While total spending was cut this year, the district/ board has managed to add 8.5 teaching positions.
In August, 2.5 teaching positions were added when the district/ board added six 4k classes and 1.0 teacher was added at Holly Springs Elementary to stamp out the last combination class in the district. In September 2.0 teachers were added at Chastain Road and a 1.0 was added at Central elementary schools. This week the board/ district added 1.0 teacher at Pickens Elementary and 1.0 was added at Forest Acres.
If a district and board focuses on the classroom and sets priorities, teaching positions can be protected or even added in a tough economic environment. It can be done, without raising tax rates (like Greenville did), borrowing money (what Pickens did last year), raising instruction fees (what was proposed) or running down savings (like Oconee).
This is what I had to say when the board added the 3.5 teachers in August.
Below is a letter I wrote to the newspapers in late September.
In late August, the Pickens County School District added six 4k classes. Instead of spending new money, the hiring of 2.5 additional teachers was funded by cutting low priority spending in the Title I budget and savings generated by the new Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Dr. Kelly Pew
Due to the elimination of teaching positions in the past, the district had some combination classes. That is, one teacher was forced to teach students in two grades. Due to enrollment shifts and the board taking the action to add another teacher in late August, combination classes have been eliminated in the district.
How was that 1.0 teaching position paid for? Recently some high ranking administrators left the district and this set-off a string of 17 internal promotions. The employees being promoted received pay raises, but because most all have less years of service than the person they replaced, the promotions saved about $50,000. The administrative savings was then used to add that new teaching position.
In September, we learned the district ran a budget surplus last year, mainly due to belt-tightening by the Superintendent, Dr. Henry Hunt, and an austere budget passed by the school board. With some of those savings, at the September 26th meeting the board voted to add 3 more teaching positions.
Despite the tough economic times, the Pickens County School District has added 6.5 teaching positions versus last year, and it was done without raising tax rates, without borrowing money and without raising or instituting new instruction fees.