Bill gives OK to staff cuts

COLUMBIA --- Aiken County's school board could shift nearly $1 million spent on five assistant superintendents to other needs under a state Senate bill approved this week.

Current law requires the district to have assistant superintendents, but the bill introduced by Aiken County Republican Sens. Greg Ryberg and Shane Massey would let the board decide whether to appoint the administrators or spend that $985,000 on other needs.

Would this mean district jobs would be lost?

"It's too early to tell," said Deputy Superintendent David Caver. He declined to say whether he supported the bill, S. 442.

The district, which has nearly 25,000 K-12 students, has the sixth-largest enrollment in the state. It has a superintendent, a deputy superintendent, two associate superintendents and five assistant superintendents.

Mr. Caver cautioned against expecting a direct savings.

"Just because you do away with the area configuration doesn't necessarily mean you'll realize the savings in it," he said. "Granted, that's a possibility, but is that best for the district?"

Mr. Ryberg has introduced the legislation nearly half a dozen times but had never gathered the support of his Senate colleagues until this year.

The bill will go to Aiken County's House delegation for approval and must be signed by the governor.

"Superintendent (Beth) Everitt, other district employees and many teachers communicate with me regularly, and they all say the same thing: 'We need funding flexibility,' " Mr. Ryberg said in a statement.

Mr. Caver said district officials did not drive the bill.

"No, we haven't asked for this in particular," he noted.

Reach Sarita Chourey at (803) 727-4257 or sarita.chourey@morris.com.