Although black and Hispanic children comprise a majority of the students enrolled in Greenwood County School District 50, they are, more often than not, outnumbered by their white counterparts in the district’s selective choice and magnet programs.
“I have a real concern with the socioeconomic differences,” Clay Sprouse said after he and other trustees were presented the data at Monday night’s meeting of the district’s board. “I want to see more balance.”
Cathy Chalmers, director of the magnet programs, went through slides showing the racial and gender breakdown of enrollment in the district’s different magnet and choice programs.
Whites made up a larger share of the applicants for most of the programs and were, with the exception of the sixth-grade applicants to the Arts, Communication, and Theatre Magnet School (ACTS), accepted at higher rates. Girls were more likely to apply to ACTS, while boys were more likely to apply to the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Magnet School (STEMS).
“We feel like we are really reaching out,” Chalmers said of improving diversity in the STEMS program. While more girls have been enrolling, “we still need to work on our minority population,” Chalmers said. “Not only on the acceptance, but having more of those students apply.”
“We just gotta make sure we market our programs better and have people want to be in our programs,” trustee Johanna Bishop said. “I know you all do a great job. But still I feel like we are missing some people that can really utilize these programs.”
Later in the meeting, trustees passed a $75 million budget for the district’s 2019-20 school year, up 3.9% from the year before.
David Loadholt, the district’s chief financial officer, said the change could be attributed mostly to a state-mandated 4% increase in teacher salaries and the district’s decision to extend a 4% raise to support staff.
The budget provides for the hiring of three additional teachers and one additional teacher assistant.
Loadholt added that initial calculations have the district $400,000 above projected revenues for the 2018-19 school year and $200,000 below budgeted expenses. Those numbers account for the roughly $750,000 bonus the district gave all of its employees earlier this year.
At the beginning of the meeting, board chairman David Trent introduced superintendent-elect Steve Glenn, whose term begins July 1.
In other business:
- Assistant superintendent of instruction Shirley Boyce was not present at the meeting. According to Trent, she had announced her retirement the week before.
- Trustees voted to raise fees at the Russell Technology Center, which offers courses that require costly material, such as tool kits for car repair, and to amend the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook to limit the use of out-of-school suspension. Gerald Witt, assistant superintendent of administration, said there is a statewide push to limit out-of-school suspension.