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No outrage from parents over Fort Mill school cuts

Exactly two weeks after the Fort Mill school board announced it would have to cut 27 teachers next year because the district will have less money, this is how many parents expressed outrage at Monday night's school board meeting:

Zero.

The only person to speak was a woman named Lisa McCarley, a Fort Mill Middle School parent who, along with other parents, wants to establish an athletic board in the schools that might keep middle school sports alive next year.

Middle school sports, along with 47 jobs that include those 27 teachers, were among the $5.5 million in budget cuts for 2010-2011 given preliminary approval by the board on March 8.

The school board and administration, in response to state funding cuts, want the district's foundation to establish a "grassroots" campaign to pressure state legislators to change the way schools are funded.

"We all know our schools are one of the best in the state - if not the country," board member Diane Dasher said.

No argument from me, a Fort Mill parent of three kids in the schools, but here's what was not mentioned specifically Monday night.

Certainly, the state cut the money, but it is the Fort Mill school board that voted to make the specific cuts. And nobody Monday night asked for more information or for another solution. The board just wants you, the public, to raise a stink with legislators.

The school district called what it did to teachers furloughs - five days for teachers and 10 days for administrators.

But let's call furloughs what they really are - a pay cut.

And then there are all the staff cuts and reassignments: Math specialists for middle school kids, special education teachers for the most vulnerable, the gifted and talented teachers for the very brightest elementary students, and the few teachers for teaching the least prepared children basic reading and letter/number skills before kindergarten.

Class sizes will go up. Period. There will be more kids in every class, fighting for the attention of a teacher who got a pay cut. Remember, this is supposed to be a model for the state and nation.

Those 27 teachers who won't have jobs got cut, not furloughed. Cut means fired.

School board Chairman Pat White told Monday's quiet crowd of more than 100 people that the school district itself cannot lobby the state to change the funding laws. The district wants to form a "Keep Our Schools Strong" committee, just like the one formed three years ago to sell the bonds for new schools and a new football stadium.

One of those new schools taxpayers agreed to pay for, a middle school, will not open next year because the district does not have the money to operate it. The stadium is long open. It hosted a full slate of games last fall.

The parents of middle schoolers who can't travel to Clover to play soccer are now complaining and trying to save sports. Meanwhile, in the last two years, reading recovery teachers and math specialists in those same middle schools got fired.

McCarley wants to start a "not-for-profit middle schools sports program." I applaud her courage. At least she wants a booster club to save sports.

But where is the booster club for the special education students who will lose teachers?

Where is the booster club for those vulnerable kids who won't have early childhood teachers next year in the LEAP program?

Where is the booster club for the gifted and talented kids?

There is no booster club for them.

Or for math. Or for reading. Or for the poor.

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Fort Mill schools budget cuts

Here is how the Fort Mill school board plans to cut $5.5 million out of the schools' 2010-2011 budget:

Administrative contract days reduced - $24,446

Athletic and band fees ($100 per activity) - $159,161

Athletic insurance premiums - $40,000

District office staff - $111,351

District school-to-work coordinator - $58,000

District social worker - $75,737

Elementary assistant principal - $ 89,439

Elementary gifted/talented program restructure - $806,552

Extracurricular activities - $344,166

Field trips - charge mileage rate for bus use - $50,000

Fort Mill Academy - 2 positions - $146,450

Furloughs - 5 days teachers/10 days administration - $1,414,753

Instructional fees increase to $25 - $50,000

Larger class sizes - $396,500

LEAP Ahead program - $214,663

Maintenance department position - $54,148

Math specialists at middle schools - $183,000

Middle school industrial technology, reduce contract days - $9,313

National Board local supplement - $390,876

OEC membership dues - $31,417

Parking lot attendants at high schools - $26,872

Professional development funds - $114,060

School office staff - $44,356

School supply allocations, 40 percent reduction - $408,000

Special education staffing - $86,194

Special education psychologists and behavior specialist, reduce contractdays - $45,892

Technology software - $60,000

Testing programs, MAP and Testview - $58,748

TOTAL SAVINGS - $5,494,094.00

Not included in that total:

Special education positions reduced (federal stimulus funds) - $368,712

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