Charleston County School District passes 2014 budget without tax raise

  • Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Charleston County School District approved a fiscal year 2014 budget worth $383,161,659 last week. It managed to increase financial support for large East Cooper schools and provide a lump sum to rural schools, while not raising taxes.

Park West campus schools – Laurel Hill Primary, Charles Pinckney Elementary and Cario Middle – will receive $715,000. The county’s large high schools – Wando and West Ashley – will benefit from an increase in funding from $1 million to $1.3 million.

Rural schools will receive $200,000. Those schools are in District 1 – in the McClellanville area – and District 23 – Hollywood, Ravenel and Edisto areas.

The costs will be offset by reductions in spending in central office expenditures by $2 million, school staff and supply allocations by $750,000 and school pool funding by $300,000.

Charleston County School Superintendent Nancy McGinley said not raising taxes was important. “It clearly is always a top priority,” she said. “The district strives to provide the maximum amount of resources with the least impact to our taxpayers in every budget, not just this year.”

Taxes haven’t been raised in four years, she said.

McGinley added that the budget process started in October. “The budget is a constantly changing project,” she said. “As the state refines their revenue numbers and potential legislative action, the district also refines our projections for the impact of their actions to us.

“There are a lot of complications. From my point of view, the budget really begins with what are the academic priorities, and how can we can line up our resources (in support).”

McGinley called the process “very labor intensive.” School districts receive numerous requests for additional resources and upgrades every year from their respective schools. They are prioritized by the requesting party, usually signed by the school principal, before sending to the district.

With an unstable economy and detrimental impacts from sequestration, the district had an especially difficult task of choosing which requests to accommodate. “At the end of the day, we need to make hard decisions on what requests to honor,” McGinley said.

Elementary school technology teachers are set to receive partial funding. McGinley said that comes in the form of each elementary receiving $20,000 for associate teacher positions in technology labs.

Employees also received a 1.4 percent cost of living adjustment, although McGinley called it “not extravagant.” She said it matches the Consumer Price Index. Teachers will receive a salary adjustment for another year of experience. “We accomplished a lot,” McGinley said.

Common Core state standards was emphasized throughout the meeting, as the district aims to meet South Carolina guidelines. Common Core refers to grade and subject level standards designed to ensure college and career readiness for all students in all regions.

The school board first received a recommendation by CCSD to have four days of professional development, but that number was increased to seven for content area teachers. Non-contact are teachers will receive their Common Core professional development throughout the 2013-14 school year during scheduled work days, according to a news release.

The move saved CCSD $1.7 million. ““As we prepare to transition to the Common Core, which provides a clear and focused progression of learning from kindergarten to graduation, CCSD is committed to ensuring that educators are equipped with the skills, knowledge and applications needed to produce successful students,” said chief adminstrative officer Lisa Herring in the release.

“We are certain that through the professional development that we have planned, we will be able to develop our teachers in a very deliberate and focused manner, such that they are ready to prepare our students for college and career.”

Because of the alteration of development days, the school year calendar, which is available on the CCSD website, has been updated to accommodate for the changes. The first date for content area teachers to report to work is Aug. 9.

New head at Trident Academy

Kathy Cook joined Trident Academy on Monday as the new head of school, according to the Mount Pleasant school’s e-newsletter.

Cook’s plans include providing “instructional leadership in following the common core curriculum standards, build leaders among both faculty and students and to ensure all students are given the tools to transition from Trident Academy.”

In the report, Cook identified an ideal student will not be at Trident Academy long-term, instead he or she should be transitioned successfully to a traditional school. She earned a master’s degree from The Citadel.

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