School board gets look at budget

by | August 31, 2018 5:00 pm

Last Updated: August 28, 2018 at 2:02 pm

Colleton County School District Finance Director Emily Temple, during the Colleton County School Board’s Aug. 21 meeting, offered board members a brief review of the 2018-2019 fiscal year budget they’ll be asked to vote on in September.
“I am bringing a balanced budget to you,” Temple said at the start of her review.
Temple said the school district’s revenue for the next fiscal year amounted to $44,673,000. The proposed budget, she added, represents an increase of $1.2 million over the 2017-2018 fiscal year, a 2.8 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.
The final piece of the school district’s revenue fell into place at the Colleton County Council session on Aug. 14 when council members approved the fiscal year budget. Council’s approval of a three-mill property tax hike for the school district was included in the county government budget ordinance.
Temple said that the millage increase will not impact the bulk of the county’s residents who pay property taxes. “Operating millage is not accessed on taxpayer’s primary residence.”
Once county council’s approval was given, the school district could take the next step toward passage: running a legal ad for the budget required before the board can vote on it.
Placing the ad will allow the school board to vote on the budget at the Sept. 18 meeting to present the budget to the public.
School Superintendent Dr. Franklin Foster said that before the regular September meeting a special meeting will be scheduled to address one facet of the proposed budget.
The proposed budget sets aside funds to improve the wages of the school district’s classified staff, everyone except the teaching state and administrators, Foster explained, but school officials are still reviewing the options of how to put that money to work. He will bring that plan to the board members at the special meeting.
Foster said the school board and administration want to improve the pay for the classified staff, but do it all in one fiscal year will cost approximately $1 million. The district does not have revenue to accomplish that.
He envisions a multi-year approach to improving the wages for the classified staff, similar to how the district handled improving the pay for its certified staff. That multi-year approach was taken to increase the salaries of the certified staff, giving the Colleton County School District a more competitive wage in its bid to attract teachers.
Dr. Foster told the board with the teacher salary question addressed, school officials will “channel efforts to the classified staff now.”
The improvements to the wages of the certified staff, Foster said, is needed to retain employees.
Salaries and fringe benefits, Temple told the members of the school board, accounts for 86 percent of the budget.
The funds remaining after addressing the salaries and fringe benefits will go to “maintaining the level of service.”

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