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Education: School district budget includes raises for staff

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

A $510,000 deficit in the Georgetown County School District budget disappeared in the last two weeks, allowing the school board to pass a $76.7 million package that includes raises for staff and no tax increase for property owners.

But schools will do without nine technology coaches for elementary schools and Waccamaw Intermediate. Principals asked for the positions to improve the way teachers use technology. The cost was $315,000.

In addition to the cost, district staff said they weren’t sure the nine positions could be filled before the start of the next school year. “The job description hasn’t been written yet,” said Lisa Johnson, the district finance director.

With 1,300 employees, salaries and benefits make up 89 percent of the district budget, Johnson said. The district gave staff a raise three months into the last fiscal year. Paying that increase for a full year and adding another 2 percent this year cost $1.9 million.

The district teaching staff is down by three positions to 555. The reductions were made through attrition, Johnson said. Some staff will move to new positions as the district adjusts to a drop in enrollment of 113 students to 9,256.

The Coastal Montessori Charter School, due to open in August, will cost the district $540,000 as state funds follow the students. That’s based on 138 students.

“The charter school is another question: How many students actually show up?” Superintendent Randy Dozier said.

State funds account for 23 percent of the district’s revenue, and the legislature has not yet passed its budget. One area that may change is pension payments. The district may yet have to draw on its $9.5 million reserve, Dozier said.

If that’s the case, the school board may have to meet in July. The board usually takes a break until August.

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