County Schools Tax and Spending Increases Proposed

BC Schools

Beaufort County schools look for $12.8M more in 2017 budget

Superintendent presents $216.3 million in needs for next school year

Request to Beaufort County would be 6.3 percent higher than 2015-2016 budget

School board to hold forums, certify budget request in May

Island Packet: By REBECCA LURYE, rlurye@islandpacket.com, April 5, 2016

The Beaufort County School District hopes to receive an extra $12.8 million next year — a 6.3 percent increase from its current budget — to help pay for the growing costs of enrollment and operations.

Superintendent Jeff Moss presented a preliminary, $216.3 million budget to the school board during a Friday work session, though the board will not certify its budget until May 17.

About 40 percent of the district’s new needs would go toward covering state and federal mandates, such as salary and health insurance increases, but the rest comes from within the district, including:

• $2.5 million to hire new employees, teachers

• $2.3 million to cover higher operational costs

• $1.86 million to increase teacher’s cost-of-living supplements from $1,000 to $2,000

This year, the school district has a budget of $203.5 million, about two-thirds of which it had spent as of April 1. The district estimates it will come in under budget by about $2 million, primarily because there have been a host of vacancies the district either could not or chose not to fill, says Phyllis White, the chief financial officer.

Next year, however, Moss says he wants to raise the district’s millage rate from 103.5 to 113.1 to generate the rest of the local and state revenue he expects to need.

Student enrollment has been one of the district’s biggest challenges, growing about 10 percent since 2010 to 21,749 students this year.

Since 2014-2015 alone, the district gained 368 students, according to data from the 45th day of school, and the district anticipates adding at least 230 more students in 2016-2017.

To accommodate that growth, primarily in southern Beaufort County, the district will need to hire at least 25 more school employees, 10 teachers and a school resource officer, according to Moss’ presentation.

To keep costs down, the district always tries to minimize its energy and utility usage and, this year, denied all district department’s requests for additional money outside of the classroom, White said. That included things like bigger budgets for maintenance supplies, travel and professional development.

“We’ve tried to hold those costs down,” she said. “Everything else is directly tied to the growth of enrollment.”

Parents will have an opportunity to weigh in and ask questions at two public forums next month. The first will be held at Bluffton High School on May 5, followed by a forum at Battery Creek High School on May 9.

The district is also developing a 10-year, one-percent educational sales tax referendum that will go before voters in November. That tax, expected to generate about $282 million, would cover capital costs such as constructing new schools and repairing aging buildings.

Source

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