Kershaw Co. school district to cut budget by $1.5M; few know how

Chairman Joey Dorton
Chairman Joey Dorton
By Jody Barr - email

KERSHAW COUNTY, SC (WIS) - The Kershaw County school district now knows how it will cut nearly $1.5 million from its budget. The problem is, no one else does.

Last month an investigation found that between 2008 and 2009, that same district gave several raises.

We looked at the raises for administrative positions -- 51 raises totaled more than $475,000.

Now a decision has been made to cut the budget more, by nearly $1.5 million. It has not been made clear where the cuts will come from.

"Motion to approve number 10...motion to approve number 11...motion to approve number 14...number 15 for a savings of $143,000..."

That's how the Kershaw County school board announced some of the cuts Tuesday, totaling nearly $1.5 million.

"I hate, folks, to be this coy about what we're doing, but this affects people, and we're not going to release it until administration has a chance to talk to these folks," said Chairman Joey Dorton.

The district, wrought with financial troubles for the past year, continues looking for ways to balance its books.

But Tuesday's meeting, and the board's decision to withhold exactly what was voted to be cut, doesn't sit well with open record advocates.

"School districts have traditionally been the worst trying to keep information from the public," says SC Broadcast Association Attorney Jay Bender.

Bender says state law requires public bodies to be much more specific on what they are deciding.

"If the discussion is vague and no one in the room knows what position we're talking about, then the public has been shut out of the process," explained Bender.

Superintendent Frank Morgan gave the board 32 budget items to consider cutting Tuesday. Nine of the items the board voted to cut were only referred to by a number, so we have no idea what they were.

The board also cut another four budget items, giving only vague descriptions.

We objected to the process.

"Your objection is noted," said Chairman Dorton.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the district sent out a list of cuts.

The top three cuts: printing, supplies, library books for a saving of $390,000, local national board certification cut by $323,000 and athletic subsidies cut by $170,000.

This still isn't over, the board needs to cut another $220,000 from its budget.

The board meets again Thursday night at 5:15 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend.

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