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H 5070
Session 112 (1997-1998) 

H 5070 General Bill, By Altman
 A BILL TO CREATE SEVEN INDEPENDENT AND AUTONOMOUS SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN
 CHARLESTON COUNTY, EACH DISTRICT TO BE GOVERNED BY A SEVEN-MEMBER BOARD TO BE
 ELECTED IN THE GENERAL ELECTION BEGINNING IN 2000, TO DEVOLVE THE POWERS AND
 DUTIES OF THE CHARLESTON COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD AND CONSTITUENT BOARDS UPON THESE
 DISTRICTS AND THEIR RESPECTIVE BOARDS; TO ESTABLISH THE COUNCIL OF BOARD
 CHAIRMEN FOR EDUCATIONAL SERVICES TO PROVIDE CERTAIN SUPPLIES AND SERVICES TO
 THE DISTRICTS WITH THE AUTHORITY TO LEVY TAXES FOR OPERATING COSTS; TO
 CONDITION THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THESE DISTRICTS AND THEIR RESPECTIVE BOARDS ON
 A REFERENDUM TO BE HELD AT THE TIME OF THE GENERAL ELECTION IN 1998; AND TO
 REPEAL ACT 340 OF 1967 RELATING TO THE CHARLESTON COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD AND ALL
 OTHER ACTS INCONSISTENT WITH THIS ACT.

   04/22/98  House  Introduced and read first time HJ-53
   04/22/98  House  Referred to delegation from Charleston HJ-53



A BILL

TO CREATE SEVEN INDEPENDENT AND AUTONOMOUS SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN CHARLESTON COUNTY, EACH DISTRICT TO BE GOVERNED BY A SEVEN-MEMBER BOARD TO BE ELECTED IN THE GENERAL ELECTION BEGINNING IN 2000, TO DEVOLVE THE POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE CHARLESTON COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD AND CONSTITUENT BOARDS UPON THESE DISTRICTS AND THEIR RESPECTIVE BOARDS; TO ESTABLISH THE COUNCIL OF BOARD CHAIRMEN FOR EDUCATIONAL SERVICES TO PROVIDE CERTAIN SUPPLIES AND SERVICES TO THE DISTRICTS WITH THE AUTHORITY TO LEVY TAXES FOR OPERATING COSTS; TO CONDITION THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THESE DISTRICTS AND THEIR RESPECTIVE BOARDS ON A REFERENDUM TO BE HELD AT THE TIME OF THE GENERAL ELECTION IN 1998; AND TO REPEAL ACT 340 OF 1967 RELATING TO THE CHARLESTON COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD AND ALL OTHER ACTS INCONSISTENT WITH THIS ACT.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION 1. (A) As of January 1, 2000, the following independent and autonomous school districts are created in Charleston County:

(1) East Cooper School District formerly constituent School Districts No. 1 and No. 2;

(2) James Island School District formerly constituent School District No. 3;

(3) North Charleston School District formerly constituent School District No. 4;

(4) Johns Island School District formerly constituent School District No. 9;

(5) St. Andrews School District formerly constituent School District No. 10;

(6) Charleston City School District formerly constituent School District No. 20; and

(7) St. Paul's School District formerly constituent School District No. 23.

(B) Each district must be governed by a seven-member board of trustees. Board members for each district must be residents of their respective districts, qualified electors, and elected at large in a partisan election held at the time of the general election beginning in 2000.

(C) A board may petition the Charleston County Legislative Delegation to change from the "at-large" system of electing its members to the "single-member" system or any combination of the two.

(D) Members shall serve terms of four years and until their successors are elected and qualify.

(E) Each board shall establish annual compensation for its members, not to exceed three thousand dollars, and members must be reimbursed for mileage, per diem, and subsistence pursuant to law for members of state boards, committees, and commissions.

SECTION 2. (A) In addition to the duties, powers, and responsibilities provided by law for county boards of education and for school district trustees, the powers conferred upon the Charleston County School District, the Board of Trustees for the Charleston County School District, and the constituent school districts of Charleston County and their respective boards of trustees are devolved upon the school districts and their respective boards as created in Section 1.

(B) All real property of the Charleston County School District and its Board of Trustees and all personal property within the constituent school districts are transferred to the appropriate school districts and their respective boards, except that the current building and personal property at the Leeds Avenue, Charleston County School District facility and all real and personal property at the Charleston County School District administrative building at 75 Calhoun Street, Charleston, South Carolina are transferred to the Council of Board Chairmen for Educational Services, established pursuant to Section 3. This council also shall maintain and manage this property and may determine future disposition of the property. Any proceeds or assets sold by the council must be distributed to the respective districts on a per capita student basis.

