I had a good time in the dunking booth at the Downtown Camden Halloween Festival, but I really wanted to compliment the city on a really wonderful, fun, family-friendly event. There were hundreds of folks there walking around, enjoying the games, food, and music and just having a good time. This is the kind of event that makes living in a small close-knit place such a blessing.
I had a great time eating lunch with Ms. Jane Donovan’s kindergarten class at Lugoff Elementary School. This class won the door decorating competition I had judged at the school earlier in the week. There’s nothing like pizza and Halloween cookies for lunch! I also enjoyed reading a story to the class and hearing them sing Halloween songs. Being in a kindergarten class always lifts my spirits!
I’ll be the guest of honor in a dunking booth sponsored by the Kershaw County Library today (Saturday) at 3:00 near Broad and DeKalb downtown. Come on down and get me wet for a very good cause!
I enjoyed being the “guest of honor,” so to speak, at the dunking booth at the Pine Tree Hill Fall Festival. I got wet a whole bunch of times. A lot of really good arms at that school. For those who would like another crack at me, I’ll be in the dunking booth on Saturday afternoon at the Downtown Camden Halloween Festival.
I know the North Central football team has had a rough season. I have been extremely impressed with how the players and coaches have continued to come back hard each week in spite of a lot of disappointments. That being said, I will go out on a limb and say that the Knights will win their final game on Friday night. The work and the persistence will all come together. This team has a very bright future!
As you are aware, this past Tuesday evening, the Kershaw County Council approved a millage increase that would provide local funds to the district amounting to 16,160,074. While this is certainly welcome news, this amount is still $1,503,294 less than had been projected when the district budget was passed in June. In addition, it is projected that revenue the district receives from a Fee In Lieu of Taxes (FILOT) agreement from one specific local industry will not be paid, resulting in $300,000 less than was projected in June along with less than projected Act 388 reimbursements. This makes the local shortfall for this year approximately $1,965,226. Further, to save jobs and programs during 2008-09, the district exhausted its fund balance in response to the $5.6 million cut in state funds and $2 million in local shortfalls that occurred last year. A cut in state funds of around $1.4 million has already occurred in the current year.
If there is any good news in this scenario, it is that we had anticipated the latest state cut and were able to absorb it. The furloughs that have been implemented will also buffer against the lower than projected local revenue of $1,784,149. I hope our last budget hurdle this year will be to address another anticipated state cut of approximately $1 million. We believe that this cut will occur in the late winter, when it is very difficult to make meaningful adjustments. Because we exhausted our fund balance last year to preserve as many jobs and programs as possible, we are operating “without a net,” so to speak.
In response, the School Board last night approved an additional $440,000 in reductions, over and above the $325,000 in district office reductions approved this past Monday. The primary goals in developing these reductions have been to maintain all classroom teachers currently in place; maintain programs such as SEAGUL, the Continuous Learning Center, and sub-varsity sports; and not make further reductions in stipends for athletic coaching or National Board Certification. In fact, I have strongly recommended to the School Board that no classroom teaching positions be affected this school year.
The $440,000 in reductions made last evening include the following areas:
- School Board food and travel
- Bonuses for grant writing
- A $50,000 overall decrease in bus driver salaries
- High school game manager stipends
- Deferring the hiring of a vacant curriculum coach position
- 4 school-based clerical positions
- A district transportation management position
- A 1% across the board salary decrease for all non-teacher employees, effective on the November 15 payroll. Bus drivers will not be impacted by this decrease because of the other reduction approved by the Board last night.
I will meet personally with all those persons affected and assure them that the positions involved were no reflection of the individuals currently holding those jobs, rather a necessity with shrinking resources.
As always, I continue to be both personally and professionally thankful for your hard work in these difficult circumstances. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
By Dr. Frank Morgan, Kershaw County School District Superintendent
When I first arrived in South Carolina in 2007, a colleague described Act 388, the property tax reform bill passed by referendum in 2006, as “a train wreck waiting to happen.” I wondered at the time if this was a bit of an overstatement. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Over the past few months, my colleague’s words unfortunately have proven to be true. Continue reading
Last evening, County Council voted to approve 3.5 additional mills for school district operations. Although this was about a third of what was requested, it will generate approximately $500,000 in revenue beyond the millage rate that was approved on the first two readings. Based on this millage rate, our local funding will be approximately $1 million less than the district was supposed to receive in local funding last year. Nonetheless, every little bit helps.
This evening, the School Board will meet at 7:00 p.m. at Lugoff-Elgin Middle School to discuss further reductions to the district budget based on local funding and what we project state funding will ultimately be as the fiscal year unfolds. As I have frequently shared, I do believe we will see another $750,000 – $1 million in state reductions before the fiscal year ends. Since our fund balance has been depleted, it is important that we plan ahead of time for additional losses of revenue.
A final note – Thanks to everyone who came to the meeting last night. I think the speakers and the numbers attending did have an impact. What I was most proud of, though, was the way in which speakers and spectators handled the entire situation, with respect and decorum. The most important part of last evening’s meeting may have been the way in which civil and effective public discourse was modeled. Our young people watch very carefully how we as adults handle conflict and disagreement. The lesson last night was a very positive one.
This afternoon, Councilman Jimmy Jones asked for information concerning costs of district office. I have posted the memo I provided him below:
TO Councilman Jimmy Jones
FROM Frank Morgan
RE Information Requested
DATE October 27, 2009
This afternoon, you requested information for this evening’s County Council meeting concerning costs for District Office. Because of the short timeline of the request, we were unable to do as thorough an analysis as we would have wanted. What we have tried to provide you with is a “snapshot comparison” of the district office at two points in time based on how it looked on November 1, 2008 and how it will look on November 1, 2009 after the reductions approved by the School Board on October 26. In developing this comparison, we looked at the number and compensation costs of all positions at the coordinator level and above.
Following is a summary of this comparison:
November 1, 2008: 30 positions at coordinator and above/Total compensation costs of $2,896,454
November 1, 2009: 21 positions at coordinator and above/Total compensation costs of $2,091,337.
The elimination of these nine positions resulted in a reduction of $805,117.
This information does not include the savings realized from five clerical staff positions at the district level that have been reduced over the past year.
I hope this information is useful to you. Please let me know if you have any questions.