Originally created 01/18/06

Schools consider reorganizing

AIKEN - The county school district's administrative system might be reorganized in an attempt to save money, officials said during a special meeting Tuesday.

Aiken County is divided into five areas, each with its own administrative staff that manages schools within a particular district.

But in some cases areas with smaller student populations are spending more on administrators than larger ones, said Christine Sanders, the chairwoman of the school board's Facilities Study and Utilization Committee.

For example, Area One has 40 percent of the district's students and Area Three has 19 percent. But Area Three is budgeted to spend $219,753, while Area One is budgeted $203,899, according to a committee report.

"The logical question is, if Area One can do it with almost 40 percent, do we need to continue having four additional areas, with some as low as (9) percent of the students?" Dr. Sanders said.

State Sens. Tommy Moore, D-Clearwater, and Greg Ryberg, R-Aiken, have introduced legislation in recent years to reconfigure the district, but they were unsuccessful, board Chairman John B. Bradley said.

There are concerns that residents in outlying areas of the mostly rural county would have less access to school officials than their metropolitan peers.

Any changes to the current configuration would have to be submitted by the Aiken County legislative delegation to the General Assembly, Dr. Sanders said.

Her committee examined how much each school in the district costs to operate and came up with "prototype" elementary, middle and high schools and optimal funding levels.

School choice also was reviewed. The committee attained data on how many pupils attend schools outside the area they reside in, Dr. Sanders said.

"We're just trying to put together the factual information and from there have some talking topics for discussions," Dr. Sanders said.

A second committee examined how the district can reform its vocational education program since the Education and Economic Development Act passed, Dr. Sanders said.

Frank G. Roberson, the associate superintendent for instruction, examined career options for vocational students and how to assist them in tailoring their course schedule to areas where they show a particular aptitude, Dr. Sanders said.

"It's going to require much closer working between the parents, students and the school guidance counselor," Dr. Sanders said.

Reach Nathan Dickinson at (803) 648-1395, ext. 109, or nathan.dickinson@augustachronicle.com.


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