It Always Does Me Good

It always does me good to spend time with high school students…

I had my first meeting of the year with Student Cabinet, a group that includes student leaders from all grades from all three of our high schools.  We had a great discussion about the transition to ninth grade, the budget, technology, and President Obama’s recent speech to students, among other subject.  I am always impressed with the honesty and insight I get from this group.  After the meeting, I talked with Rebecca Rowell, a journalism student from Lugoff-Elgin High School, who is doing an article on the budget for “The Pitchfork,” the LEHS newspaper.  She was very well-prepared and informed.  I’m looking very forward to reading her article.

Target Comes Through Again!

As it has so many times before, the Target Corporation has come through for our district again with a grant to support our “Strings for All” program.  During these economic times, keeping tremendously worthwhile programs like this one is all the more difficult.  I and many, many students are extremely grateful to Target for its support for the arts and so many other areasin our district.

Something Akin To Magic

I was reading with a young man at Jackson School this morning, a primary grade student who is just learning to read.  As he was reading a story to me, I was struck by how well he has progressed in the last month in terms of using his “word attack” skills to sound out words.  Obviously, he has had teachers who have worked very hard and patiently with him on these skills.  People that teach young children to read perform something akin to magic.

Outstanding Job At LES!

This morning, a plumbing problem at Lugoff Elementary School required changes in classroom locations and changes in lunches.  I was totally impressed by the flexible way in which everyone at the school responded and made the best of an inconvenient situation.  I also want to recognize the fast and efficient work by our maintenance staff in getting the problem resolved and the great cooperation by the folks from Service Solutions in getting things cleaned up once the repairs were done.

Outstanding job all around!

This Is Very Cool!

Lisa Carter, Principal of Blaney Elementary, passed a great video done by her kids on preventing the spread of illness.  It’s at this link:  http://www.schooltube.com/video/44105/Cover-That-Cough  Really creative!  Outstanding job!

How ’bout those Gamecocks!

A Couple Of Bright Spots

I’ve had a couple of real bright spots today…

I enjoyed visiting Nancy Neal and the Camden Middle School Jazz Band this morning.   Great bunch of kids who really play well.  It’s obvious why this group has won so many awards.

Also visited an “Ultimate Frisbee” game at the Continuous Learning Center.  The game was organized by CLC teacher Jessee Gates as part of a student behavior incentive program.  I’ll bet this is the first time “Ultimate Frisbee” has been played in that old gym at the CLC.  Great stuff!

Update

As we work together to address our budget situation, many of you have asked me to keep you abreast of the latest developments.  In order to “guarantee an adequate program of public school education,” as mandated in state law, the School Board had originally budgeted for 2009-10 the same amount of local funding ($17,684,000) that had been projected  for 2008-09.  

On Tuesday evening, the Kershaw County Council voted 6-1 (Mr. Bobby Gary voting in the negative) to reduce the school district’s millage request from $17,694,000 to $15,794,000.  The $15,794,000 figure would take the school district back to 2006 local funding levels, although enrollment has increased by nearly 400 students since then.

The School Board will make a formal request to County Council to reconsider our original request at the next County Council meeting on Tuesday, October 13 at 5:30 p.m. at the County Administration Building.  This meeting is open to the public.

Because this is such an important issue, I think there are a couple of points that citizens need to understand about the district’s millage request:

  • The district’s request of $17,694,000 is the same amount the district was projected to receive in 2008-09, but did not receive because of declining mill value, delinquent payments and other factors.  It is essentially a request for level funding.
  • This request would have no impact on the taxes paid on owner-occupied homes for school operations.
  • The impact of this request on rental properties, second homes, and businesses would be an additional $5.10 per month per $100,000 of assessed value.

I also want to dispel a couple of misperceptions that keep popping up as we discuss budget and funding:

  • The IPP funding being used for construction cannot legally be used for other purposes.  Even if the projects under way were stopped today, the money could not be used for personnel or instructional programs.
  • The federal stabilization (also called stimulus) money, while very helpful, was not sufficient to bring state funding back to where it was before the $ 7 million in state cuts we have absorbed over the past year.   

I think it goes without saying that taking local funding back to 2006 levels will take the district further backward than we have already gone in the past year.   I encourage staff and citizens to be involved with our elected representatives in the process to set a millage rate to support schools.

Following is a link to the local government website with the names and contact information of County Council members. 

[ Kershaw County Council Contacts Website ]