a total of $5.4 million. District One receives 31.5 percent which amounted to $1,759,000. Of that twenty percent, $351,000 will go toward property tax relief and eighty percent, $1.4 million, will go toward capital improvements. The LOST fund balance is currently at $6.2 million.
Thomas said they are beginning preliminary budget work which will be presented to the Board at the March 29 meeting and will be discussed in more detail in a work session following the meeting. An update will be presented at the April 26 Board meeting. If needed, a work session may be scheduled for May 10. The budget notice will be published week of May 15 and the budget will be presented for final approval at the May 31 meeting and presented to the Anderson County School Board in June.
Dr. Jeff Wilson presented information on the MAPS Academic Progress report for Math scores for last year and showed a chart which reflected above average growth for students in all grades, up to the ninth grade. The information compares District One students to comparable students in the state.
“Every grade level is significantly above the average growth of a student,” Dr. Wilson said. This is also during COVID when we had teachers and student out. He said the average school district is expected to show a 50 percent growth. The District One goal was 65 percent and they came in at 63 percent during a COVID year. “We were concerned we wouldn’t see the growth,” Wilson said.
Superintendent Robbie Binnicker said, “This is remarkable that at every growth level we saw that much growth. This is comparing smart kids to smart kids and average kids to average. It shows a real big difference of what our kids are getting compared to what others are getting.”
There was considerable discussion after Binnicker was asked by a board member about the growth tapering off at ninth grade. Binnicker responded that there has been no incentive for high school students to improve their scores. The testing is voluntary at that point. Dr. Wilson said they have “some ideas” for incentives. “There are things we can do.” Wilson said some principals will be attending a session with other schools to see how they are using the MAPS program as an incentive to improving SAT scores and other ways it can be used. “It is a tool that can help.”
Board members Brenda Ellison and Mike Wilson were recognized for 10 years of service and presented pins.
In the Nutrition report, Becky Brady said the program served 9,503 more meals in 2021 than in 2020. “It continues to grow.” Like many businesses, Brady said the District is having problems finding help for the program and bus drivers. “Staffing is an issue. We need employees.”
Updating the Board on the building program, Binnicker said that the Wren Middle Phase 3 construction is almost complete and is expected to be finished by the end of February. Phase 3 connects Phase 2 to Phase 1, he said. There is some inside work to be done. The bus loop should be completed in four to five weeks.
Binnicker also presented information on the Building program financials. The report shows the budgeted maximum price for work done at each school and five projects that are yet to be completed. It also includes $1 million for land for a new school to be built in the future if needed. Total expenses for the current building program amount to $146,924,689.12.
The building program was started in 2019 and included two new schools, new additions, security improvements and more at every school in District One.
The program was financed mainly with the 2019 Bond Referendum of $109 million. Other funding includes $6,614,521 premium, $3 million from the General Fund, $20 million from the LOST, $1,582,828 in interest and $6,973,834 from energy saving upgrades. Total revenue for the building program is $147,171,183. Total expenses are $146,924,689. The remaining amount, or contingency is $246,494. According to Thomas, total construction expenses could be less than expected or budgeted in the information presented to the Board, but is expected to be close.
“There was a lot of work by the District and the Board,” Binnicker said. “We spent our money extremely wisely.”
In Board action, funding was approved for the Career and Technology Center and two policy changes.
Superintendent Binnicker recommended funding $120,000 of LOST funds to the Anderson School Districts 1 & 2 Career and Technology Center. The funds, which is the same amount provided for each of the last two years, will go towards a new maintenance building at the ACTC. District One has three high schools that use 75 percent of the slots at the ACTC. District Two, with 25 percent of the slots, will provide $40,000 toward the project.
The Board approved first reading on Policy JICDA-R Code of Conduct and second and final reading on IKA-R Grading/Assessment with minor changes.
The Board then went into executive session to review the Superintendent’s Contract and discuss a contractural matter.