Darlington schools face more cuts

Darlington, SC - By Brandon Herring - bio | email

DARLINGTON, SC (WMBF) – After deciding to cut 40 teacher positions for the 2010-2011 school year, the Darlington County School Board continues to consider other ways to make cuts in the budget.

The school district expects more than $6.3 million in funding shortages and cost increases for the coming budget year.

The elimination 40 teaching positions will save the school district slightly more than $2.5 million. However, the cuts mean a increase in the number of students in some classrooms.

"The real thing in terms of that is not the size of the class but the quality of the teacher," District spokeswoman Audrey Childers said. "You can have exceptional teachers that can teach a class that's large just as well as teach a class that's small."

The school board is also considering several other cost-saving measures. The most significant option is furlough days for administrators and teachers, which would save more than $867,000 in the budget.

Childers said the board is trying to make cuts that will not affect students in the classroom, but that is not entirely possible. She said board members consider the effect on students with every decision, and they are working to figure out which cuts would have the least impact on students.

"It's difficult to watch, and I'm terribly glad I'm not in their shoes making these decisions," Childers commented. "As one board member put it we are essentially dismantling the programs we've worked so hard to build."

The school board had hoped to increase funding coming to the school district by increasing property taxes. However, the state's property tax relief act, Act 388, will not allow that option currently.

The school board will discuss the budget again at their meeting in May. Two public hearings will follow before the budget is finalized in June.

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