Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Greenville County Schools Board of Trustees approved the proposed FY 19 General Fund Budget by an 8-4 vote following a public hearing and the budget’s second and final reading Monday night.    Lynda Leventis-Wells, Derek Lewis, Danna Rohleder, and Pat Sudduth voted against the motion to approve.

The FY 19 budget is balanced, as required by policy, and reflects revenue and expenditures totaling $620,240,000.  Considering the projected growth in student population for FY 19, the recommended budget equates to a cost of approximately $45 per day, per student, for the 180 days that comprise a school year.  The district operates 245 days each year.  The proposed budget is based on the Senate version of the State budget, which is not yet finalized.

Under current State law, taxes for school districts’ general fund are not levied on owner-occupied homes in South Carolina. Nonetheless, school funding is set up in South Carolina to be a shared responsibility between the State and local taxpayers.  The removal of owner-occupied houses from the School District’s revenue stream has resulted in an operating mill that is worth 59% of the district’s debt-service mill.

The proposed FY 19 budget includes a 5.1 mill increase to the current tax rate.  The GCS Board has the authority this year to levy up to 15.2 mills to maintain its local share of the budget and to meet population growth and inflation.  The amount available for the Board to levy is determined by a State formula that allows available unlevied mills to be carried over for three years, at which time they lapse if not used. Of those 15.2 mills, 10.1 are carryover mills that have not been utilized by the Board of Trustees.

The bulk of the new expenditures in the FY 19 General Fund Budget are for employee compensation.  This includes a State-mandated step on the salary scale for all teachers and a 1% raise to each step on the teacher schedule, which will generate an average salary increase of 3.29% for teachers eligible for a step.  For all other employees, including our most experienced teachers at the top of the salary scale, the administration included a 2% cost of living salary increase.  A 2% raise will be help employees respond to inflation over the past 12 months (2.13%), and meet higher deductibles, co-pays, and prescription drug costs.

The recommended budget also includes required additional employer contributions for State health, dental, and retirement funds, positions added to the General Fund Budget for student growth, the expansion of Rudolph Gordon School into middle grades, the hiring of a principal in advance of the opening of Fountain Inn High School, and additional special education personnel to better serve students.  School safety is also a topic of concern in the recommended budget, which includes a heightened presence of Zone Patrol Officers in schools without a School Resource Officer, additional money for criminal background checks for volunteers, and four School Safety Specialist positions to monitor and enhance security drills and protocols at the district’s more than 100 facilities.

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