DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Dorchester County District Two schools could be facing larger class sizes and a loss of teachers after officials approved a proposed budget Thursday with a $7.8 million deficit.
Thursday, DD2 leaders, teachers, parents, school administrators and parents attended a DD2 board meeting at Ashley Ridge High School to discuss the proposed 2019-2020 school year budget.
“We don’t have the money,” Superintendent Joseph Pye, said.
Pye believes the district has been abused for years.
“I’m mad and disappointed this has been years of abuse,” he said. “We’re not getting money from the state, from the county, they all have their reasons, they point fingers, at the end of the day it’s our wonderful school district in jeopardy.”
The district wants the seven million dollars to help add 20 additional teachers to lower class sizes, funding for a $40,000 minimum teacher salary to retain teachers, additional mental health counselors and school resource officers, along with many other things.
District leaders say the short fall is due to Act 388.
“Everyone knows about Act 388,” DD2 Chief Financial Officer, Allyson Duke, said. “We continue to be funded less for the property taxes that were collected from homes that no longer come from homes. We get it from the state through the penny sales tax.”
Since Act 388 has been in place the district has lost out on more than $200 million over time. Not to mention, the base student cost is $3,095 each fiscal year and the district is only giving schools $2,487 per student. The base student cost has not been fully funded since 1988, according to Duke. The district has aproximately 34,000 students, which means the difference between what the base cost is and what the district is receiving results in the district losing out on more than $20 million.
In 11 years the state has only raised its funding for the district’s base student cost by $4, according to Duke. Dorchester county council could increase property taxes to assist with the budget, but the district would still need more funding.
“if they did approve everything they could, we would still be millions short,” Pye said.
DD2 officialsl will present the proposed budget to dorchester County Council Monday.