The Hartsville/Trousdale County School Board approved its proposed budget for the 2017-18 year during last Thursday’s meeting.
RELATED LINK: Proposed school budget for 2017-18
The budget proposal, which totals just over $11.7 million, includes a request of $50,000 in new money, which would be designated for raises for non-certified employees such as janitors and other support staff. If approved, it would give those employees a $575 annual raise.
Most of the proposed increase would come from growth money, or the increase in the amount 1 cent of property tax brings to the county. That growth would cover an estimated $30,175 of new funds, with the county asked to kick in the remaining $19,825.
In the 2015-16 budget, the school system funded a $50,000 increase as a one-time bonus from its own funds, with the understanding that the county would pick that up in the future. The County Commission did so for 2016-17, while adding an additional $50,000 for non-certified staff.
“Last year when we went to the County Commission, our context was all focused on increases for teacher salaries,” said Director of Schools Clint Satterfield. “Now we want to get to the commitment level that we had made for non-certified.
“In speaking with the mayor, the only revenue increase is $50,000, but only $20,000 from additional county funds. We’re willing to take the $30,000 from growth money and put toward that.”
The budget also provides for a new ESL (English as Second Language) teaching position, a part-time guidance counselor, a Mechatronics teacher for a new program beginning this fall and increases to the district’s Strategic Compensation Program.
“We’re getting more Spanish-speaking students every year, and there’s a need for (ESL),” Satterfield said.
Under the SCP, teachers can earn bonuses based on reaching benchmarks during the school year. The added SCP funds would put K-2 teachers on the same potential level as middle and high school teachers, increase the bonuses for hard-to-staff positions and further reward teacher leaders.
The budget also provides for the continuation of free breakfast and lunch at the elementary school, which Satterfield said has gone very well over the last two years.
The school budget also incorporates an estimated increase of $660,000 in Basic Education Program (BEP) funds from the state.
“The governor’s new education budget created millions for BEP,” Satterfield said. “It’s an estimate, but we stand to gain from it.”
While state funding for the school system is increasing, Satterfield also noted rising costs in areas such as insurance, which according to the budget goes from $285,000 to over $450,000 next year.
The school system also plans to dip into its own fund balance to the tune of $511,478 for one-time costs, such as new curriculums in K-5 Reading, K-8 Math and 6-12 English Language Arts, Chromebooks for every students in grades 6-12, technology upgrades and other expenses.
The budget must be approved by the County Commission, which will likely take up the matter during countywide budget hearings, which are scheduled for May 30-June 1. The school budget is expected to come up on May 31.
Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or email@example.com.