LAURINBURG — After nearly a year of discussion, the Scotland County Schools Board of Education approved a new funding agreement with the county that will decrease the amount of funding the school district receives to a little more than $10 million.
The school board unanimously approved a two-year funding agreement during Monday’s monthly meeting. The agreement will reduce the amount of funding the county provides to the schools by $150,000 each year. The school district received $10,344,895 for 2017-18 school year, the two-year proposal would reduce that amount to $10,044,895 for the 2019-20 school year.
The county will continue to provide the school system with an additional $300,000 each year for capital projects, such as roof replacements.
The liaison committee, made up for commissioners Whit Gibson, Bob Davis and Guy McCook and school board members Jamie Sutherland, Summer Woodside and Wayne Cromartie, came up with the agreement in February and presented it to their respective boards in March.
The Scotland County Commissioners approved the two-year funding proposal at the April 2 meeting.
The arrangement supersedes the statutorily imposed school funding formula, which indexes Scotland County’s level of local school funding to the actions of other low-wealth counties, many of which are growing at a faster rate than Scotland.
The current funding between the county and the schools runs through the current school year and was reached through mediation in 2014.
In 2015-16, the school system received $10,826,612 in current expense funding from the county a number that had decreased 2.25 percent over the last two years. The school system received $10,583,013 in 2016-17 and is receiving $10,344,895 for 2017-18.
During Monday’s meeting, the school board also unanimously approved the 2018-19 school calendar, which is a mirror image of this year’s calendar with a few exceptions.
After speaking to staff members, the school district will be adding two professional development (PD) days that will be broken down into four half days. On Sept. 14 and March 15, 2019 schools that need a professional development day will be permitted to take one and will operate on a two-hour delay.
“Maybe there was one particular issue or topic that one school needed additional help in that another did not, so that would create an opportunity for more individualized professional development,” said Meredith Bounds, public information office. “Those two opportunities will be school specific.”
On Dec. 7 and April 12, 2019, schools will operate on a two-hour delay. Teachers will arrive at their normal time while students will operate on the two-hour delay schedule.
Assistant Superintendent of Auxiliary Services Larry Johnson provided the board with an update on the progress of the additions at Sycamore Lane and Laurel Hill elementary schools.
“At the Sycamore site Pad A is fully dried in which means that we can work even when it’s raining,” Johnson said. “Pad C should be completely dried in by week’s end. As far as Laurel Hill, Pad A is completely dried in they are installing plumbing and electrical.”
In construction terms, dried in means the roof, windows and doors have been installed so if there is inclement weather the interior of the building won’t get wet allowing work to continue on things like flooring, plumbing and electrical.
Johnson also gave the board a tentative timeline for the construction of the new elementary school.
“The architect felt we could fit in that time frame of starting in June and getting final approval from the Local Government Commission (LGC) in September,” he said. “I would like the bids to go out as May 1, which would put us ahead of schedule. Six weeks is standard (for bids to be out) so that would put us getting bids back the first week of June.”
In other business:
— The Scotland High School robotics team was recognized by the board for their hard work during their first year. The team has participated in two competitions and is heading to Houston today to compete in the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship. The championships begin today and run through Saturday. The robotics team, known as the ScotBotics, is comprised of ninth- through 11th-grade students.
— The school district also recognized the emergency personnel including the Laurinburg Police Department, Scotland County Sheriff’s Office, Laurinburg Fire Department, Scotland County EMS and the district’s school resource officers for their contributions to keeping the students of the district safe.
— Dr. Valerie Williams, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, gave the board an update on the district’s summer enrichment programs for rising first through fifth graders. The district’s Read to Achieve camp for rising second, third and fourth grade students and Passport to STEM will be for rising fifth graders focusing on math, science, coding and engineering. The camps will run July 9-26, additional information on sign ups and times will be provided at a later date.
The Scotland County Board of Education will meet in committee on April 23 at 5 p.m. The meeting is open to the public.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]