Duties and functions

Clarendon County School District Responds to Budget Questions

By Jake McElveen

The Manning Times recently submitted a comprehensive list of questions regarding the 2022-2023 fiscal year budget which was approved by the board at last Thursday’s meeting. These questions were answered by Superintendent Shawn Johnson. Here, presented in the form of questions and answers, are the answers given to these questions. Also included is the letter The Manning Times received from Dr Johnson.

“As you may know, the council was appointed last year to begin the process of consolidating Clarendon 2 and Clarendon 4 into one county-wide school district. When selecting leaders for the consolidated district, the board felt that having someone familiar with the community would ensure a smooth transition. To that end, the Board has invited me and 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 of my vision for consolidation, the board appointed me superintendent of the consolidated district.

As the consolidation began to take shape, the board began the process of staffing the consolidated district, beginning with district-level positions. To facilitate staffing of the Consolidated District, the Board has given each Clarendon 2 and 4 trustee the opportunity to update their personnel file and submit a letter of interest for certain District-level positions. After conducting interviews, the board has decided to fill the positions listed below and has selected qualified individuals to fill these roles in order to prepare to serve students in the county. Below are the annual salaries for these positions and the line items of these amounts in the proposed budget:

EDUCATION COUNCIL

The Manning Times: The following district-level employees have been announced. What is their annual salary and where are these amounts included in the budget?

Executive Director or Administration

Director of Secondary Education

Director of Primary Education

Personnel director

Finance director

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)

Personnel Director – $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)

Athletic Director – $123,077 (114-110;223-110)

In the budget, $932,257 is provided for group health/life insurance. Does this mean that the school board receives district-paid health and life insurance? If so, is it employee coverage or family coverage? If it is family coverage, is family coverage supported by the district? Why is the budgeted amount so high? By comparison, less than $3 million is budgeted for the entire rest of the district. Are there other employees included in this position? If yes how much?

The council does not receive benefits. The marginal percentage has been corrected to reflect “0” for the part-time employee in this position.

In the budget, $66,600 is provided for the board members allowance. According to consolidation legislation, each board member must receive $450 per month. If council members receive stipends greater than $450 per month, how much do they receive?

Board compensation is established by BID Board Policy. Upon review, the amount set out in the policy exceeded the authorized amount provided for in the legislation. The proposed budget will be modified to reflect the change and steps will be taken to collect any overpayments from 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]

A budget of $60,000 is provided for school board travel. What events does the board plan to attend?

The budget amount for council travel is for council to attend and participate in council trainings and conferences.

We assume under “Regular Salaries” that this is a secretary to the board of directors and that this is a $25,000 stipend paid for these duties. Does this employee hold another position within the district? If so, what position?

This position reflects an allowance for the Secretary of the Board who also serves as Secretary to the Superintendent. The additional compensation is for a part-time transition employee.

STUDENT TRANSPORTATION

Does the item “regular salaries” correspond to the salary of the director of transport? Is it one person in the whole district or several people in different schools?

This position reflects the salaries of two transportation managers who will serve Clarendon County.

Information Services

Does the line “Regular salaries” correspond to the salary of the IT manager? Is it one person in the whole district or several people in the different schools?

This line item includes several employees for public relations and is not related to information technology.

Condition 1.88

There is $2.15 million per budget in Requirement 1.88 funding, how will these funds be spent? Capital or operations? If it is capital, what specific capital improvements is this money 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 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 declared a state of emergency at Clarendon 4, requires the South Carolina Department of Education to provide technical assistance. Although Clarendon 4 provided a plan and answered questions regarding the plan, the State Superintendent continues to find the plan unacceptable to ensure a smooth transition to consolidation. Additionally, she believes the district needs additional day-to-day staff and oversight of tax functions to complete audits and properly close finances prior to consolidation. Delays in engaging auditors and providing documentation to auditors are two examples. More recently, a response indicated that the documents had not been uploaded to auditors “due to lack of manpower to upload them to the auditor portal”. Some of the responses also raise concerns about whether standard financial functions, such as bank reconciliations, are performed in a timely manner.

Clarendon 2 has agreed to provide this assistance on behalf of SCDE. Dr. Johnson will assign staff to Clarendon 4 as technical assistance to oversee and assist with district financial operations. Please provide Clarendon 2 personnel with access to Clarendon 4 systems, records, reports and available personnel necessary to perform all financial functions of Clarendon 4. The Superintendent expects personnel and sub- Clarendon 4 contractors cooperate and coordinate fully for the benefit of the districts. and students.

FE DuBOSE

The district is now the fiscal agent for the FE DuBose Career Center. What was the net effect on the budget of this change? How has this affected income and expenses? What percentage of FE Dubose costs is the district responsible for?

The District is still collecting information at this time.

DISTRICT FUNDS

This budget calls for the use of nearly $1.3 million of the District’s fund balance. What is the starting fund balance for the district? What is the projected fund balance at the end of the year?

The initial fund balance for Clarendon 2 for the 2021-2022 fiscal year was $4,273,406. The final balance of the fund will only be determined after the end of the 2021-2022 audit, which is due to take place in December. The fund balance for Clarendon 4 is not known at this time as the county district collects this information as part of the technical assistance provided following the declaration of a budgetary emergency.