DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Dorchester School District Two (DD2) Board of Trustees is one step closer to planning how they’ll spend their more than $200 million dollar budget.

DD2 Board of Trustees unanimously voted on passing a nearly $237 million dollar proposed budget for the next school year. School leaders say focusing on the need for higher salaries and more benefits for teachers as the starting salary is nearly $40,000 for DD2.

“I don’t want anyone out there watching and thinking we didn’t go to bat for them. We are getting ready to lose lots of people and now that contracts are back in. We are seeing more of an exodus and I am really concerned,” says DD2 Superintendent Joseph Pye.

With the help of federal Esser money, the district has been able to use millions of dollars to fund economic relief for safety measures, employ personnel, and have additional student learning access.

Going into 2023 the district has nearly $8 million dollars remaining to spend in Esser III funds. District leaders are wanting to find ways to use any leftover money to help keep the retention rates of staff.

“I don’t think we want to call it our wish list. I think we want to call it our further needs on what we need to do. We want to try to be competitive,” says Gail Hughes, DD2 Board Chair.

The proposed budget will be voted on at Dorchester County Council Monday, May 9.