District One School Board approves $80,372,490 budget

Keeps salaries above state minimums
By David Meade
During their regular monthly meeting Tuesday, the Anderson School District One Board of Trustees approved the 2019-20 budget with no tax increase. Superintendent Robbie Binnicker said the final budget presented was identical to versions presented in recent work sessions with the current expected revenue of $78.6 million.
However projected expenses including growth positions, raises and retirement increases resulted in an expense increase of $5,300,219, bringing budgeted expenses to $80,372,037, creating a $747,037 budget deficit.
A transfer of $747,037 from the fund balance was needed to meet the additional expenditures and to balance the budget at $80,372,490. The District is going to the fund balance instead of a tax increase for CPI and Growth, which was an option for the board and would have brought in approximately enough to cover the deficit.
Binnicker said there is the possibility of a slight tax decrease, since the revenue numbers for businesses, cars, boats and rental properties is more than in the past. “Individuals may pay a bit less,” he said. “We could have more than $747,000 left at the end of the year,” he said, “which would allow the District to maintain our fund balance.”
Binnicker thanked District One Finance Director Travis Thomas and his staff for the work put into the new budget.
Ideally we would like to be plus $1 million.
Thomas said that the revenue could be more because the district is growing at such a fast pace. “We are conservative by nature,” he said. Thomas said projected student growth was included in this budget and that recent years have been better than anticipated, allowing the district to grow the fund balance. The District has been able to increase the fund balance reserves by approximately $2 million each of the last four years. It currently is at $17,007,000, or 22.7 percent of the budget, well above the minimum recommended.
Binnicker said the Board’s decision to use the fund balance instead of a tax millage increase was positive. “It is very important to be able to show our support to the taxpayers without a tax increase, which is what we would like to do.”
“Not taking CPI and growth is a good gesture by this board and by the district to hold the line even though there is growth and inflation,” he said. “It is very much appreciated by our constituents.”
Binnicker said the budget keeps the district teacher salary scale at 12% above the state minimum. For District One teachers, this translates into a 4%-11% increase for teachers depending on where they are on the scale, while giving all other employees a 4% increase and administrators a 2% increase.
The state minimum for starting teachers is $35,000. District One starting teacher pay for the first year will be $39,819, which Binnicker said still keeps the District competitive. Neighboring Greenville County starts teachers at $40,000, he said. The budget includes the addition of 18.5 new teachers, two .5 assistant principals, and one special education psychologist. Projected student growth included in the budget is based on a weighted pupil unit of 135 and amounts to $274,307.
The $80,372,490 budget was approved 6-0 with board member Wendy Burgess not present. No one spoke at the public hearing held prior to the start of the meeting. The budget will be sent to the County Board on June 3 and a presentation will be made to the County Board on June 12.