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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rock Hill Schools Administration Asked To Come Up With Another $1.5 Million in Budget Cuts

In what turned out to be a very busy work session, the Rock Hill School Board asked the district administration to come up with another $1.5 million dollars in budget cuts for the 2010-11 school year. Going in to the meeting, the board was looking at a $3.1 million shortfall. The administration made recommendations to eliminate about half of that in the following ways:
  • Increase athletic fees from $25 to $50 ($75,000)
  • Increase taxes by 3.5 millls (maximum allowed under act 388 this year, $840,000)
  • Teacher Supply funds moved to General Fund ($300,000)
  • Additional Operations department reductions ($500,000)
The board received those recommendations without comment but suggested the reserve fund should not be discussed until more was known about where further reductions would come from (the board has dropped the reserve fund nearly $7 million dollars in the past year and with an anticipated short fall of $5 million for the 2011-12 school year with potential revenue reduction of $2 million from the Charter school start-up, it was felt more reductions should be seriously considered). A rule of thumb, one eliminated position saves about $60,000 a year.

A concern is whether state funding will remain for the whole year. The state has already reduced the 2009-10 budget revenue by $4.5 million dollars and they have a track record of reducing funding during the school year after budgets have been set. A mid-year reduction, with no reserve fund to cover the short-fall, would be disastrous to class rooms.

The board will approve a tax anticipation note resolution at the May business meeting. This will allow the district to borrow money between November and January to make pay-roll - a negative consequence of reducing the reserve fund.

The board heard a presentation on calendar changes for next year. The administration is recommending the last teacher work day to be a furlough day and to help elementary and middle school teachers, the last two student days would become half days. This puts high school teachers in a bind and half days are all but wasted days educationally. The board was told that all teachers had to take the same furlough days because the district couldn't manage the complexity of different days (between high school and other areas). The board discussed dropping one of the furlough days so the end of year would not be so confusing. However, this doesn't have much support due to the budget short-fall. The administration will send a notice out to teachers before the next meeting and ask for feedback.

The administration asked the board to consider having all meetings at the district office next year (currently the September - May work sessions have been at schools). After some discussion, a compromise was reached as follows:
  • 4 work sessions will be held at the schools during the year. If this is too much trouble on a principal, they can opt out.
  • There will be a couple of school lunches planned during the year in the schools for board members and SIC officers.
  • The SIC will be asked to report to the board whenever their school is making a presentation to the board.
The administration asked the board to go to "laptop" meetings instead of having paper packets developed for each meeting. This will save the district about $2,500 per year (laptops are already available). The board agreed to trial this over the next couple of months.

The board received information that the Finley Road Roof repair bids are lower now than they were in the fall. This will be an item for the May business meeting.

The administration has recommended selling naming rights to athletic facilities. The board asked for additional information (how this has worked at other schools) and to consider adding auditoriums. Any money raised would go to the general fund.

The board heard a report that all employees will be put on direct deposit. This will save some money for the district.

The Superintendent reported on a Positive Deviant Visionary Team she is trying to develop to help the district take some control away from the State Department of Education.

After an executive session, the board voted to sell the Annex Building on Black Street for $81,500 to Mark Helms. His bid was the only one received. The vote was 6-0 (Silverman was absent)

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