News Archive

Week of Mar. 26, 2003

Anderson One Budget cuts could force district to increase class sizes
Commissioners discuss ballpark, smoke machine
Freedom Weekend Aloft announces concert, events
Golden Gloves competition to feature two local boxers 
Heritage Players ‘Cheaper By The Dozen’ takes the stage next week

Anderson One Budget cuts could force district to increase class sizes

By Stephanie Summerlin

Anderson School District One administrators once again painted a bleak budget picture at the March 25 board of trustees meeting.

Up against a 3.73 percent cut handed down from the state, District One will be forced to shave off millions of dollars normally earmarked for a myriad of student programs.

Dr. Reggie Christopher, District One superintendent, ran the numbers for the board as they pertained to the S.C. House budget for 2003-04. Facets of that budget affecting District One include:

• A $388.76 decrease in spending per student from the 2002-03 to 2003-04 school year. Under the House budget, base student cost would be decreased to $1,644.24 – the level of spending in 1994.

• A $2.5 million decrease in revenue gained from the state allocation from the Education Finance Act.

• Elimination of one full-day four-year-old kindergarten class in the district due to cuts in First Steps spending.

• The elimination of a $103,000 Health and Human Services block grant for preschool three and four year-olds.

According to Christopher, the district must also find funds or make cuts in order to fulfill spending increases mandated by the state, such as a step increase on salaries plus a .66 percent raise for teachers. That mandate will cost the district $529,829.

Another thing troubling Christopher is the state’s plans to cap the number of students funded statewide next year at 827,036 – numbers achieved by the 135-day point of the school year. That leaves no room for District One to grow its student population – an inevitability, the superintendent says.

“We expect to grow 303 students next year,” Christopher says. “In our calculations so far, we have not included those 303 students. If we include 50 percent of that, we would receive an additional $309,000 if they didn’t cap the total statewide weighted pupils.”

The problem, Christopher says, lies in the number of students the state currently plans to fund.

“We are supposed to get $12,081,983 based on this year’s 135-day attendance,” he says. “That does not include any growth.”

Christopher also announced to the board programs and/or positions to consider eliminating or adjusting in light of the budget shortfall. They include:

• Freezing all vacant district positions, which presently stands at five.

• Freezing a vacant speech therapist position.

• Cutting summer school and the CREATE program ($100,000 savings).

• Eliminating after-school tutoring programs at District One high schools.

• Cutting instructional supplies.

• Cutting funding for ETV taping center ($15,630) and Business Educational Partnerships ($13,288). Christopher noted that these cuts, although minor, would amount to “one teacher’s salary.”

• Cutting the number of days some employees work.

• Examining the use of EIA (Education Improvement Act) funds, namely those aimed at academic assistance and the Gifted and Talented program.

But one of the most disturbing possibilities in response to the cuts, according to the superintendent, is an increase in class sizes throughout the district. Currently at 21.5-1 for elementary schools and 23-1 for middle and high schools, numbers could climb as high as 23.5-1 for elementary and 25-1 for middle and high schools.

“I think that’s the wrong direction,” Christopher says of the rise in teacher-to-student ratios. “We certainly don’t want to go up. Our class size right now is higher than everyone around us.”

“Increasing class size is a real concern to me,” says trustee Sallie Lee. “If the ratio on paper is 22.5-1, that’s not what you usually see in the classroom. It’s usually higher.”

Christopher says the district will wait until the S.C. Senate presents its version of the 2003-04 budget before making the proposed cuts and adjustments. Trustee Steve Garrison says that in the meantime, he wants a grass roots effort in place to lobby the S.C. General Assembly.

“There are people mad in my area, and they want to know who to contact,” Garrison says. “If every school board member got five or six (people to contact their congressmen), and they got five or six, and we did that across the state, we could ask them how they’re voting on these issues and why they’re not funding education. Then maybe in five or six years we’ll have a whole new group of people in charge if we stand together. I think that’s what it’s going to take.”

Christopher agreed. “The South Carolina Legislature does not have the will to fund public education,” he says. “It’s that simple. There’s plenty of revenue out there if they would just do it.”

The superintendent pointed to one funding mechanism – property tax relief – he feels the state needs to fix.

“In terms of property tax relief money, this district is funded $1.7 million. That’s a set figure,” he says. “As more houses are built, the taxpayers, after reassessment, get back less money because there are more houses divided into that figure. Between reassessment every five years, if a new house is built, that owner gets the same (tax relief) as someone who’s been there for 30 years. You know who pays the difference between the reassessments? It comes out of school district money. Now there’s something wrong with that picture.”

He says he also hopes the Senate will reexamine a proposal shot down in the House – raising the cigarette tax to fund Medicaid. That move, Christopher says, would free up funding that could be channeled to public education.

In the meantime, Anderson One will await word from Columbia on just how much will be sliced from its budget.

