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Rock Hill school board set to vote on cuts Monday

Rock Hill schools Superintendent Lynn Moody will find out Monday night whether to move ahead with a plan to cut nearly $10 million in spending by slashing programs and laying off employees.

The school board is scheduled to vote on Moody's proposal, which would eliminate nearly 100 jobs, roughly half of which would come through layoffs, and pass on the cost of running certain programs to students' families.

"It's not a meeting I'm looking forward to," said school board member Walter Brown, who plans to vote for Moody's plan. "This will be the hardest vote that I've had to cast."

Some of the proposed cuts, such as trimming salaries for working retirees and sending employees on unpaid leave, hinge on whether the state Legislature renews a law relieving schools from certain mandates.

Board approval of Moody's plan wouldn't prevent district officials from making other cuts when they craft a budget over the summer.

Also, there's a chance that the district might face an even greater shortfall than expected - $12 million - if the state curbs spending as deeply as some think it might.

If that happens, Moody has a contingency plan that would eliminate academic coaches, assistant principals and school resource officers.

School systems across the nation are considering unprecedented cutbacks as tax revenue that pays for public education dries up in the recession.

Hawaii shortened its school year by 17 days. The Kansas City system plans to close 28 schools.

In Fort Mill, school district officials are considering program cuts, pay-to-play sports and layoffs to make up for an expected $5.5 million shortfall. The school board there could vote on a plan later this month.

Moody described Monday's meeting as a potential end to "phase one" of a three-phase plan to survive on less money.

The next step, she said, will be to craft a budget. Then the district, which spent just under $128 million last school year, will start planning for the 2010-2011 school year, when federal stimulus money runs out.

Moody, who has called working on the "financial crisis plan" her "darkest hour" professionally, said she didn't think anything could be worse than coming up with the cuts.

But, she said, she quickly realized "the worst part will be implementing the plan."

School board's plan

To make up for an expected shortfall of nearly $10 million, Rock Hill schools Superintendent Lynn Moody has proposed a plan that would:

Send employees on unpaid leave: Five days for teachers and 10 days for all other employees, which the law requires of districts that furlough (Saves approximately $2.25 million).

Eliminate 34 teaching jobs ($2.05 million).

Trim the district's 108 working retirees' salaries by 15 percent, a decrease from Moody's first proposal to cut those salaries by 20 percent ($1 million).

Eliminate 31 teaching assistant jobs ($800,000).

Cut $3,000 bonus given to teachers who earn certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the profession's top credential ($800,000).

Downsize the operations department, affecting about 70 employees, with job cuts and shorter work schedules ($500,000).

Eliminate middle school elective courses, cutting seven jobs ($427,000).

Eliminate an unspecified number of administrator jobs and district office jobs ($400,000).

Charge families a $25 "instructional fee" when they enroll children in school ($225,000).

Charge students $350 to take driver's education. This option could change if the state lets schools opt out of offering driver's education ($200,000).

Cut security money from high schools, eliminating three jobs and clipping salary supplements for about 25 others ($150,000).

Eliminate middle schools' five media assistant jobs ($140,000).

Cut attendance incentives for bus drivers who get $50 for driving 25 consecutive days and $200 for 40 days ($80,000).

Charge students a $25 fee to play sports ($75,000).

Stop giving the high school marching bands $25,000 each ($75,000).

Want to go?

The Rock Hill school board will meet at 6 p.m. Monday at the district’s central office, 660 N. Anderson Road.

“It’s not a meeting I’m looking forward to. This will be the hardest vote that I’ve had to cast.”

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