SECTION 3. (A) There is created the Council of Board Chairmen for Educational Services composed of the board chairs of each school district. The chairman of the council shall rotate annually among the seven school board chairs. The council shall adopt rules governing its operations and procedures. The council shall provide supplies and services to the school districts and shall hire a director and other personnel necessary to provide the services authorized by this act.

(B) Services offered through the council must include, but are not limited to:

(1) providing a director of special education who must ensure that special education services offered by and to special education students meet, if not surpass, the services offered by the Charleston County School District;

(2) a food service director;

(3) a director of security;

(4) central purchasing;

(5) an insurance purchasing service;

(6) coordination of student bus transportation;

(7) payroll services.

The council shall offer other services as it considers necessary and may privatize its services as it considers appropriate.

(C) Operating funds for the Council of Board Chairmen in its first year must be provided by the school districts from funds transferred from the former consolidated school district. For operating funds in subsequent years, the council shall assess a per pupil fee based on the total number of students from all districts, may levy a special millage in each district, or may charge a fee for services rendered. Surplus funds may not exceed five percent of the prior year's budget.

SECTION 4. There is created the Advisory Council of District Superintendents composed of the superintendent of each school district which shall confer and communicate in an advisory capacity with the Council of Board Chairmen for Educational Services upon the council's request.

SECTION 5. The bonded indebtedness of the Charleston County School District existing on December 31, 1999 must be divided among the seven school districts commensurate with the debt attributable to each district.

Council of Board Chairmen for Educational Services shall levy and collect a countywide tax sufficient to pay off the indebtedness as it comes due, and each district shall levy its own ratable millage rate to reimburse the council until the debt is paid. The council has no authority to levy any other millage not specified in this act.

SECTION 6. (A) The establishment of the school districts pursuant to this act does not affect school building personnel seniority or longevity. All school building employees in good standing employed on January 1, 2000, who wish to remain employed must be offered employment at their current school location or the same level of employment at a different location for at least one year and must be given preference in employment for one year thereafter. No school building employee's compensation may be involuntarily reduced as a result of this act.

(B) All other Charleston County School District employees must be given preference for positions within the seven school districts where positions are available through December 31, 2000.

SECTION 7. Nothing in this act may be construed to discriminate for or against "magnet schools". These schools may be created and maintained in accordance with policies and procedures of the respective independent school districts created by this act.

SECTION 8. (A) The members serving on the respective constituent district school boards at the time of the general election in 2000 shall continue to serve until January 1, 2001, after which the board members of the seven districts created pursuant to Section 1 shall take office.

(B) Of the school board members first elected in 2000, the four members of each board receiving the highest number of votes shall serve terms of four years and the remaining three shall serve terms of three years.

SECTION 9. (A) At the General Election in 1998, the following referendum must be placed on the ballot:

"Shall the Charleston County School District be abolished and seven separate and autonomous school districts be established with all the powers and duties previously exercised by the consolidated school district?"

SECTION 10. (A) If a majority votes in favor of the referendum held pursuant to Section 9, the Charleston County School Board may not incur any debt, dispose of any assets, or spend any funds not in the normal course of business subsequent to the general election.

(B) If a majority vote in favor of the referendum held pursuant to Section 9, the Charleston County School Board is directed to employ, within sixty days at its expense, an outside audit and inventory firm or firms approved by the Legislative Audit Council to do a thorough and complete fiscal audit of the entire consolidated school district and all of its accounts, assets, and liabilities and an inventory and appraisal of all physical assets. This audit and inventory must be inclusive from June 30, 1995. Upon completion, the audit and inventory must be released to the public, to the Charleston County School Board, and to the Charleston County Legislative Delegation.

(C) The office of the Attorney General is designated as the sole source of and attorneys for all legal matters and representation in connection with the deconsolidation contemplated or accomplished under this act, and it alone shall prosecute or defend any necessary litigation in connection with these matters at the expense of the Charleston County School District or its successors.

(D) The Charleston County School Board is expressly prohibited from allocating or expending any public dollars to litigate any issue in connection with this act, unless specifically authorized in writing by the office of the Attorney General, and all attorneys employed by the Charleston County School Board must be considered to be under the supervision of the Attorney General in all matters connected with this act.

(E) If this act creates the need to collect or create information or analysis for any purpose, the Charleston County School District shall accomplish this at its expense under the supervision of the Attorney General.

SECTION 11. Act 340 of 1967 is repealed, and local acts pertaining to any school district of Charleston County inconsistent with the provisions of this act are repealed, it being the intent of the General Assembly to have this act and the general law be the only provisions of law governing the school districts of the county and the district boards of education.

SECTION 12. Section 9 takes effect upon approval by the Governor. The remaining sections take effect only upon certification of a majority "yes" vote in the referendum held pursuant to Section 9.

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