Clover schools plan to add more teachers, programs

May 9, 2013

The Clover school district may add more than 30 teachers and other staff in the fall if the $69 million budget is approved.

The budget proposal, presented to school board members during a workshop and public hearing Monday, does not include a tax increase, said Superintendent Marc Sosne.

“Everyone will see a decrease next year based on our budget,” Sosne said.

Included in the proposed budget is $827,000 for six teachers and one guidance counselor at Clover High School and a new course at the technical education center.

It also includes $656,000 to add four teachers at Oakridge Middle, two assistants at Crowders Creek Elementary, a teacher at Clover Middle School, and three support personnel and two assistants in special education.

“The student body has grown, so we’re asking for these enhancements to help meet their success,” said district finance director Ken Love.

School officials have said the improvements are possible because Clover budgeted carefully and carried a budget surplus in recent years. Last year, the Clover board approved more than $1 million in program expansions for the current school year, including an expanded Blue Eagle Academy, an after-school tutoring program and additional teaching positions due to enrollment growth.

Other school district enhancements include $180,000 for library upgrades, and $675,000 for five positions to maintain class sizes and to hire teachers and assistants for three more preschool classes, bringing the total number of preschool classes to 15.

“We’re very proud of our class-size ratio,” Sosne said. “We want to maintain that. Those five positions will allow us to do that quickly and easily.”

The preschool proposal will allow 60 more 4-year-old kindergarten students to enroll in the Clover program — which Sosne said will address a waiting list that has existed for the past three years.

The proposed budget includes an increase in the operating tax rate for business owners and anyone other than owner-occupied homes, but a larger decrease in the tax rate for debt service.

That means homeowners will see $40 less in taxes per $100,000 of assessed property value on their tax bill and an overall decrease in the tax rate for business owners. The amount of the decrease depends on the assessment of the business, Love said.

Also included in the budget is $300,000 for a pilot program to give tablet computers to students and teachers. The budget provides 735 devices for the pilot program called Connected Classroom.

Selected teachers will use a tablet or iPads for lessons, with each student provided a device. All schools will participate during the 2014-15 year.

Teachers weighed pros and cons of different tablet devices, with the iPad chosen for middle and elementary schools, and the high school undecided between iPad or another type of tablet, said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Sheila Huckabee.

Teachers who want to participate in the pilot program submitted applications Wednesday, and will find out May 17 if they have been accepted.

The school board also discussed district-wide fundraising and fee concerns and expectations. Board chairman Mack McCarter told the principals in the audience to ask teachers leading extracurricular activities to provide “more defined structures of the costs” involved in participating in such activities, so parents know all costs upfront.

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