Low Risk Financially for School District

ALSO, Arts in 56 will explode this Saturday (March 30)
Caption: What we learn. Students from MS Bailey Child Development Center guide the District 56 Board of Trustees through “Pete’s White Shoes” as the school’s presentation during Monday night’s regular monthly board meeting. – Photo by Vic MacDonald


District 56: Lowest risk for financial trouble in statewide assessment of school districts


District 56 has emerged from a thorough financial review with the lowest score any district can receive. That means the district has one of the lowest risks for financial problems anywhere in South Carolina and shows, the superintendent said, that District 56 should not be consolidated with any other district.

Consolidation of Districts 56 and 55 passed the SC House last year, but the matter died in the Senate. Now, Superintendent Dr. David O’Shields told the school board last night (March 25), the 2 CFR Part 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards shows District 56 scores a 9 – the lowest possible score. Anything below an 18 is low risk, anything 19-28 is medium risk, and anything 29 or higher is high risk for financial problems.

“We want to commend you on the low-risk evaluation. That’s important,” board member Keith Richardson told O’Shields.

The evaluation shows District 56 stakeholders can be confident the district is financially well-run, O’Shields said. Ten criteria are measured for the evaluation, and District 56 emerged with a 9 score – which O’Shields said is the lowest that can be attained.

In this case, “lowest score” means best run, financially, he said.

Even with finances on an even-keel, O’Shields said District 56 is going to need a property tax increase this coming fiscal year. It will be the first time in five years that property taxes for school operations in Clinton-Joanna-Cross Hill have gone up. Much of the need for extra money lies with uncertainty about what the SC General Assembly is going to do to “reform” public education, O’Shields said.

“We are not in an educationally friendly environment,” O’Shields said. He added that federal money to education in South Carolina is likely going to decrease 12% in the coming year; that will affect Title I and Title II schools, Gear Up programs, and 21st Century grant awards. The grants will be “funded at zero, if something is not done,” O’Shields said.

The 3-mil tax increase is part of a District 56 budget that will be presented to the school board this spring. It likely will include incentives for hiring school bus drivers, perhaps adding them as full-time employees with benefits and duties in schools. “I want to thank the bus drivers we do have for the work they do,” Assistant Superintendent for Operations Dr. David Pitts said.

In other reports, the board was told the Wilder Stadium renovation remains on track for a June completion. New lights for the stadium are on order and will be bought and installed under a separate contract from the renovations. The board also hired teachers and administrators – 172 on continuing contracts, 8 on induction contracts, 13 on annual contracts, and 4 offers of continuing contracts.

This Saturday, the board was told, Arts Mix 56 will be held at Clinton Middle School.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., all schools will be represented with musical performances, and students’ art will be on display. This program is free to the public.


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