By David Meade
The Anderson School District One Board approved first reading on the 2018-19 budget, with the understanding that there will probably be some minor changes on second reading or soon after, depending on what legislators decide in the state budget.
Superintendent David Havird, who is retiring in June, told the Board the budget being voted on was balanced based on the Senate version of the state budget.
However, the House and Senate postponed their vote on the state budget until late June, Havird said. The state budget is usually finalized by mid-May, but it may be June 27 or 28 before it is finished this year.
“Depending on the compromises, all school districts will have to go back and amend or revise their budgets,” Havird said.
The Anderson School District One Budget is $74,647,387, which is a 3.4 percent increase over last year’s budget of $72,197,307.
Highlights of the budget include:
Increases in the budget will cover student enrollment growth which is estimated at 150 new students. That projected growth will result in a need for additional teachers and staff and increased health insurance and retirement costs.
There will also be teacher and support staff raises.
The budget includes an average pay raise of 3.03 percent for teachers, raising the beginning teacher salaries, which Havird said is necessary to recruit and retain the best educators during a critical teacher shortage across the state and nation.
Support staff will see an average pay increase of 2.26 percent.
The budget also includes four additional SRO’s, which will provide each school in District One with a full time officer.
Other safety related equipment and security upgrades are also included in this budget, Havird said.
Due to Act388, there is no tax increase on owner occupied homes. However businesses and rental properties will see an increase, as well as an increase on vehicle taxes.
District One has a 6.4 millage cap to offset inflation and growth, resulting in a millage increase from 147 to 153.4. The tax increase will generate $714,170 in additional revenue for the District.
People with a vehicle valued at $20,000 will see a $7.68 increase in their vehicle tax. On a vehicle valued at $10,000, the increase will be $3.84.
Business and rental property owners will see an increase.
On a property valued at $25,000, the increase amounts to $9.60. On a $50.000 property, the increase is $19.20 and on a $100,000 property, the increase amounts to $38.40.
The millage rate increase is based on a formula with two percent population growth and two percent inflation, resulting in the 6.4 millage cap.
District One ranks in the bottom five of the state’s eighty-one school districts on the amount spent per pupil.
Havird said District One’s average per pupil expenditure is $9,946 while the state average is $3019.
Board member David Merritt said that Distrct One didn’t raise taxes prior to the passing of Act 388, which limits the amount of a tax increase allowed by population growth and inflation.
Havird added that “the District was growing and relying on assessment growth. We didn’t feel like they needed to.”
As a result, District One is locked into one of the lowest millage rates in the state.
No one spoke during a public hearing on the budget at the start of the meeting.
The budget was approved with a unanimous 6-0 vote.
Noticeably absent was Dr. Doug Atkins, who resigned from the board recently, in protest to the handling of an incident involving a video of veteran teacher Lisa Houston in the classroom.
There was no mention of the incident during the board meeting.
The District did issue a statement last Friday which said an agreement had been reached with Houston and she will be returning to the classroom in the fall.
Board Chair Nancy Upton acknowledged that the meeting is the last for the superintendent.
“We are very fortunate to have you as our superintendent for the last couple of years,” Upton said.
Havird responded, “It has been my priviledgle to serve Anderson District One and in education for forty-four years. Our employees are very dedicated. District One treats students and parents very well and the board has a deep committment for children.”
“I appreciate you board members and your dedicated service without pay. I’ve been blessed to serve this long,” he said.
By David Meade