School Board reviews draft budget
By David Meade
The Anderson School District One Board of Trustees got their first look at the draft budget for the upcoming year during a work session held Tuesday. The outlook is not as bleak as in previous years when reductions in state funding, particularly the base student cost and other areas, affected it tremendously. The 2016-17 proposed budget benefited greatly from increases in state funding and proceeds from the local option sales tax.
According to Superintendent David Havird, the District is seeing growth return to previous levels, resulting in more students. Anderson County is attracting industry, and in turn employees, by offering fee in lieu tax breaks. While the tax breaks are good for industry, school districts in which the industry locates receive less funding than they would have.
Havird said Distirct One is seeing more growth in housing and number of students than any of the other four school districts in Anderson County. District enrollment has increased about 150 students last year and this year, and Havird said he expects the growth to continue.
“We are growing at a faster rate than any other part of the county,” he said.
Based on expected growth District One plans to add eight full time teachers.
The additional staffing will include 3.5 full time employees (FTE) for Elementary Schools and 3 FTE for Middle Schools.
Powdersville Middle expects student enrollment of 616 and will require two new positions. Wren Middle is projecting enrollment of 758 students and will require one new position.
Concrete Elementary is expecting student enrollment of 651 and will require a part time position (.5 FTE). Powdersville Elementary is expecting enrollment of 595 and will need one new position. Hunt Meadows Elementary is expecting enrollment of 498 and will require one new position. Spearman is expecting enrollment of 609 and will require one new position.
Wren Elementary, West Pelzer Elementary, Palmetto Elementary and Cedar Grove will not need additional staffing.
Special Education will require two hires, an additiona1 FTE for resource and one FTE for speech therapist.The District will actually need one less high school teacher in the coming year, Havird said.
Powdersville High will require one new teacher, however both Wren and Palmetto High will each need one less.
District One maintains a student to teacher ratio of 23.5;1 in elementary schools and 24.5:1 in middle school core, 25:1 in middle school related. Student/teacher ratio in the district high schools is 25:1.
In addition to eight new hires, the budget includes a 2 percent scale salary increase for current employees and a step increase for professional and support staff. Custodial staff will also see an increase.
Budget increases include $400,000 for the eight new professional staff positions; $1.3 million for the two percent step increase,; $100,000 for required teacher certificaton upgrades; $30,000 for health and dental insurance and $200,000 for retirement.
The budget also includes projected operational expense increases in three areas: Utilities (water and sewer) $53,000; Technology $200,000 and Maintenance $100,000.
On the revenue side, if the state budget stands where it is currently funded, the base student cost will increase by $130 per student from $2,220 to $2,350.
District One expects to receive $24,578,435 in revenue based on a 45 day enrollment of 9,447 students in K5-12 at the EFA base student cost of $2,350.
The state is also continuing funding for K-12 Technology and Reading Coaches, resulting in funding of $324,371 and $439,110 for District One.
The state is also providing funding for teacher salary supplements, bus driver salaries, bus lease/purchase, adult education, rural teacher incentives, facility assessment and technical assistance.
Even with the additional funding of $2.5 million from the state and $1.25 million in debt reduction from the local option sales tax, Superintendent Havird is recommending a millage increase of 2.4 percent in District One.
The burden of the millage increase falls on business owners, commercial and industrial properties and on motor vehicles. Residential property taxes do not contribute to school operations under Act 388.
Act 388 allows an increase in millage tax rate by a combination of consumer price index (CPI) and population increase up to the cap of 2.4 percent.
Currently CPI in the District is at .12 percent and population growth is at 1.53 percent. Combining the two for 2016-17 allows a millage rate increase of 1.65 percent. Havird is recommending an increase of 2.4 mills which is the cap allowed under Act 388 to offset inflation and growth.
The state average for operation mills is 180. District One is currently at 142.1 mills and with the increase will be at 144.5 mills. The millage rate increase will generate an additional $235,846.
According to Havird the millage increase if approved by the board, will be used to add professional staff needed for student growth, offset operational costs and balance the budget.
Homeowners however could see a decrease in debt service millage of 4.1 mills due to bond debt reduction by the local option sales tax. The district has received $1.25 million to reduce debt since the 1 cent sales tax was implemented in 2015.
In District One the average per pupil expenditure is currently $8950 compared to the state average of $11,634.
According to Havird, District One has the third lowest per pupil expenditure of 85 school districts in the state and has the lowest per pupil administrator expenditure in the state.
Anderson District One also ranks in the top five on academic performance.
The draft budget reflects projected budget revenues of $66,151,242 to expenses of $66,151,242.
It reflects a 5.39 percent increase over the current budget. The budget also allows for an increase in the fund balance of $10,540.
Parents will also be pleased with a proposed reduction in student fees.
In his budget presentation, Havird recommended the district reduce student instructional fees by $10 for high schools (From $55 to $45); $5 for Middle schools (from $25 to $20); and $5 for elementary schools (from $20 to $15).
He recommended no increase for lunch fees.
Havird also recommended the board consider an increase in the out of district tuition from $2,400 to $3,198.