School rallies to keep teacher's position

School rallies to save teacher's position

JAMES ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - The school year at Harbor View Elementary School ends next Wednesday, and technology teacher Susan Findlay wonders if it will be her final goodbye.

"This is the worst it has been.  In the past, I've just gotten hours cut, but this time, they're saying I wouldn't have a job," Findlay says.

Findlay's position, which she has held for the past ten years, might be eliminated next year because of a lack of funding.  The job is deemed a support position, and is therefore not directly funded by the Charleston County School District.  The district provides "pool money" to each school to fund such support positions.

Parents say they're concerned their kids will lose steam, technologically that is.

"It's so important in this modern day and age, especially in a town like Charleston that promotes itself as this silicon coastal city," says Chris Dixon, a parent and PTA member.

Harbor View Elementary School Principal Lara Latto says their pool fund totals $86,000 and will pay for two positions: a data clerk and a secretary bookkeeper.  She says the district would need to contribute $30,000 in order to maintain Findlay's position – an amount she will ask the school board to provide.

"Ms. Findlay is the staple of this lab," she says.  "She is what pulls it all together.  The things that the children are able to produce in here, they wouldn't be able to do without her instruction."

School officials say a decision to add support positions like Findlay's to the budget permanently is a tough and expensive one.  Harbor View is one of 51 elementary schools all with similar needs.

"While addressing this issue at one school seems fairly easy to do as a $30,000 issue, addressing it at 51 schools becomes a $1.5 million issue," explains superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley.

The school's Parent Teacher Association is expressing their confidence in the position by collecting petitions, and planning to speak before a school board meeting on Tuesday.

"They have really just rallied around and they really want to keep the job in this school," Findlay says.  "They want to have computer education at Harbor View."

Latto says she will also ask the school board to now include the technology position as a "line item" – a permanently paid position by the district, instead of a support position.  She says if the board declines the extra money, she will begin a grassroots fundraiser to keep the position.

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