District Surveys Teachers on Patio Homes Plan

WINNSBORO (Sept. 1, 2016) – Following an update by Dr. J.R. Green, Superintendent, at the beginning of the Aug. 16 School Board meeting concerning his proposal last month that the School District construct and rent out patio homes to teachers, School Board member William Frick (District 6) suggested the District first survey teachers who have left the District to determine whether, if those teachers had had viable housing options, it would have kept them from leaving the District. Frick said a survey might determine if there’s a demonstrated need for teacher housing and if it would be helpful for teacher retention.

“That’s an interesting point,” Green said. And last week he followed up with a survey, but to current teachers, not to teachers who have left the District as Frick suggested. The surveys were email generated to individual teachers from the District office.

Green said in the July meeting that he had spoken with the County’s strategic planners who thought providing housing for teachers was a great idea.

David Gjertson, a planner with Landscape Architecture/Urban Design, told The Voice that while he liked Green’s idea of using housing as an incentive, he would like to see it broadened to include other Fairfield County public employees as well – fire fighters and EMS employees, for instance.

He also questioned how the project would be funded. Gjertson told The Voice that he would like to see a combination of public and private funding including federally subsidized funding rather than the traditional funding that Green initially suggested.

Gjertson also said he would rather see the program based on home ownership instead of patio home rentals to avoid the appearance of public housing. Gjertson also said, most importantly, that the project be developer driven.

“We are not advocating public housing,” Gjertson said. “We are advocating home ownership, and for a broader group of County employees.”

Green further clarified the project, saying, “We are in the research phase (of the proposal). We don’t have all the details worked out yet. A lot of issues I will be working on. I had a conversation with (State Education Superintendent) Molly Spearman last week about some assistance from the state to make this vision become a reality.”

Green included some documentation in the Board’s packet of similar projects in North Carolina. He said he is looking at how some of those are being funded.

“There are more options that we are exploring to make this a reality,” Green said. “When I have all the details I will present it to the Board as an action item to be approved.”

Board member Paula Hartman (District 2) asked Green if the school could legally finance the project with school funds. Green said he did not know.

Bus Driver Pay Increase

“Some have asked what it will cost the School District for the 3.2 percent pay raise the state has mandated for the District’s bus drivers (discussed at the July Board meeting),” Green said at the Aug. 16 meeting.

Green said that while most of the raise for the bus drivers will be covered by the state, he wants to also provide a 3.2 percent increase for the bus monitors, which is not covered by the state. That will bring the cost to the District to about $36,000.

“We determined we have adequate funding in the budget for that,” Green said.

Renovations of Kelly Miller

Green told the Board that renovations to Kelly Miller Elementary School would allow the portables to be removed from the campus and that a six classroom addition would alleviate overcrowding. He gave as an example that the school band now has to use the stage as a ‘practice room’ while at the same time physical education classes are being conducted in the gym.