School District One balances budget by reducing teachers, expenses and drawing on fund balance

With no tax increase
The Anderson School District One Board unanimously approved final reading on a $80,273,309 budget for 2020-21 during a virtual meeting held Tuesday. No one spoke to the public hearing on the budget. The budget was balanced with no tax millage increase and the District One millage rate will remain at 153.4 mills.
There were some changes from the first draft which had revenues of $79,332,680 and expenses of $82,418,127 with a budget deficit of $3,085,447.
The Board decided against a FY 20 millage rate increase to 159.8 mills, which would have brought in an additional $708,799 and could have increased for FY 21 to 165.3 mills, which would have brought in an additional $1,317,923.
Instead they opted to cut expenses by approximately $1 million, mainly by leaving some teaching positions open or unfilled for the upcoming school year and making up the difference with $840,629 from the fund balance, along with $1 million in CARE ACT stimulus funding.
The reduction in staff of 17.2 FTE and some other budget program cuts reduced the budget by $1,144,818.
Superintendent Robbie Binnicker said the Board was aware of tight funding. “These cuts hurt,” he said. “They were very difficult cuts to make.”
The other cuts include: no raises for any district employees, no step increases, leaving the new Director of Learning Position vacant for FY21, freezing a portion of the supply money including funding for library books, freezing a portion of travel funding for district employees and freezing a portion of funding for professional development opportunities.
Expenses were cut by reducing salaries from $48,865,256 to $47,331,398; Fringe benefits from $22,570,809 to $21,960,628; purchased services by $150 to $4,690,752, supplies and materials by $629 to $4,028,681. Equipment and Capital purchases remains the same at $1,364,475 and transfers and other reamins the same at $897,375.
The approved budget reflects increases of $1,019,000 for growth positions, a mandated 4 percent health insurance increases, mandated $120,000 for certification upgrades, $135,000 for utilities and $65,000 for substitute increases.

Regarding staffing, one elementary school was going to add a teacher, now each of the elementary schools will lose one teaching position for a total reduction of 7.2.  Most of those are through attrition and one resignation. There will be one support staff loss.

Middle Schools were going to add three teachers and will see a reduction of four teachers.
Powdersville Middle will lose two teacher positions through attrition, Wren Middle will have a growth position not filled and Palmetto Middle will lose a growth position and a computer science position may be eliminated. The goal was to have the one unit required for graduation, according to Binnicker, however Palmetto Middle will not have that computer science elective.

High Schools were remaining the same, but will lose four teacher positions. Palmetto will lose one teacher through attrition, Powdersville one teacher through attrition and Wren High will lose two teachers. Binnicker said the cuts were extremely difficult, especially at Wren, and were long time, career employees of the District.
The District was planning to add eight special ed teachers, but will not be able to. Special ed will have two support staff added.
A planned addition of three positions for Programs, will now lose one. A German teacher that was to be shared among the three high schools was one of the cuts.
Of a planned increase of 15 teachers, the District is instead reducing 16.2 FTE.
A planned addition of an agriculture teacher for Palmetto High remains along with one mental health counselor for the District.
Binnicker reminded the Board that the budget does not include the 17 positions that were planned for this year, and that the stimulus money is a one time funding. “There is no way to make up a $3 million deficit without cutting personnel,” he said.
Binnicker said there will be a special called meeting on June 23 to hear an energy audit presentation and an executive session to discuss contract work for HVAC work.