District Budget Up, Millage Rate Flat

WINNSBORO (April 22, 2016) – The Fairfield County School Board gave approval to first reading of the proposed fiscal year 2016-2017 District budget during its regular board meeting April 5. Kevin Robinson, Director of Finance for the District, presented the Board with a proposed budget of $38,470,384.

The projected budget does not represent a millage increase, according to Robinson, although it is approximately $600,000 more than the current budget.

On the revenue side, there is a projected increase in the local tax revenue base as well as increases in state reimbursement for bus driver salaries and projected transfers for teacher salaries and benefits.

On the expenditure side, Robinson said the District plans to spend about $670,000 more next year than the current year. This is because of a proposed 2 percent state-mandated increase in the teacher salary scale, which will cost $510,530, plus increases in benefits, retirement costs and normal salary step increases. The District also plans to hire six new instructional positions.

Robinson also budgeted for an increase in purchased services of $491,425. Purchased services are those items and services the District buys from outside vendors, ranging from energy costs to books, and also include substitute teachers that were previously accounted for under salaries and benefits. This projected increase is balanced by an anticipated reduction of about $100,000 in the legal services line, which has long been targeted by Board members Annie McDaniel (District 4) and Paula Hartman (District 2) as being artificially inflated to fund school trips and other miscellaneous expenses.

Robinson also estimated a reduction of more than $300,000 in transfers from the general fund for food services, which he said is now projected to be self-sustaining. It was explained during the District’s audit last fall that this positive food service balance is primarily because of the District qualifying for and receiving $400,000 in enhanced U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding for school lunches.

Hartman wanted to know how District salaries for teachers compared to those in the surrounding areas. Dr. J.R. Green, Superintendent, responded that the most recent salary study presented to the Board showed that the District is very competitive, especially for teachers who have been in the District for two or three years.

Board member Henry Miller (District 3) wanted to know about the money the District transfers to Chester County for students living in the Mitford area. This payment is projected to be somewhat reduced because of fewer Fairfield County students attending those schools. Miller wanted to know why that was included in the District’s budget, making it seem higher than it was, when the students were not counted in the District.

Board chairwoman Beth Reid (District 7) interjected that the District was not receiving state or federal funds for those students but was also not incurring any costs on their behalf. However, “the court ruling was that our local dollars follow those children to the (Chester) schools,” she said. Green pointed out that the number of students attending the Chester schools has been steadily dropping; in 2011-2012 there were about 190 students. In FY 2016-2017, the District plans to send Chester County $511,000 for about 127 students.

The Board has scheduled a budget workshop on April 26, when it will go over the figures in more detail. The first reading of the budget passed 6-0-1.

Also during the meeting, the Board heard from Dr. Claudia Edwards, Deputy Superintendent of Academics, on the proposed 2016-2017 Academic Calendar. The first day of the 2016-2017 school year will be August 15; spring break will be April 10 – 14, 2017, and mid-year exams will take place before winter break.

 

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