D19 plans for new year with new member

With new board members in place, the Barnwell District 19 School Board began preparations for next school year.
The more than six-hour-long meeting began with the installation of incumbent Jameka Hagood and newcomer Carroll Jones Priester, who won election April 9.
"It was a long day, but we shared as much information as we could," said Superintendent Dr. Teresa Pope.
This included the start of developing next year's budget, which will include cuts after an audit revealed "we had to take a hatchet to our budget because we were overspending," said Pope. She blames their financial woes on reduced revenue and a miscalculation of tax revenue on this year's budget.
The board was given a preliminary list of revenue and expenditures for next year, but it was not made public. Pope said the information is preliminary and that the papers were taken back up from the board after the meeting.
They also looked over a list of cuts they could take to decrease their expenses. This was not released, but they discussed some in open session.
Pope said they hope to prevent layoffs through attrition - or not replacing employees who leave - including teaching positions, maintenance director and maybe the principal's position at Blackville-Hilda Junior High. With enrollment down at BHJH, she said it "really doesn't benefit us" to have a full-time principal. Instead, Pope said they could have the BHHS principal over both schools and possibly promote someone to an assistant principal or administrative assistant position.
Pope said she hopes these cuts will help them get back to a point where they can build up their fund balance, which was essentially depleted after transferring $962,293 from the balance to cover budget amendments.
Three readings of the budget are scheduled for April 29, May 21 and June 10.
The board also discussed their goals for the coming year, including their number one goal of student achievement.
All three principals shared how they have been working toward that goal through the use of technology, encouraging parents to have their children complete a summer packet of activities to keep their skills sharp, afterschool programs, and keeping parents updated on their child's academics through the online Parent Portal.
"We want to increase the rigor and relevance in the classroom," said BHJH Principal Ernie Dotson.
Other items discussed were their five-year facility plan, where demolishing the old middle school remains a top priority.