Money puts Pee Dee teachers' jobs in danger

LAKE CITY, SC (WMBF) - Leaders from Florence School District 3 were denied a waiver to forgo giving teachers a raise. The district cut 24 jobs this year and more teachers' jobs may be on the line.

They say additional job cuts could be prevented if the State Board of Education allowed them to waive giving teachers a raise. The District presented before the Board on October 10

"Is the raise really worth other teachers losing their jobs?" said Glenn Matthews, a seventh grade teacher at Ronald E. McNair Middle School.

He was one of the many district teachers who volunteered to give up their pay raises. Matthews says there were three budget meetings last spring. He says teachers only gave support of waiving their raises. "If we have to let teachers go, it's going to increase classroom sizes," Matthews explained. "And right now our classrooms are 25-30 plus."

District 3 Superintendent Dr. Keith Callicut says what he calls the district's "financial crisis" began in 2008.The district had $5 million in it's reserve fund which comes from local tax dollars. It's used for emergencies such a roof caving in or trying to prevent job cuts.

"We have chosen to use that fund balance over the last four or five years rather than making some really difficult cuts. So basically in my mind we've put off doing the inevitable until we absolutely had to," said Dr. Callicutt.

Dr. Callicut says the reserve fund is almost gone. He says the district could have saved $183,000 this year by waiving teachers' raises. That sum of money equals out to three teachers' salaries.

Dr. Callicut says if the additional funding isn't there it could mean cutting three teacher jobs in the future.

"Either we come up with additional savings this school year or come up with additional funding,"Dr. Callicutt said.

"I made a comment to the board that we have increasing our enrollment so we do know we will increase our funding from the state to some degree."

Dr. Callicutt says other districts in the Pee Dee were allowed to waive giving pay raises in the past two years. This month, he says two other schools applied for the waiver and only one was approved.

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