The Horry County school board passed the comprehensive 2017-18 budget Monday night.
The budget, funded 50 percent by local revenue, is $685 million. It’s about $121 million less than last year’s because of a smaller capital improvements budget used for construction projects.
The operations portion of the budget is used to fund salaries, benefits and supplies. It has grown by $18 million, up to $496 million.
Here’s what’s in it:
The new budget has a roughly $13.3 million deficit of expenses over revenue.
However, the district sets aside money every year that’s not budgeted for any expense, called unassigned fund balance. The district plans to use some of that money to overcome the deficit.
But according to Chief Financial Officer John Gardner, the district sees around $11 million in savings from other budgeted expenses that don’t actually get spent, so the district could dip into fund balance by only $2.3 million.
The district is mandated to give teachers a step increase, which is an incremental pay raise every year for 27 years, at which point the pay increases are no longer mandatory.
But that doesn’t mean the board can’t offer raises to other workers.
Step increases for other eligible employees (not teachers) and salary increases for employees who have worked longer than 27 years can be offered at the board’s discretion.
In the 2017-18 budget, employees not eligible for a step increase would get a 2 percent raise and non-teacher employees would also get a step increase.
The budgeted 2 percent salary increase for all regular employees is $5.16 million.
Critical needs teacher signing bonus
During its preliminary vote on May 22, the board approved the $375,000 in incentives for critical needs teachers.
The money was originally budgeted for signing bonuses, but the board had voted in May to amend the budget item to focus on recruitment and retention with the intent to reward longevity instead of a one-time signing bonus, so although the money is in the final budget, the way the funds will be used has not been finalized.
Eight ESOL teachers
There are 60 teachers who hold special English classes for students who are English speakers of other languages, according to the district’s instructional support services office.
There are more than 3,900 ESOL students out of almost 43,000 total students, according to records obtained from the school district, with most of them in them in the Myrtle Beach, Socastee and Carolina Forest attendance areas.
The 2017-18 budget includes $617,000 in funding for eight additional ESOL teachers.
Horry County school resource officers
Last year, Horry County Schools was paying $479,454 for 16 Horry County school resource officers and one SRO supervisor, which was the equivalent to half the officers’ salaries, according to a contractual agreement.
According to Gardner, the district has a little over $800,000 in the 2017-18 budget for all SROs in Horry County Schools including additional officers at three new schools, but board members did not approve any additional money because district officials are still in negotiations with Horry County over the cost of additional officers.
Other spending increases approved by the board include $79,720 for assistant athletic directors at each high school and $22,854 in additional funding for junior varsity lacrosse.
It also includes funding for four days of curricular work and staff development and funding for additional building services staff, maintenance staff and supplies, equipment and school furniture, and almost $5 million to open and staff the district’s three new schools and provide staffing for an estimated 741 new students.