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SANTEE – The Orangeburg County School District board approved two new positions on its organizational chart on Tuesday, but some members raised concerns about the cost of the new positions and the impact on students and teachers.

Orangeburg County School Board: Resident says don’t play favorites

The new positions are director of finance and chief of student services.

"I am aware of and mindful of the cost factor, but I also believe that to have an organization run well. ... We have to have folks in place to make it work," Interim Superintendent Zona Jefferson said.

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The new district will include about 13,000 students and 1,700 employees, she said.

Jefferson said the organizational chart is a living document and can be tweaked at a later time.

"We will change it to serve as our needs," she said.

Trustees previously hired a chief of human resources, chief of auxiliary services, chief of finance, chief of curriculum and instruction and chief of staff.

They voted 5 to 3 to add the positions to the district's organizational chart.

The chief of student services will be responsible for overseeing the services that support children.

According to the organizational chart, the director of finance will report to the chief of finance.

The director of finance will make sure the district’s financial activities comply with the law and monitor cash flow and financial transactions. The director will also supervise the payroll coordinator, accounts payable, accounts receivable, fixed assets, procurement and grants.

The chief of finance will be responsible for a broader overview of the district’s financial strategies and needs, and will relay these to the superintendent and the board.

Two other changes to the chart include:

• The elevation of the district's coordinator of transportation to a director of transportation.

• Shifting the position of director of information from auxiliary services to the chief of public information services.

Voting for the changes were trustees Dr. William O'Quinn, Idella Carson, Chair Peggy James-Tyler, Mary Ulmer and the Rev. R.L. “Poppy” Brown. Voting against were Debora Brunson, Ruby Edwards and Vernell Goodwin. Vice Chair Betty Pelzer abstained from the vote.

Prior to the vote, Edwards said she thought the point of school consolidation was to reduce the number of administrative positions. The savings would then trickle down into the classroom.

"If we are so top heavy, the money won't go ... to the teachers and students," Edwards said.

Edwards said she agreed changes can and should be made, but said the chart needs to be “looked at as a whole.”

"We keep adding, not deleting," she said "We have not discussed it enough."

Brunson echoed Edwards’ concerns.

"This board adopted this organizational chart without any discussion as a board," she said. "I voted against it then and I am back at the same place now. You are asking me to take action on something that is being presented tonight without full understanding of what I am voting for. I am not prepared to do that."

Goodwin said she has a problem with adding more administrative positions at the same time that students have, “matriculated to a certain level to go to different conferences and they cannot go because the funds are not there."

"Then we want to add more top positions that are going to cost more money," Goodwin said.

If the positions are needed, then they can be added at a later date and not now, she said.

Ulmer supported Jefferson's plans.

"She knows where we need personnel," she said. "We are not going to cut from the classroom. We know that our teachers and our students are the main focus but in order for us to serve our students well, we will have to provide the services they need."

In other business:

• Trustees gave Jefferson the authority to ask an attorney about allowing Hunter-Kinard-Tyler to host a homecoming concert at the school's football stadium on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019.

If the attorney gives the matter his or her approval, the homecoming event will be considered approved.

• Trustees voted to hire 708 teachers for the inaugural school year of the new Orangeburg County School District. The teachers were recommended by the school district principals and human resource departments.

• Trustees will hold a special called meeting Tuesday, April 30 at the Santee Family Development Center at 210 Municipal Way. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. Trustees will discuss and give first reading to the school district's policy related to personnel.

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Contact the writer: gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.

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