In his Feb. 6 letter, Dick Grant submitted several questions that I am happy to answer.

1. The number of school administration employees and total salaries compared to other sized districts.

According to The State’s website, Aiken pays $3,977 per administrator less annually than districts similar to ours. Also, based on the most recent data, Aiken spends less than 82 of the 83 South Carolina school districts on operations – non-instructional costs – per pupil. That leads me to believe that Aiken County schools have a great deal fewer administers than school district like ours.

2. The current number of employee’s versus five years ago.

To answer your question, we had 3,270 employees five years ago and 3,162 now. An even more interesting fact is before the economic drop when we had 3,318 employees and nearly the same student count.

3. What percent of money collected from a 1 percent sales tax will be directed to school sports? Although the 1 percent sales tax is not yet legal for Aiken County, if the S.C. Senate’s version of the bill goes through, voters would be given a list of facility improvements for approval. No funds could be used for operational expenses including sports. Other, as you put it, ‘belt-tightening’ that occurred in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 many which are still on-going: No salary increases for non-teachers, increase in pupil-teacher ratios, eliminated signing bonuses for hard to fill new teaching positions, eliminated playoff supplements for coaches, reduced travel fund by 50 percent, phased out the International Baccalaureate program, eliminated intramural supplement, reduced budgets of technology and maintenance and we furloughed employees.

Lastly, Aiken spends more on instruction than all but three of the 83 public school districts in South Carolina.

Richard Hazen

Financial advisor, Aiken County Public Schools