D29 looks at options to select new leader

The Williston District 29 School Board has five options for selecting a new superintendent.

The district has been without a permanent superintendent since the resignation of Dr. Missoura Ashe in September. Interim Superintendent Dr. Everette Dean Jr. said the board can either promote a current District 29 employee, conduct its own search, employ a search firm, employ the S.C. School Boards Association, or employ a headhunter.

“In all of them the board makes the ultimate decision,” said Dean during the board’s Nov. 20 meeting.

No action was taken regarding which route they want to take.

Dean said he’s met with the director of instruction and the principals to discuss strengths and weaknesses. He has also spent time looking at the organization of the district and finance to see “how we can be as effective and economical as possible.”

Audit Results

David Enzastiga from the Rish & Enzastiga Firm presented the district’s draft audit report for the 2017 fiscal year, which ended June 30.

District 29’s general fund, which is the principal operating fund, had $7,451,966 in revenue, which is less than the $7,629,672 they budgeted. Enzastiga said this is primarily due to less local and state taxes being collected. Meanwhile, District 29’s expenditures came in at $7,814,285. This was $25,879 less than budgeted, according to the audit.

“The results from the revenue, expenditures and other financing sources/uses caused the fund balance to decrease by $147,502,” states the audit report.

Despite the decrease, Enzastiga said the district has a fund balance of $1,557,855, which is enough money to cover 2.4 months’ worth of expenses. This is within the recommended amount that school districts and other public bodies are encouraged to maintain.

The food service fund ended the year with a net income of $6,344, which is better than the previous year when they had a net loss of $64,413.

The district issued two general obligation bonds during year – $382,000 and $405,000 – for capital projects at the schools. They retired $382,000 in principal, which left $405,000 in general obligation debt at the end of the fiscal year. The debt service fund balance increased from $81,606 to $106,381.

No findings or questioned costs were found, said Enzastiga.

Finance

Rose Anderson, the district’s director of finance, said the district had $379,391.29 in revenue and $708,783.67 in expenditures for October. Comparing this to the same timeframe last year, she said tax collections are up by 2 percent while expenses are down by 1.10 percent.

“This is the right track to be on,” she said.

Chairwoman Ferlecia Cuthbertson said she would like to hold a budget workshop soon. Anderson said she would work on some dates.

In other news:

• Following a closed session to discuss employment matters, the board emerged after an hour and 40 minutes to conditionally accept the superintendent’s recommendation to immediately dismiss “Employee A”. No name was provided, but the employee is a “continuing contract educator”. The motion to dismiss the employee stated it was due to reasons set forth in a Nov. 14 letter. The People-Sentinel has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to try to learn more information.

• The board approved the second and final reading of Policy JFABF (Students in Foster Care), which will “better serve our students in foster care,” said Dr. Tasha Louis-Nance, director of student and special services.

• Williston-Elko High School Principal Alison Brady recognized several students, including Catherine Arbogast, Maleek Battle, Alyssa Brown, Ansley Sweat and Maya Watkins for being the October Students of the Month. Coy Johnson was recognized as the Rotary Student of the Month for November due to helping with breast cancer awareness ribbons. Also, Elaysha Brown was recognized for mentoring a middle school student who was being bullied.

• The Aiken Standard presented a check to the high school. The newspaper filmed a football game earlier this year and donated a portion of the profits from advertisements to the school.