BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – The district is expecting a positively estimated increase in projected revenues based on explosive growth in Berkeley County.
According to the news release, the increase will likely add $6 to $8 million to the District’s budget. Additionally, the Board anticipates a significant tax millage rollback consistent with state law.
Chief Financial Officer Ashley Smith advised the Board that she is “constantly monitoring the revenue estimates of the budget based on newly acquired information and this year is particularly difficult, as it is a county-wide reassessment year.”
The County reassesses individual property values every five years. Based on the reassessment, the District must rollback its millage to prevent any financial windfall. In calculating the reassessment and rollback numbers, the District’s estimated receipts increased based on explosive commercial and residential growth.
In a special called meeting of the Berkeley County School Board Finance Committee, members voted to recommend allocating the additional funding to support Berkeley County School District (BCSD) teachers, students, and school, according to Public Information Officer Katie Orvin Tanner.
“I am proud of this vote because it is evidence that our Board values our stakeholders. With the additional revenue growth, we focused on pay increases for our employees above and beyond the state-mandated 4%, we lowered class sizes, we increased critical resources to our exceptional students, and we balanced these needs against being positive fiscal stewards of the tax monies our citizens contribute,” stated Board Chair Sally Wofford.
In light of the recently learned budget increase, Finance Chairman Michael Ramsey called for a special called committee meeting to discuss the projected revenue growth and itemize a recommendation for the Board to consider at its final reading of the budget next Tuesday.
“We called the meeting because we wanted to share the good news, but we also wanted to present it transparently with a formally called public meeting rather than simply amend the budget at the last reading next week,” stated Ramsey.
At tonight’s special called meeting, the Finance Committee approved funding the following budget recommendations:
· Lowering second grade class size from 25 students to 21 per teacher. Second grade is a pivotal year for reading comprehension and growth.
· Increase every employee’s pay by 1-2%, in addition to the previously approved 4%, resulting in a total 5-6%.
· Reduce the elementary resource teacher allocation from 33 students per teacher to 20 students per teacher.
· Add 39 special education instructional assistants to support classroom learning in every self-contained special education classroom.
· Provide a $100.00 match for every qualifying teacher to increase the teacher supply check to $375.00 (the state currently funds $275.00).
· Increase critical school-level leadership positions (8 district-wide) for program and special education support.
“We appreciate our Board’s focus on making decisions that directly impact the efficiency of teachers and the lives of our students,” said BCSD Chief Academic and Innovation Officer Dr. Kelly Wulf. “The priority the Board and Dr. Ingram place on these recommendations shows their commitment to everyone impacted by our schools.”
The recommendations of the Finance Committee will be presented for full Board consideration on Tuesday, June 25 at the regular meeting of the Board.