R2 board OKs $1,000 bonuses for teachers

Revenue Source is $16.9M Budget Surplus

COLUMBIA – Richland Two school board approved $1,000 bonuses for its 3,600 district employees during a special called meeting Tuesday night.

The district allocated $4.1 million of a $16.9 million budget surplus for teachers and all full-time permanent employees. Superintendent Dr. Baron Davis said the allocation is an effort to be competitive with surrounding school districts that have recently approved similar bonuses.

Teachers’ salaries in Richland Two, on average, are $52,149, higher than the $50,182 average of teachers statewide.

Besides the bonuses, other allocations from the surplus approved by the board include $750,000 for classroom supplies ($25 per student), $750,000 for media center upgrades ($25 per student) and $3.5 million for building renovations to help lessen the impact on taxpayers for the funding of annual capital improvement expenditures, according to an email released by the district following the meeting.

The remaining $7.8 million of the surplus will be rolled over into the FY 2019-20 budget rather than into the fund balance as the district has done in the past.

The source of the surplus was a combination of $9.3 million in lower expenditures than budgeted (primarily in salaries and fringe benefits) and $7.6 million in higher than anticipated revenues ($3.6 million in local taxes and $4.1 million in state revenues), according to district officials.

Last year, the state legislature spent $160 million for a four percent raise for teachers.

 School officials say the $1,000 bonuses could be paid out as early as next month.