Hampton County School District 2 asks County Council for financial help
HAMPTON CO., SC (WTOC) -
The Hampton County School District 2 is fighting to stay alive.
The district owes $2.1 million and is asking the county to help bail them out.
This may be the first time this has happened in South Carolina.
Hampton County Council members held the first of three readings Thursday night during an emergency meeting at the County Administration Center. So far they unanimously approve the idea of helping School District 2 get back on its feet.
Hampton County School District 2 operates three schools with almost 875 students.
Since at least 2008, the district office has been struggling to balance its budget, cutting jobs and expenses.
"I'm very concerned about the education of kids, this situation, the children had nothing to do with. To me, it's actually a leadership problem," said Hampton County Councilman Dr. Roy Hollingsworth.
Hollingsworth said the county was first approached by the district about eight months ago for help and recently presented a proposal to cut $500,000 from its 2014-2015 budget.
Superintendent Dr. Beverly Gurley, who was not available for an interview, said they will aim to cut $1 million altogether.
In exchange, she hopes the council will consider taking out a $1 million loan.
But it's not just school district two this affects.
"It affects all of Hampton County, I'm deeply concerned that it put all of the residents of Hampton County at risk," added Hollingsworth.
Hampton County School District 1 Superintendent Dr. Douglas McTeer said it's a tough situation for all schools in the state, particularly rural schools, but they have managed to pay their bills.
"Their tax base is not what ours is, and that makes it tougher for them, but that being said, we don't have much of a tax base either but we were able to cut enough early in the game so it didn't quite get into that trouble," said McTeer.
If the county does vote to take out a loan, Hollingsworth said it will be contingent on the school district following a strict set of guidelines set by them.
The second reading will be on April 7 during the regular County Council meeting. Following that, the council will hold a public hearing and then the third reading.