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Schools: Teacher raises wait until fall as district awaits funding

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Perhaps August.

Maybe November.

Uncertain of state revenue, the Georgetown County School Board adopted a $69.5 million operating budget that includes no raise for teachers and other district staff. In fact, the board voted to implement a waiver offered by the legislature to avoid a pay increase for its 1,400 employees.

“This is quite disappointing,” Superintendent Randy Dozier said. “I hoped we would avoid this.”

The board adopted the budget Tuesday, hours after Gov. Nikki Haley vetoed funding for K-12 education in the state budget. That budget raises per pupil spending and represents about $500,000 for the Georgetown County district.

A 2 percent pay raise for district employees would cost $900,000 to $1 million. So the district will consider a midyear pay raise and seek a legal opinion about paying a bonus, said Lisa Johnson, the district finance director.

That could come before the board in August. “More like September,” Johnson said.

Dozier said he favors a midyear increase since it’s unclear if state law would allow a one-time bonus. “I’m confident we can do it,” he said.

Salaries account for 88 percent of the operating budget.

The district has shifted funds and cut some programs to balance this year’s budget. It will also draw $150,000 from its reserve to fund middle school sports and a summer arts program for gifted and talented students.

The budget drew no pubic comment and none from board members, who started looking at cuts in March.

But Board Member Arthur Lance led the prayer that starts every meeting, and asked people to pray the legislature overrides Haley’s budget veto.

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