By David Meade
Anderson School District One Board of Trustees approved final reading on the 2016-17 budget during their meeting Tuesday. No one spoke at a public hearing on the budget held prior to the regular meeting.
Superintendent David Havird said the $66,180,471 budget is in good shape and the final version included only a few changes from a revised version dated May 13. Havird told the Board the budget reflects the District’s committment “to providing an educational experience our students need to be prepared for college or their careers.”
Havird also said the budget is balanced and reflects accurately the needs of the District and that District staff “worked very hard” on it.
Havird pointed out three highlights of the budget:
First is the addition of nine professional staff including two special education teachers, reading coaches and teachers needed to address growth of an expected 150 students in the coming year.
According to Havird the second highlight of the budget is that it continues to focus on college and career preparedness profiles for graduates with continued emphasis on technology.
Third, it focuses on the District having a high quality workforce reflected by an investment in employee compensation with increases of 3.5 to 5 percent in salaries for teachers and support staff.
During his budget summary, Havird explained the effects of ACT 388, which limits the increase in the millage rate used to determine school taxes and determines the amount school districts receive.
Funding provided to school districts and municipalities under ACT 388 is based on a statewide sales tax. While providing property tax relief to residential property owners, growing school districts are losing funding they would otherwise have received.
The funding generated by the one cent tax has decreased due to declining sales as a result of the economy which has struggled since ACT 388 was approved by the state legislature.
The Superintendent pointed out that under ACT388 the school district is limited to a millage cap of 2.4 percent which is based on state inflation and growth in the district. Under the approved budget, the District One millage rate will increase from the current 142.1 mills to 144.5.
According to Havird the increase will amount to $235,846 which he said, “Doesn’t even cover our new teachers.”
“Growing districts such as us are getting heavily penalized,” Havird said.
Prior to the property tax relief provided by ACT 388, the district would have seen an additional $3 million based on the assessed value of houses and new construction in Anderson School District One.
“We are losing money and being penalized on growth in the way they (the state) award money,” Havird said. “We have lost a lot over the last several years.”
Havird said his staff is working on a report reflecting the amount of funding the District has lost since ACT 388 was implemented.
The Board unanimously approved the 2016-17 budget which will be presented to the County Board of Education for their approval on June 14 at 5 p.m.