“In the last two years, we have been cut $3.2 million,” Christopher says. “What that says in terms of next year’s budget is that we’ve been cut $6.4 million because we don’t have that $3.2 million for next year. We’re not going to panic, but we’ve got a tough row to hoe if spending per student stays at $1,644.”

Commissioners discuss ballpark, smoke machine

The Piedmont Public Service District Board of Commissioners discussed vandalism and improvements at the ballpark and equipment purchases during their regular monthly meeting March 17.

District Commissioners are considering placing security cameras at the ballfield/walking track to monitor activities and prevent vandalism at the facility.

Chief Butch Nichols reported that Blue Ridge Security proposed four security cameras be placed at the facility to allow monitoring. The approximate cost for the cameras will be $64 monthly with a 60 month contract. After that the District can purchase the equipment for $1.

Chief Nichols also asked Commissioners to consider establishing a policy regarding prosecuting anyone caught damaging the ballpark. After some discussion, Commissioners decided to present ideas concerning a policy at the April meeting.

Chairman Marsha Rogers also announced that a new sign had been installed at the ballpark. The new sign is made of marble and was purchased with funding from Anderson County and other individuals at no cost to the District, according to Nichols.

Chief Nichols reported to commissioners that the new Chief’s car is now in service. The recently purchased vehicle is now outfitted with lettering, emblem, radio and lights.

Nichols also told Commissioners that new awnings will be installed over the front doors of the fire department headquarters when weather permitts.

Chairman Rogers asked about extra equipment needed for the new firetrucks. Nichols responded that ISO requirements had changed and he said that he is still working on a list of needed equipment.

In other business, Commissioners unanimously approved second reading of a motion to pay doubletime to shift employees who work on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Commissioners also approved the purchase of a smoke machine and a gallon of smoke concentrate for the sewer department. The low bid for the machine was $1,400.

Chairman Rogers read a report from consultant Rusty Burns, which stated that he is working on several grants including a Parks and Recreation grant, Palmetto Pride grant, Federal Fire grant and a sewer grant. The letter also stated that Burns is to meet with delegation members on March 26 to discuss additional funding.

Chief Nichols told Commissioners he had talked with the district lawyer and John Pruitt about a pending EPA agreement.

The next meeting of the Piedmont Public Service District Board of Commissioners is scheduled for Monday April 28 at 7 p.m. First reading of the new budget is expected.

A budget workshop is scheduled for April 22 at 7 p.m.

Freedom Weekend Aloft announces concert, events

The 22nd annual Pontiac GMC Freedom Weekend Aloft promises to be four days of hot-air balloons, concerts, disc dog competitions, improved satellite stages, children’s area, great food and more.  The event is scheduled for May 23- 26 and this will be FWA’s fifth year at The Anderson Sports and Entertainment Center. 

Freedom Weekend Aloft will feature 100 of the country’s best hot-air balloonists flying daily as they compete for $40,000+ in cash and prizes.

Restaurants from across the Upstate will be available to offer some of their specialty items to those attending.

This year organizers have decided to go back to the policy of no general admission charge for the event!  

Attendees wishing to come and enjoy the 100 hot-air balloons, satellite musical areas, children’s entertainment area, amusement rides area, disc/Frisbee dog competitions and other event activities will be able to at no charge.

 This will enable families to come and enjoy the event’s featured activities on multiple days, organizers said.

“FWA’s Board of Directors feels that it is important that FWA never be cost prohibitive to anyone!”, according to chairman Fred Foster.

There are charges for certain activities such as riding amusement rides, food purchases and admission into the amphitheater for the featured concerts each evening. 

Featured concerts will be held each evening in the outdoor amphitheater.  

Organizers stressed the event’s goal again this year is to provide high quality entertainment at very low prices. 

“This event is successful in offering exceptional talent at low ticket prices due to the support of corporate sponsors,”  Foster said.

The Anderson Independent - Mail and WSSL 100 FM have partnered to bring two exciting country concerts on opening night Friday, May 23 at 8 p.m. 

Country music fans will enjoy Canadian songbird Terri Clark who has been producing hits since 1995 when her release “Better Things To Do” hit the charts.  Since that time she has continued her success with hits including “Emotional Girl”, “No Fear” and “You’re Easy On The Eyes” to list only a few.  Clark’s most recent CD, “Pain To Kill” has produced the fastest climbing single of her career with “I Just Wanna Be Mad”. 

The latest CD is a musical collection that explores the phases and realities of grown up lives. Additional hits on Clark’s recent release include “Three Mississippi” and “I Just Called To Say Good-Bye”.

