A story on the “Musical Playground” at Blaney……
Lexington 1 mulls job cuts, more
Move would counter cuts in state aid
Lexington 1 officials are looking at eliminating up to 84 jobs – mostly teachers – and other classroom cutbacks in the fall to counter declining state school aid.
Leaders of the fast-growing area – home to some of South Carolina’s best schools -decried the reductions proposed Tuesday but agreed cuts appear inevitable.
An expected decline of $16 million in state aid is forcing “unconscionable” changes, superintendent Karen Woodward told school board members.
Her recommendations include:
– Laying off 66 to 84 of 3,300 employees. About three-fourths of those cuts would be from the ranks of 1,700 teachers.
– Allowing no pay raises and giving furloughs of up to four days for most employees
– Increasing average classroom size by two or three pupils
– Ending instruction in foreign language in second grade, band in fifth grade and middle school sports teams
– Closing Lexington Intermediate a year early, possibly converting it into a center for adult learning and community use
– Using $5 million in savings to avert further cuts
The plan is the “least damaging” to two dozen schools in Gilbert, Lexington, Oak Grove, Pelion and Red Bank attended by 22,000 students, Woodward said.
A final count on job cuts depends on whether board members raise taxes on businesses. The maximum allowed by a state tax cap is nearly $54 per $100,000 of property.
Normal turnover means about 20 employees whose jobs are slated to end could be retained, officials said.
Board members called the cuts shocking but say they may have little choice as state aid falls in a sluggish economy with high joblessness.
The plan offers “hard, hard decisions,” Bert Dooley of Lexington said. “I don’t like any of them.”
Other board members said academic performance will suffer.
“I don’t want to get to the point in Lexington 1 where our mission statement is we’re just open for business,” Edwin Harmon of Lexington said.
Board members must settle on a spending plan for the upcoming school year by June 30.
Lexington 1 officials relied heavily on federal stimulus aid to keep two dozen teachers a year ago and add 10 more instead of laying them off as neighboring schools did.
The move came amid hope the economy would improve, but it didn’t.
Now “there are no good options,” Woodward said. “Unacceptable as they may be, we may have to make these decisions.”
I got to attend part of the concert by the Upton Trio presented yesterday at North Central High School for grades 3,4, and 5 from Baron DeKalb, Bethune, Midway, and Mt. Pisgah. It was an excellent concert and the students did a great job. It was fun to see the North Central High School classes of 2017, 2018, and 2019 together. Special thanks to Dr. Mary Jones for all she does to make these wonderful concerts possible.
I was able to spend some time last evening at North Central Middle School’s “Family Reading Night.” This was an outstanding idea! It gave students and their parents, including current fifth graders who will be coming to NCMS next year, the opportunity to hear about summer reading choices, attend a literacy fair, and see student history projects. There was a great turnout! I especially enjoyed hearing teachers talk about the summer reading books. I also thought the history projects on display in the media center were just exemplary. Kudos to the NCMS staff for an excellent event!
A statewide rally in support of the General Assembly generating more revenue for public education will be held on Wednesday, April 14 at 5:00 p.m. at the state capitol. More information will follow. Put this on your calendar. I hope staff, parents, and community members from Kershaw County will want to be involved. The rally is timed for when the Senate is considering the budget. More details will follow, but get this on your calendar. In my various previous professional lives, I’ve seen this kind of event have a tremendous impact.