Anderson School District One Board reviews draft budget, begins planning for expected growth

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The Anderson School District One Board approved two policy changes and heard a presentation on the 2022-23 draft budget during their monthly meeting Tuesday.
District One Finance Director Travis Thomas reported that Anderson County took in $5,493,000 for January and February from the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST). District One’s share, received in April, was $1.8 million. Of that $360,000 will go to property tax relief and $1.4 million for capital improvements.

The LOST fund balance is currently at $9.9 million. A total of $20 million of the LOST was designated for the most recent District One building program. $14 million has already been transferred to the general fund an additional $6 million will be transferred soon, according to Thomas.

The $140.5 million building program is in the final stages of completion and has a fund balance of $9.5 million.

Four projects are still being completed. They are the pressbox at Powdersville High, the Transportation/IT building at Spearman, the AG building at Palmetto High and roofing work at Palmetto High.

Thomas reported that auditors with Greene, Finney and Cauley LLP are in the process of conducting the annual audit for the District. The final results of the audit will be presented in October.

The Board approved an Emergency Pay Procedure as part of a state and national pandemic or national disaster plan. The procedure gives the District authority to bring certain individuals back to work if there was another shutdown.

Assistant Superintendent of Administration & Instruction Dr. Jeff Wilson reported that preliminary test scores from recent end of school State testing showed that District One students had done well.

The Board approved second reading on JICH policy regarding drug and alcohol use by students and first reading on AR IJOA-R regarding field trips. Under the AR IJOA-R policy, day field trips are approved by principals and overnight field trips are approved by the superintendent.

The Board went into executive session regarding a personnel matter and a contractural matter.
Upon returning to open session about thirty minutes later, Board members approved a contract with real estate company CBRE to act as an agent for a property purchase for a new elementary school. Superintendent Robbie Binnicker said a new elementary school will be needed in the next three years.

The District is just finishing a $140 million building program and is already running out of classroom space at several schools.

A proposed Impact Fee, that would have helped the District deal with growth, was voted down last week by the Anderson County Planning Commission.
“We were certainally disappointed that the planning commission did not approve the impact fee,” Binnicker said. “We felt like the impact fee was a good solution to help reduce the future property taxes for Anderson District One residents.”

The impact fee was also mentioned during a budget work session that immediately followed the regular meeting. Binnicker said that without the impact fee, there are “less options for our building program and it will affect the general fund budget.”

Superintendent Binnicker, Finance Director Thomas and Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Becky Brady presented information on the 2022-23 draft budget during the work session.

Highlights include:
The budget reflects the need to provide competitive salaries and maintaining staffing.
Due to expected growth, the District is looking to hire an additional 11.5 certified positions and 6 classified positions. Special Ed will require 6.5 certified and 3.5 classified people. ESOL will need an additional 1.8 positions.
Salaries and benefits make up a large portion of an increase in expenses over last year. Land purchase for a new elementary school is also budgeted.
There will be additional revenues from the State but there are changes in the way the funds have been allocated. The final version of the District One budget will depend on the State budget approved by the legislators.
The projected budget is $96,654,017 and includes a tax millage increase of 8 mills.
Under ACT 388, the District should increase the current tax base by 12.4 mills to offset for inflation and growth, however it is capped at 8 mills.
If approved the millage rate will increase from 163 to 171 and will generated an additional$1,045,960 in revenue.