R2 Board OK’s Budget

The April 29 Richland 2 School Board meeting began 30 minutes late before a packed house at Lake Carolina Elementary School. Executive session items were lengthy, said Chairmen Chip Jackson. While the specifics of those items were not disclosed, executive sessions items usually involve student discipline (there were 13 students appealing expulsions), personnel/ staff decisions and legal/contractual matters.

The general fund operating budget was given the most time in the meeting. The Board had initially considered a budget that included an additional $13 million in property tax revenues over last year’s budget, but when word came from the Richland County Auditor’s Office that property tax collections would only generate $11 million more than last year, the budget was reduced by $2.1 million and the specifics of which line items to eliminate from the proposed budget were left to the discretion of the Finance department. In a 5-1 vote, the Board approved a total budget of $235 million.

James Manning voted against the approval because it was lacking in the Board having the decision of what items were to be removed.

Recognitions were made for many high school students: Westwood sophomore Andrew Plante won the 2014 State Strength Championship in the 190-pound weight class by pressing 280 pounds, squatting 495 pounds and extending himself 114 inches in a standing broad jump. Future Business Leaders of America students at Westwood High School (Jacob Schneider and Alani Thompson) and Blythewood High School (Ian Finch, Lorenzo Dyckes and Amy Johnson) won first-place honors at the FBLA state leadership conference. Blythewood High student Alex Vibber was honored for his first-place award at the recent Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) state conference.

Also in attendance were the Teacher Cadets from Westwood with Westwood teacher Jennifer Tinnery. They came to observe the Board meeting from the vantage point of a future teacher presenting to the District leaders and Board members. One student said that it was “interesting to see the role teachers can play outside the classroom in influencing education standard.” Early on in the meeting, a Lake Carolina science teacher lead her students in a presentation about nuthatch birds complete with singing by kindergartener Laura Eargle and a team of third-graders introduced the audience to the wonders of Canadian furry animals. The Teacher Cadets said they found the discussions about the District budget similar to talks from the economic classes.

Fred McDaniels of the Planning Department reported on the recently launched on-line student registration process that has caught the interest of pre-school and kindergarten parents. While the initial workload was very heaving for the district’s IT Department, the streamlined approach has cut the registrar’s paperwork time in half, giving them more time to hear families about specific need their students might have. Families with multiple children would not have to repeat common data and the district can more accurately identify those that qualify for free or reduced meals. The District would like to encourage returning families to try the on-line registration and avoid standing in lines for the fall registration.

The meeting ended a couple of hours later, around 9:30, with the Superintendent’s announcement of the District’s new Teacher Of The Year – first grade teacher Kim Kuhn of Bookman Elementary – and the national recognition for the third time to Blythewood Middle as ‘A School To Watch.’

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