School News

Clarendon County School District answers questions regarding budget

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The Manning Times recently submitted a full list of questions regarding the FY 2022-2023 budget that was approved by the Board of Trustees at last Thursdays meeting. These questions were answered by Superintendent Shawn Johnson. Here, presented in a Question and Answer format, are the answers given for these questions. Also included is the letter The Manning Times received from Dr. Johnson.

“As you may be aware, the Board was appointed last year to begin the process of consolidating Clarendon 2 and Clarendon 4 into a county-wide school district. In selecting leadership for the consolidated district, the Board believed that having someone knowledgeable about the community would ensure a smooth transition. To that end, the Board invited me along with Dr. Angela Bain to submit letters of interest to serve as Superintendent for the consolidated district. In response to the invitation, I submitted a letter of interest and Dr. Bain submitted a letter informing the board that she was not interested in the position. After an interview and sharing my vision for consolidation, the Board appointed me Superintendent for the consolidated District. 

As the consolidation began taking shape, the Board started the process of staffing the consolidated district, beginning with district-level positions. To facilitate the staffing of the consolidated district, the Board provided each administrator in Clarendon 2 and 4 the opportunity to update their personnel file and submit a letter of interest for certain District level positions. After conducting interviews, the Board decided to fill the below listed positions and selected qualified persons to serve in these roles to prepare to serve the students of the County. Below are the annual salaries for these positions and the line items of these amounts in the proposed budget:”

BOARD OF EDUCATION

The Manning Times: The following district level employees were an- nounced. What is their annual salary and what line item are these amounts included in the budget?

Executive Director or Administration

Director of Secondary Education

Director of Elementary Education

Director of Personnel

Director of Finance

Director of Operations

Director of Student Services

Director of Athletics

Superintendent Shawn Johnson: 

Executive Director - $157,000 (223-110)

Director of Secondary Education - $108,022 (221-110)

Director of Elementary Education - $110,028 (221-110)

Director of Personnel - $120,652 (264-110)

Director of Finance - $123,077 (252-180)

Director of Operations - $120,720 (254-180)

Director of Student Services - $124,802 (223-110)

Director of Athletics - $123,077 (114-110;223-110)

In the budget, $932,257 is budgeted for Group Health/ Life Insurance. Does this mean that the School Board is receiving health and life insurance being paid by the district? If so, is it employee only, or family coverage? If family coverage, is the family coverage paid for by the district? Why is the bud- geted amount so high? By comparison, less than $3 million is budgeted for the entirety of the rest of the district. Are there other employees included in this line item? If so, how many?

The Board does not receive fringe benefits. The fringe percentage has been corrected to reflect “0” for the part-time employee in this line item.

In the budget, $66,600 is budgeted for Board Member Stipend. Per the consolidation legislation, each board member is to receive $450 per month. If board members are receiving stipends higher than $450 per month, how much are board members receiving?

Board compensation is established by Board Policy BID. After review, the amount set in the policy exceeded the allowable amount provided in the legislation. The proposed budget will be amended to reflect the change and steps will be taken to collect any overpayments to the district.

[Editors Note: It is important that readers are aware of a change that was made at last Thursdays meeting. Board member Alex Craven made a motion that all Board members receive a lower stipend until the overpayments have been given back to the District]

There is $60,000 budgeted for Board of Education travel. What events does the board plan to attend?

The budget amount for Board travel is for the Board to attend and participate in board trainings and conferences. 

We assume under “Regular Salaries” that this is a Board Secretary and this is a $25,000 stipend being paid for those duties. Does this employee hold another position within the district? If so, what position?

This line item reflects a stipend for the Board secretary who also serves as the Superintendent’s secretary. The additional compensation is for a part-time transitional employee.

STUDENT TRANSPORTATION

Is the “Regular salaries” line item the Transportation director’s salary? Is this one person over the whole district or multiple people in different schools?

This line item reflects the salaries of two transportation directors that will serve Clarendon County.

Information Services

Is the “Regular salaries” line item the IT director’s salary? Is this one person over the whole district or multiple people throughout the different schools?

This line item includes multiple employees for Public Relations and is not related to Information Technology.

Proviso 1.88

There is $2.15 million per budget in Proviso 1.88 funding, how will these monies be spent? Capital or operations? If capital, what specific capital improvements is this money being used for?

Due to the fiscal emergency declared in Clarendon 4 for failure to complete audits in a timely manner, the amount and use of the funding cannot be determined at this time.

[Editor’s Note: Johnson provided supporting documentation for this answer, and the letter, from State of South Carolina Department of Education CFO Nancy Williams, follows in it’s entirety.]

Dear Dr. Bain and Mrs. Marshall [District 4 Board Chair],

The Fiscal Practices Act, under which the State Superintendent has declared a state of emergency in Clarendon 4, requires the South Carolina Department of Education to provide technical assistance. Although Clarendon 4 has provided a plan and responded to questions concerning the plan, the State Superintendent continues to find the plan unacceptable to ensure a smooth transition into consolidation. Moreover, she believes that the district needs additional day-to-day staffing and oversight of fiscal functions to complete the audits and close out finances properly prior to consolidation. Delays in engaging auditors and providing documentation to auditors are two examples. More recently a response indicated documents were not uploaded to auditors “for lack of manpower to upload it into the auditor’s portal.” Some of the responses also raise concerns about whether stander finance functions, such as bank reconciliations, are being done in a timely manner. 

Clarendon 2 has agreed to provide this assistance on the SCDE’s behalf. Dr. Johnson will be assigning staff to Clarendon 4 as technical assistance to oversee and assist with finance operations of the district. Please provide those Clarendon 2 staff with access to the systems, records, reports, and available Clarendon 4 staff necessary to complete all financial functions in Clarendon 4. The Superintendent expects Clarendon 4 staff and contractors fully to cooperate and coordinate for the benefit of the districts and the students.

FE DuBOSE

The district is now the fiscal agent for FE DuBose Career Center. What was the net effect to the bud- get of this change? How did this affect revenues and expenses? What percentage of the FE Dubose costs is the district responsible for?

The District is still gathering information at this time.

DISTRICT FUND

This budget calls for using almost $1.3 million of the district’s fund balance. What is the beginning fund balance for the district? What is the expected ending fund balance for the year?

The beginning fund balance for Clarendon 2 for the 2021-2022 fiscal year was $4,273,406. The ending fund balance will not be determined until after the 2021-2022 audit is completed, which is due in December. The fund balance for Clarendon 4 is not known at this time as the County District is gathering this information as  part of the technical assistance provided as a result of the declaration of fiscal emergency.

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