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COPE -- Orangeburg Consolidated School District 4 will not see an increase in debt service taxes in its final year as a separate school district.

Financial adviser Bob Damron told trustees during a recent workshop that consolidation legislation will not allow the three individual districts to issue general obligation bonds for debt service as they’ve done in the past. Instead, the payments will have to come from the general fund, and only an emergency will allow them to issue the bonds.

Official: Teachers, principals will keep jobs under Orangeburg County school consolidation

On the other hand, operations taxes will go up 3.4 mills.

District 4 has two lease technology payments totaling $448,000, due in December, which have to come from the general fund, Damron said.

The final lease payment, due in December 2019, will transfer to the new consolidated district, which begins on July 1, 2019, he said. The new district will meet all obligations from the three districts after that date.

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District 4 doesn’t have a lot of debt, Damron noted. It has obligations coming due in 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2027.

He praised the board for the way it has handled the district’s money over the past 20 plus years.

“Ya’ll have done a great job of managing,” Damron said. “You’ve always been very frugal with your expenditures. It’s been an honor to work with you.”

Director of Finance Rebecca Grubbs noted that the district will finish the year with an overage of $448,000 in debt service and asked if the money could be transferred to operations.

Damron said the money will have to stay in debt service and will roll over to the new district.

All pots of money from the three districts, including general funds, money from the Abbeville rural school funding lawsuit and project fund money, will transfer to the new district, the financial adviser said.

Damron said he is recommending that the district use all its Abbeville money this year, and Grubbs told him District 4’s Abbeville money had already been spent in the construction of a new roof at Edisto High School. She also said the trustees are looking at making additional capital improvements with other funds.

In other business, Assistant Superintendent Ernest Holliday reported that at the time of the meeting, the district still had nine certified positions to fill. They included a Project Lead the Way instructor at the Cope Area Career Center, a band director at Hunter-Kinard-Tyler and a science and media specialist at Carver-Edisto Middle School.

Interim Superintendent Dr. Lana Williams said the Project Lead the Way teacher had left employment in the district to work in the private sector. The district could not find a certified individual to fill the slot, but will use teachers from Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College for the pre-engineering courses, she said.

The salary set aside for the PLTW instructor will be used to pay the OCtech teachers, Williams said.

Hunter-Kinard-Tyler has been without a band director for two years, according to Holliday.

It has been extremely hard to find someone to take the position, whether that's caused by HKT’s rural location or something else, Williams noted. Three individuals have already considered the job, but nobody worked out, she said.

At this point, plans are to hire someone fulltime at Carver-Edisto, which will free Dr. Ophelia Darby to work with the kids at HKT, Williams said. Darby is currently the band director at Edisto High School and Carver-Edisto and is more than willing to take on the HKT band, she said.

According to Williams, no one would be a better choice to work with the kids at HKT than Darby.

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