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Final school budget passes

Charese Taylor is one of three CCHS students to recently be honored for having perfect attendance last year. They were recognized during a recent school board meeting.

In a contentious 6-1 vote, the Colleton County School Board passed the final $43 million budget for the incoming fiscal school year.
Colleton County School Board Member William Bowman was the lone vote against the budget. Before casting his vote during the Tuesday night board meeting, Bowman had strong words for the school board. He and fellow board Member P.A. Pournelle also had an, at times, heated conversation in a near 10-minute debate before casting the final vote.
“I do not like this budget for various reasons,” Bowman said, adding that he believes in being “transparent” and doesn’t believe in “clouding” the public with terms they “are not familiar with.”
“This budget does not prove a judicious use of taxpayer dollars for education,” he added, saying that the budget does not “rationalize” how this now-final budget is the largest ever in the school district, said Bowman. According to Bowman, the district in 2011 had a budget of $33 million with about 6,200 students and 11 schools. Now, the district has 8 schools, fewer than 6,000 students and a budget of $43 million. “I will never vote for a budget that is $10 million more than we had in 2008 and still does not offer our teachers and certified staff comparable pay,” said Bowman. “I will never vote for using money like that.”
In return, board member P.A.. Pournelle said that Colleton is not the only district in South Carolina “running behind” in giving teachers pay raises. “There are a lot of things that go into the budget about why we are where we are,” said Pournelle.
In a separate 4-3 vote, the Colleton County School Board also voted to give themselves an across-the-board $10,000 raise. This brings the total annual cost of paying the seven school board members to $100,000.
The Office of the Superintendent also received a $10,000 increase from last year’s budget.
The now-approved near $43 million includes a mixture of federal, state and local dollars. It also includes a 2-step salary increase for qualified teachers. “I know we all want our dedicated employees to have raises … this year, as well, we will be able to do a step increase,” said school board Member Darlene Miller. “We hope you understand that we are trying so hard to balance this budget and give you a raise.”
The district’s projected revenue, or incoming funds, for the 2017 fiscal year is at an increase of more than $1.6 million from last year’s school district budget. The district is set to receive more in the coming year from the state for bus driver salaries, fringe benefits and some increases in teacher salary supplements. However, local funding is down.
According to the budget, the district will spend about $413,000 more in school bus salaries and fringe benefits than last year. The district will also spend about $225,000 more in districtwide fringe benefits; $114,209 more in district-level administrative salaries; about $92,000 less in school level administration salaries; and about $27,000 more in janitorial salaries.
There were very few slated increases in the district’s utilities, such as the cost of telephones, alarm systems and garbage pickup.
The total salary cost for the Colleton County School District is budgeted at approximately $26.268 million. This is about $1.157 million more than in the 2016-2016 school district budget
In other school board news:
Public school students’ first day back to school will be Monday, August 15.
A back-to-school celebration is planned for Friday, August 15th.
The school board accepted the Certified Staff Recommendations from four teachers: one at Hendersonville Elementary, one from Forest Hills Elementary School, one from Colleton Middle School and one from Colleton County High School. There are also 13 recommendations for professional staff employment, and the transfer of three teachers within the school district..

Heather Walters (899 Posts)