Manning Questions Fees

During closing comments at the March 26 Richland 2 School Board meeting, held at Conder Elementary School, Board member James Manning continued his pressure on the Board to track and disclose professional development fees. Manning said the Board should have empirical evidence to support the amount spent and received for professional development. The rest of the Board remained silent on the issue. Without referring to Schlechty training directly, Manning reiterated the Budget Design Team findings, saying that there may be different professional development opportunities that would yield stronger results.

Survey Says – Earlier in the meeting, the District’s Budget Design Team made a presentation to the Board. Under the Schlechty training model, Design Teams are created for all areas of the District. To that end, a cross-divisional group of District employees were organized into sub-committees to analyze employee responses to an on-line survey regarding the District’s budget. There was a significant drop in employee responses to the survey, down by a third from last year. Survey suggestions include: more diversity in the kinds of professional training available; more IT/computer training to support the purchase of technology; increase administrative support at the schools and a reversal of the controversial experiment that put assistant administrators in the classrooms with teaching duties at the high schools.

Bulls vs. Bears – Chief Financial Officer Bob Davis reported that First Citizens Bank suggested the District place $5 million of its $20 million cash reserve account into a more aggressive investment account (one-time only) to increase yields. This departure from the usual investment criteria was endorsed by Davis who said all funds would continue to be insured.

Last of Bonds – The Board approved selling the last of the bonds available from the $306 million bond referendum of November 2008. The funds will be used to finance improvements at existing schools and the construction of new schools – School #19, an elementary school in Blythewood on Kelly Mill Road, is currently 43 percent complete but final work will not be completed until more than a year from now, in the spring of 2014.

Arts & Language – The standing room only meeting kicked off with dozens of recognitions and presentations made. Conder Elementary showcased the arts in a poetry reading and strings performance of Cajun music. Project CARE, a three year counseling grant expiring this year, highlighted the work of the bilingual portion of the program.

The next Board meeting will be April 9 at Polo Road Elementary School. The first public hearing of the proposed budget will be at 5 p. m. before the Board holds executive session. The regularly scheduled public session is at 7 p.m.