Immediately following Clark will be Trace Adkins. Adkins was honored in 1997 when he received the Academy of Country Music’s Award for Best New Male Vocalist.  His latest release, Chrome, has produced hits including “I’m Trying” and “Help Me Understand”.  Adkins has a string of hits with a partial list including;  “I Left Something Turned On At Home”, “The Rest Of Mine”, “Lonely Won’t Leave Me Alone”, “Every Light In The House”, “This Ain’t No Thinkin’ Thing”, “There’s A Girl In Texas” and more.

On Sunday, May 25, STAR 103 will present legendary entertainer David Lee Roth at approximately 9:30 PM.  An opening act that has yet to be announced will perform at 8 p. m. 

Roth was the lead singer for Van Halen prior to leaving the band to pursue a solo career in 1985.  Known for his high energy performances concert goers will enjoy hearing endless hits both from Roth’s Van Halen days with hits including “Jump”, “Dance The Night Away”, “Panama”, “Hot For Teacher”, “So This Is Love”, and “Pretty Woman” to list only a few.   Hits from his solo career will include chart toppers including, “Just A Gigolo”, “Stand Up”, “California Girls”, “Yankee Rose” and “Ladies Night in Buffalo”.

On Monday, May 26, Magic 98.9 FM will present The Doobie Brothers in concert at approximately 7p.m. 

The Doobie Brothers career and successes have spanned decades with an endless lists of hits such as “China Grove”, “Long Train Runnin”, “Takin’ It To The Streets”, “Listen To The Music”, “Black Water” “Jesus Is Just Alright”, “It Keeps You Runnin”, “What a Fool Believes”, “Minute By Minute” and many, many more.

Tickets will go on sale on Monday, April 28 and can be purchased at participating BI-LO Grocery Stores and at The Box Office at The Anderson Sports and Entertainment Center. 

Advance Discounted Concert ticket sales will end on Thursday, May 22.   General Admission Tickets for concerts will be $12 per person in advance with children 6 and under admitted free.

Once the event begins May 23, general admission concert tickets will be $17, with children 6 and under admitted free.  No coolers or pets are allowed on the event grounds.

For additional information call the FWA Offices at (864) 222-0051 - Anderson or (864) 232-3700 - Greenville or visit the event’s web site at www.freedomwkend.org. 

Golden Gloves competition to feature two local boxers

Two area young men will compete in the 2003 Golden Gloves of South Carolina Boxing Event in Anderson this Saturday at Westside High School. Hosted by Fullbright’s Boxing Club of Anderson, the event will decide the annual state winners in all weight and age divisions. Winners 16 and older will advance to regional competition.

Williamston’s 25-year-old Shane Garner will compete in the Light Heavyweight Division (165-178 lbs.). A veteran of 24 fights, Garner already has two state USA Open titles and one Golden Gloves state title to his credit. He also captured a gold medal at the Georgia Games, a more advanced regional competition.

Garner maintains a full-time job at Flowers Bakery in Greenville while training seven days a week. He, his wife Beth, and their son Blair live on Traxler Avenue in Williamston. His parents, Jim and Sharon Garner, are also Williamston residents.

Sam Miller will face state competition for the first time this Saturday in the Heavyweight Division (178-201 lbs.). The 20-year-old student garnered a silver medal at the Georgia Games. He and his mother Sarah Gurley live on Camellia Circle in Williamston.

Weigh-ins for the event will take place from 4 to 5 p.m. with competition beginning at 8 p.m. General admission is $10, and ringside seats are $15. Youth 12 and under will be admitted at no charge. For additional information, contact Marshall Fullbright (864) 304-2195 or (864) 338-4096.

Heritage Players "Cheaper By The Dozen" takes the stage next week

The Heritage Players of Williamston will present Cheaper By The Dozen April 3, 4, 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m. and April 6 and 13 at 2:30 p.m. at the Pelzer Auditorium.

Set in the 1920s, the comedy/drama introduces the Gilbreth family – one whose patriarch tries to run a shipshape household despite the chaos of  having 12 headstrong children.

Lee Rogers plays Frank Gilbreth Sr., a time management guru coming to terms with having teenage daughters more interested in boys than research projects and schoolwork.

Also starring is Stephanie Summerlin as Mother, Holly Anderson as Ernestine, Chris Roberts as Frank Jr., Emily Uldrick as Anne, Rachel Moore as Martha, Thomas Fellows as Bill, Jared Fricks as Fred, Avery Owens as Dan, Lindsey Meade as Lillian, Austin Crisp as Jackie, Elizabeth Rogers as Mary and Grace Rogers as Grace.

Rounding out the cast is Sharon Crout as Miss Brill, Lisa Crisp as Mrs. Fitzgerald, Adam Cooley as Joe Scales, Robbie Moore as Larry, and Tom Joy as Dr. Burton.

Cheaper By The Dozen is directed by Lynn King, assisted by Becky Owens and Lindsey Cooley.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for seniors and children under 18. For more information, contact Lynn King, Williamston Heritage Players president, at 947-9466, or Becky Owens at 947-9624.