Horry school board hears first talk of 2013-14 budget

Budget talk for Horry County schools began Monday night as school board members heard the assumptions and parameters around which the 2013-14 budget will be built.

Among those assumptions were the expectation that basic operational costs will increase, including but not limited to insurance and utilities, and that an employee step increase based on years of experience will be given, along with any mandated cost-of-living adjustments. The reading intervention program, which began in 2011-12, is to be continued, and the personnel allocations are to remain the same as this year.

The district also expects to see an increase in student population, although it is too early to give an exact number, said John Gardner, executive director of accounting services. He said the district had an increase of around 600 new students last year, and next year he expects between 500 and 700 new students.

The budget will begin to evolve after the first of the year and over the spring. Gardner said told board members to expect the budget planning to change along the way with the moves of the Legislature, as it has in the last few years – a source of some frustration for board members. Employment recommendations are scheduled to be approved March 25, with preliminary budget approval set for May 13 and the public hearing/final approval June 10.

The board also awarded a construction contract to Chancel Builders Inc. the addition and renovation of Loris Elementary School. The company’s bid was the lowest at $7,672,774, and the total project budget will be about $12 million.

The school will receive an addition of about 32,000 square feet of classrooms, computer labs and resource and multi-purpose rooms, and about 3,000 square feet for core facilities such as the media center, kitchen and mini-gym. The playground and equipment will be refurbished and relocated, the existing facility will be painted and receive new flooring and furniture, and another drop-off loop will be added with a covered walkway and added parking.

The project is expected to be completed by late July 2013.

Board Chairman Will Garland and board members Paul Peterson, District 5, and Trent Hardee, District 11, also were recognized as they made their final appearances with the board. Vice Chairman Joe DeFeo will take over as chairman in January, Janice Morreale will represent District 5, and Jeffrey Garland will represent District 11.