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State-issued teacher salary hikes and possible local increases put school district in budget crunch

The Colleton County School Board is set to discuss the district’s upcoming budget soon, but both of the district’s current budget options still have the district entering into the new 2020 school year in the red.
The Colleton County School District currently has two budget options. Both of these options include new state-mandates and a new across-the-board salary increase for all teachers.
In Option One, the local district would have a potential deficit of approximately $1.8 million. This includes the new state requirement of a 4-percent salary increase for all certified teachers. This same 4-percent salary increase must also go to any school district nurses, any occupational and physical therapists who work in public school district and to school psychologists, as mandated recently by S.C. Legislature.
The projected local budget deficits are also because of an additional new state requirement that says every teacher’s base salary in South Carolina is at a minimal of $35,000 per year.
In addition to salary increases, local school district officials say the budget woes are also in part because of other new state add-ons. These additional requirements include the district increasing their contribution to the state retirement system for its employees by one percent.
This would take the local retirement match from 20.61 percent, as stipulated in the current 2018-2019 budget, to 21.61 percent for the upcoming budget.
Option Two would put the Colleton County School District at a higher deficit of nearly $2.6 million. This is because the second option includes an additional teacher pay hike: the Colleton County School Board is considering giving its Colleton teachers an additional 5-percent increase in teacher salaries. This is on top of the state-mandated 4-percent increase.
If the school board goes with this second option, the added salary increases will put the district deeper into a monetary hole, coming at a cost an additional $735,622.
Both of these potential budgeting options are for the 2020 fiscal year budget.
“These mandates represent a total cost to the district of $1,685,831 under Option 1. The state legislature is not fully funding these requirements, providing only $1,1771,186 to the district to comply with these mandates,” as stated in a school district press release.
These deficits include projected revenues coming into the district at about $45 million for the upcoming year, according to information provided by district officials in a public statement.
“The Colleton County School District is also obligated to pay for increased costs associated with instructional supplies, legal services, maintenance contracts, and insurance premiums,” as stated by district leaders in a public statement.
According to district information, this creates an additional local deficit of $1,254,989.
“Our district obligations and continuous improvement needs would normally be funded through increases in base student cost, which is set annually by the legislature. By law, base student costs for the 2020 fiscal year should be $3,095. However, the state has not increased its base student costs since 1998: the current base student cost for each student in the South Carolina public school system is $2,487.”
The Colleton County School Board is set to further discuss the two budget options at its upcoming May 30th school board meeting. This meeting is open to the public and will begin at 6 p.m. inside the Colleton County Annex Learning Center Board Room.