Darlington County School Board to meet on proposed penny tax Friday

Dr. Thelma Dawson, and Billy Baldwin at the DCSD Board of Elections meeting on Monday August 8, 2016 Photo by Jana E. Pye

Dr. Thelma Dawson, and Billy Baldwin at the DCSD Board of Elections meeting on Monday August 8, 2016
Photo by Jana E. Pye

By Jana E. Pye, Editor, editor@newsandpress.net

The Darlington County School District Board of Education met on Monday, August 8, and voted to table an action on the agenda regarding a proposed resolution for sales tax.

Board member Dr. Thelma Dawson made a motion to remove the agenda item until the board could meet again, to receive more information and reword the items to be more specific.

The vote to postpone the vote was 6 – 2, with nay votes cast by Warren Jeffords and Jamie Morphis.

The meeting is scheduled for Friday afternoon.

Representatives from Haynesworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A. were in attendance to discuss the proposed one-cent sales tax for the school buildings in the school district.

If approved, the proposed resolution will be placed on the ballot in November.

During the board member comment time near the end of the meeting, past chair Warren Jeffords expressed his displeasure in the action item being moved to Friday. “On the Resolution of the Sales Tax, I was very disappointed that we decided not to vote on that tonight. I thought we’d had a meeting and were pretty much certain. I think we need to give the public an opportunity to vote on this.”

Robbie Smith, the new Director of Darlington Institute of Technology (DCIT) provided the board with his plans for the future of the facility, including exploring options to allow younger students to learn more about the classes offered, and inviting members of the business and industry sector of the area to partner to work towards implementing programs to address their needs for more skilled workers. Smith said that future plans to use the facility at night, such as afterschool classes or partner with Adult Ed. may allow the facility to be used more. Future programs that may be offered for students have been discussed, including cosmetology, culinary arts, coding, game design, and sports medicine to name a few. Smith noted that scheduling conflicts occur for all of the schools in the district, but particularly with Mayo and Lamar.

Diane Sigmon, DCSD Technology Director, updated the board members on the 1 – 1 ratio now met at the district high schools, with 3,900 iPads and 750 more Mac Books being distributed to the schools. Students will be using electronic textbooks, which will have added bonuses for teachers implement the use of websites and videos along with lesson plans.

The board also heard from Jay James about a request from the City of Darlington to allow the school district to allow a Right of Way easement on a section of a proposed walking trail along Swift Creek from Wells Street to South Main Street. James recommended that more details be provided to the school district before they move forward on the plan.

Jane Hursey told the board that the district is facing 14 teacher vacancies, from seven of the 23 schools; at least six are pending replacements. This makes this the most challenging shortage since 2008, and one of the first times there was a shortage on P.E. and Social Studies. The district is now hiring teachers through the EIP international program. The district no longer has a recruiter, and has had veteran teachers were recruited away from DCSD for larger salaries. “We used to pay 10% above the state teacher scale,” said Hursey. “We have to look toward building that back in their salaries to remain competitive. If you recall, we used to give 50% toward their insurance benefits. Those are things that used to be a draw for our district, we need to look at that again.” She added that individuals that wish to become teachers may apply through alternative certification such as the PACE program and ABCTE, such as math and science majors.

Jamie Morphis urged that the district needs to change the line items on budgets to remain competitive. “We’ve got to quit complaining, we need solutions.” He also suggested the board perhaps meet more than once a month to address critical issues.

See more details on this meeting in the print version on Wednesday, August 17.

Author: Jana Pye

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