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Education: Midyear pay raise likely for teachers

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

The Georgetown County School Board will get a recommendation this month to raise employee pay by 2 percent.

The board adopted a $69.5 million budget in June, the same day that Gov. Nikki Haley vetoed the K-12 funding plan in the state budget. Legislators overrode the veto the next day. Uncertain of state funding, the school board adopted a waiver from the state to avoid increasing teacher salaries.

Six weeks later, the budget picture is clearer, if not exactly rosy.

“We’re still a little short,” Superintendent Randy Dozier said.

But he said he will recommend a raise for the district’s 1,400 employees when the board meets Aug. 16.

“Horry County did something, so that puts the pressure on us,” he said.

It will cost about $1.4 million to raise pay 2 percent across the district. The state budget gave the district nearly $1 million more than it anticipated.

After going two years without a raise, and enduring furloughs in one of those years, Dozier said employees deserve an increase.

Board members agree, and say a raise is important if the district wants to keep teachers.

“He convinced me,” said Board Member Teresa Bennani, who had argued any additional funds should be used to expand preschool programs.

Dozier had considered using district reserves to fund a portion of the salary increase, but he said this week he will propose a midyear pay raise that uses only the additional state revenue.

The district wants to refinance bonds and maintaining the $8.2 million reserve will help get a lower interest rate. “I’d actually like to build on that,” he said.

And since this year’s raise will set the baseline for salaries in next year’s budget, Dozier said he also wants to look at enrollment, which determines the district’s share of state revenue. The district had 9,300 students last year, a drop of 100 from the year before. It was the fourth straight decline in enrollment.

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