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Rock Hill schools may face another $2 million in cuts

Rock Hill schools' plan to cut $10million in spending next school year by gouging programs and eliminating jobs might not be enough.

If the state's proposed budget is approved by the Senate, the district would be about $12 million short - which could mean more cuts.

In addition to a 30-item list of scaled-back programs and job eliminations titled "Definite -Immediate Action," Superintendent Lynn Moody has devised a second list, "Probable - Drastic Worst Case Actions."

Moody hoped that plan, which would eliminate academic coaches, assistant principals and school resource officers, wouldn't be necessary.

But now it could be.

In their last meeting before voting on Moody's proposed plan, Rock Hill school board members heard the news about the steeper shortfall and weighed in on how to trim spending.

"Why cut all bus drivers' incentives to come to work?" board Chairman Bob Norwood said, referring to a proposal to end bonuses given to bus drivers, who get $50 for driving 25 consecutive days and $200 for 40 days. "Why not half?"

Norwood also argued to continue giving at least a $1,500 annual bonus to teachers who have earned certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the profession's top credential. Moody's proposal would cut the entire $3,000 bonus.

Although he didn't elaborate, board member Walter Brown suggested taking another look at scaling back the number of assistant principals at elementary schools and "program teachers," who are second in command at elementaries without an assistant principal.

"There are things on that second page that we maybe need to look at," Brown said, referring to Moody's secondary list, which amounts to about $2.6 million in cuts.

Board member Jim Vining praised Moody.

"I was probably one of the biggest critics last year of the budgeting process," he said. This year, "I admire what she's done ... The district is better off for that."

Vining also said the district should keep as a priority literacy programs that target struggling readers.

"If you can't read, you can't do math," he said. "You can't read word problems. You can't function."

Moody also discussed two changes to her plan:

Elementary school foreign language should not be entirely eliminated as previously proposed, she told the board. She recommended keeping the courses at three schools and allowing students to transfer to one of them.

Sunset Park Center for Accelerated Studies would offer German next school year. Two other elementaries, yet to be named, would offer Spanish. However, students from outside those schools' attendance area wouldn't be able to apply to attend until the 2011-12 school year.

Rosewood Elementary also would keep its foreign language class because it's a required part of the school's International Baccalaureate program.

The district's strings and orchestra program likely will be spared. While Moody originally proposed cutting the $15,000 spent on the program, she has changed her mind.

School officials also elaborated on how the district plans to scale back Reading Recovery, an intensive one-on-one literacy program for first-graders who struggle with reading.

Ten of the 27 Reading Recovery jobs in the district could be eliminated. The other 17 are presumably safe because those salaries are covered by federal money intended to support such programs.

The district is exploring other ways to help struggling readers at schools that lose Reading Recovery.

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Rock Hill schools' possible additional budget cuts

Rock Hill schools Superintendent Lynn Moody hoped her back-up plan to cut spending wouldn’t be necessary. But a shortfall of $12 million next school year could mean that some of these options are adopted. Here’s how much each would save:

Cut elementary assistant principals, ($630,000).

Cut elementary program teachers, ($560,000).

Eliminate middle school instructional coaches, ($350,000).

Have employees obtain health and dental insurance with S.C. Retirement System, ($300,000).

Reduce number of home school workers, ($171,000).

Cut high school secretaries and support staff, ($120,000).

Reduce high school assistant principals’ days at work, ($110,000).

Eliminate academic coaches, ($104,000).

Reduce number of school resource officers in middle schools, ($75,000).

Reduce middle school assistant principals’ days at work, ($75,000).

Reduce high school guidance counselors’ days, ($67,000).

Consolidate high schools’ International Baccalaureate program, ($20,400).

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