School Board Approves Budget, Tax Note

FAIRFIELD – The Fairfield County School Board gave the final OK to their 2013-2014 budget Tuesday night. Weighing in at $34, 358, 564 and with a static millage rate of 203.1 mills, the budget passed on a 5-0 vote, with Board member Annie McDaniel (District 4) abstaining.

In order to keep the District afloat until tax time, the Board gave unanimous consent to a Tax Anticipation Note (TAN) for up to $6.15 million. The District will tap into the S.C. Association of Government Organizations (SCAGO) program for the bond, a program that pools other districts in the state in order to obtain a lower interest rate. The bond will be paid back once property taxes begin coming in in January. Last year the District floated a TAN of $5.5 million.

The Board also unanimously approved the recommendation of J.R. Green, Superintendent, to increase the salary of the District’s School Resource Officers (SROs) from the $28,000-$29,000 range to $32,130, provided the officers become SRO and D.A.R.E. certified.

Green’s request to transfer $18,000 in state special revenue funds into the general fund also sailed through without objection Tuesday night. The funds, according to Kevin Robinson, Finance Director, had not been utilized for their state-designated programs and had to be either transferred to the general fund or returned to the state by June 30. A similar transfer – $33,743 in Barnwell Funds, allocated for instructional facilities projects – narrowly passed on a 3-1 vote. McDaniel voted against the transfer because, she said, there was no built-in oversight to ensure the money would be used for instructional purposes. Board members Andrea Harrison (District 1) and Paula Hartman (District 2) abstained.

The Board also passed first reading of an amendment to the District’s policy on acceptable use of technology. The amended policy represents a shift in the District’s attitude toward students bringing their own portable electronic devices (iPads, iPods, etc.) to school, encouraging instead of discouraging students to do so in order to utilize those devices in the education process. The District will have to upgrade its wireless capabilities in order to meet the growing demand of these devices, Green said, which will cost approximately $100,000. The first reading passed 5-0, with McDaniel abstaining.

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