By Stan Welch
The state giveth and the state taketh away, at least when it comes to funding education. That was the gist of Superintendent David Havird’s report to the Anderson District One School Board Tuesday night.
Havird expounded on the recent changes implemented as a result of Governor Nikki Haley’s proposed modifications to the state’s educational efforts. Haley proposed significant changes earlier this year, including major reallocations of funds for technological and infrastructure improvements for the state’s impoverished counties and school districts.
Major funding adjustments were proposed in such programs as those targeting at risk children. Also targeted for additional funding are programs for gifted children. The rub comes in in relation to the formula for determining the redistribution of funds.
Poverty is basically determined by the percentage of students receiving free or subsidized meals during school. Havird explained that such a formula actually favors other counties and districts over District One.
“The average percentage of poverty in SC school districts is seventy seven per cent. In our district, it is forty two per cent,” said Havird. He went on to explain that while the total increase in EFA funds earmarked for District One is approximately $1.2 million, once deductions from funding for gifted and at risk programs are factored in, the actual funding increase is less than $200,000.
“No one begrudges the assistance being extended to the more impoverished students in the state, but it is hard to see these changes as anything but our district being punished for doing well,” said Havird.
Two areas that will see increases are funding for technology, with an increase of $318,000 slated for the district, as well as a $230 grant for a district reading coach. Again, that coin has two sides, since the grant requires a fifty/fifty matching grant. So to get the money, an equivalent amount has to be found elsewhere in the budget.
In other business, County engineer Judy Shelato was on hand to explain the proposed construction of almost a half mile of sidewalk along the north side of Ragsdale Road in Powdersville. The project is the first phase of the Safe Routes program designed to make walking and cycling to school safer.
Shelato reported that the quarter of a million dollars needed for the project has been obtained through the Greenville Pickens Area Transportation (GPATS ) planning group.
She reminded the Board that actual construction will almost certainly not begin prior to 2016. “The timetable on these projects is usually measured in years, not months.”
The project, if expanded through the three proposed phases, would eventually link up with Old Anderson Road and ultimately reach Dolly Cooper Park.
The Board approved a plan to make up snow days that would designate June 2, 3, and 4 as student makeup days, with June 5 slated for a teacher work day. The Board is authorized by state legislation passed earlier this year, to forgive two of those student days.
Graduation ceremonies for the District’s three high schools are scheduled for May 30 at Littlejohn Coliseum on the Clemson University campus. Palmetto High will start the day with ceremonies at 10 a.m., followed by Powdersville High at 1 p.m., and Wren at 4 p.m.
The board acknowledged the accomplishment of a group of Wren Primary School fifth graders, who will be representing the district at the national Jet Toy Race Car competition to be held in Detroit, Michigan in a few weeks. The group built a chassis for a jet powered car made from recyclable materials and won both district and regional competitions.